Digital Encounters – highlighting First Nations voices on contested histories

Lightning Talk

Thursday, April 02, 2020: 11:00am - 12:30pm -

peter tattersall, Australian National Maritime Museum, Australia

A lightening examination of the challenges and opportunities faced by Federal Cultural Institutions in highlighting First Nation perspectives of contested histories. In 2020 Australia will be marking the 250th Anniversary of British navigator and explorer James Cook’s arrival on the continent’s east coast – a event that fundamentally changed Australian First Nations’ way of life.

This talk will focus on the development of two digital projects undertaken by the museum for this anniversary.

‘Cooked’ – a contemporary, animated, satirical series reflecting on Cook’s 18th century voyage and the Australian Government’s decision to sail the HMB Endeavour (replica) around Australia to mark the anniversary. In the series the ghost of James Cook returns to contemporary Australia to face the curse of ‘Wyatt Guildt’ that won’t allow his soul to rest. The indigenous director Jake Duczynski says ‘The series will deliver a host of hard truths, but Trojan horse them in with a sugary coat of comedy. I don’t want to antagonize, but to feed the reality of the situation…’

‘Cooks Voyages – Views from the Shore’ – an online game designed for primary school age students that puts them in control of an 18th century voyage into the Pacific ocean. Players are presented with the same physical, ethical and navigational challenges that Cook faced across his three voyages. The games main currency is ‘reputation’ and players actions are judged on contemporary ethics, allowing an investigation of the evolution of contemporary standards of behavior and the impacts of key decisions.

The presentation will focus on the challenges and opportunities of that face Federal cultural institutions in working with First Nations communities and artists to revisit contested histories for contemporary audiences. It will also draw out some ‘lessons learned’ for other institutions considering similar approaches to digital engagement to highlight First Nation perspectives.