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Yolŋu artwork brought to digital life in immersive First Nations showcase

[supplied by CDU]

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Charles Darwin University and Goŋ Wanhurr Indigenous Corporation have collaborated to launch an augmented reality exhibit highlighting Yolŋu culture. Image: Kevin Lucas.

Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Goŋ Wanhurr Indigenous Corporation (GWIC) have collaborated to launch InDigiMatha, the ‘Indigenous digital tongue’ at the CDU Waterfront Campus, with a tantalising selection of Goŋ Wanhurr’s augmented and virtual reality works.

Co-hosted with CDU First Nations Leadership, the showcased works include digitised paintings of freshwater and saltwater Country by Yolŋu Elders and artists working together through InDigiMatha’s Homeland Studio model.

InDigiMatha promotes a Homeland studio model for remote communities to curate and produce immersive cultural content connecting Homelands to the Exhibition and Events sector.

CDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor First Nations Leadership Professor Reuben Bolt said the innovation of extended reality technology paired with significant cultural artwork embodies new ways of storytelling.

“Storytelling is a key component of First Nations communities in Australia, and there are many creative ways to express invaluable intergenerational knowledge,” Professor Bolt said.

“This strong foundation of storytelling can now be shared in a new format, intersecting two cultures and two ways of knowledge while supporting First Nations cultural heritage outcomes and communities.”

GWIC Chairperson Tommy Riyakurray Munyarryun, Deputy Chairperson Djambawa Marawili and manager Kevin Lucas have recently returned from an invited InDigiMatha presentation at the renowned Purrumpa festival in Adelaide.

“At the heart of the InDigiMatha vision is a Homeland Studio model for collaborative artmaking, that promotes Homeland empowerment and community transformation - that is the Elder’s vision,” Mr Munyarryun said.

“We are working together alongside partners committed to supporting and helping us build the community infrastructure needed to keep going for the next generation and the ones after them.”

The digital showcase presented represents a decade of collaborative cultural activities on Yolŋu Homelands and offers glimpses of future educational and immersive curatorial engagements with galleries, libraries, archives and museums across Australia and the world.

“Our unique approach has developed over the past seven years, and it starts with workshops on country in remote Homelands where we work with Elders to define the cultural stories the community is interested in exploring and then develop it into immersive storytelling,” Mr Lucas said.

 “Developing opportunities for First Nations VET training and tertiary education pathways designed around our specialist approach to Arts and Heritage, is an important part of Goŋ Wanhurr’s vision. And it is an aspiration we share with CDU.”

The event will be held at the newly renovated First Nations Innovation Hub at the CDU Waterfront campus, a $300,000 investment from CDU, which was established to support First Nations businesses operating within the Territory to connect them with potential partners and investors.

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