The Narrative Atlas Prototype


Thursday, April 02, 2020: 9:00am - 8:00pm -

Ané van der Walt, Monash University, Australia, Vince Dziekan, Monash University, Australia

The Narrative Atlas prototype is a large-scale archival “Artist’s Book” with interactive and digital overlays that evocatively and ethically communicates the cultural heritage aspects of a significant Aboriginal channel site located in western Victoria, Australia. This site consists of a network of natural and man-made channels that extend across approximately 11 acres of land. Linked to subsistence, ceremony, ritual, trade and more, these channel sites are considered by Indigenous peoples and archaeologists to be one of the greatest feats of Indigenous engineering in Australia, as well as an important example of sustainable aquaculture and farming. The Atlas operates at varying scales (from 1:200 to 1:1), thereby revealing both the immense size and complexity of the channel system as well as the devastating impact that more recent colonial settlement has had upon its immediate environs. Inspired by Indigenous possum skin cloaks, the prototype will be exhibited on the floor of the venue space in order to replicate the notion of walking through a landscape and the experience of one’s sense of place unfolding through performative bodily engagement and progressive discovery. Curatorially, this idea of “unfolding” strategically informs the exhibition strategy as the physical configuration of the artefact will be altered on a daily basis over the course of the conference. With each transformation digital content will be introduced to augment the physical artefact, thereby encouraging the audience’s understanding of the Atlas to evolve just as the stories embedded in the original site unfold from one of mystery upon first encounter through stages of subsequent revelation.