Sydney 2018


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Reading Mother Country

Circling, spiralling and crossing forms
express feelings of connection
and scientific observations.

This film is my belated response to the question, "What is my relationship to Aboriginal Australia?", that was posed by Megan Williams,Senior Lecturer and Head of the Indigenous Health Discipline at the Graduate School of Health at UTS, at the Lens on HealthRoundable we facilitated for the 2018 Sydney Science Festival as part of National Science Week. The film begins with a childhood memory and expands to reflect many interactions with people and with places, where past, present and future stories may be read in the languages of the arts and the sciences - and felt within these languages, through the universal primal forms in nature - circling, spiralling and crossing. These forms are recognised around the world as subjective expressions of spirit connection, and as collective expressions of scientific observation.

My ancestor Hannah Brown was Indigenous Australian, and another ancestor was the celebrated Australian artist Tom Roberts. As a child I imagined pictures on the pages of my school Readers moving, like the picture of Tom's painting, 'Shearing the Rams'. Through September 2018 I trace the footsteps of Hannah Brown in Western Victoria and tell a story to the rhythm of a lunar cycle. I climb Pyramid Hill where Major Mitchell proclaimed the lie, "...a land so inviting and still without inhabitants." The country that surrounds Pyramid Hill is now the farmland he envisaged for colonisation. The solar system refers to the Milankovitch cycles that govern natural patterns of climate change and evolution, patterns known and respected by Indigenous Elders and now disrupted by our massive burning of fossil fuels. Antarctic animations relate Australia to the whole global system that we are part of shaping. Indigenous and Antarctic views relate Australia to the whole natural world from which we are born.


CREDITS in order of appearance

Ocean gesture: Vikki Quill (tracing ancient Chinese calligraphic form)
Motion-captured by Jason Benedek (UTS)
Quote reference: Josephine Flood (2004. p.15)
Excerpt from music, 'Song to my Ancestors': Alison O'Carroll
Photo: Roberts family collection
Map: Anthony Higgins
Data projections with frogs: Lisa Roberts with Anne Russell
Phytoplankton animation: Lisa Roberts with Sue Fenech (UTS)
Growing and Sharing Knowledge animation: Lisa Roberts
with Shawn Wilson (Univerity of Sydney)
Music, Pedestrian Journey: Jason Benedek (UTS)
Polar Time animation art & data guidance: Dana Bergstrom (AAD)
Natural Cycles animation: Brad Freese
Krill animation: Lisa Roberts with So Kawaguchi, Robbie Kilpatrick, Rob King, and Steve Nicol (AAD)
Animal motion reference: James Gray, 1953
Seagrass swimmers:
Bliss Boaden
Isobel Cummings
Shona Wilson
Gumbaygnirr Story/Art/Video:
Chels Marshall. Australian National University (ANU)
Special effects: Lisa Roberts with Jason Benedek (UTS)
Gumbaygnirr Voice:
Michael Jarrett
Possum skin drumming:
Laura McBride
Underwater video/sound:
William Gladstone (UTS)
Antarctic sea ice 'breath' data: AAD
Infinity sign trace source: Singapore zoo Great Ape. John Matthews. (2008)
Antarctic Elephant seal sound recording: Lisa Roberts (2003)
Southern Ocean Currents trace source: AAD
Alveoli opening animation: Lisa Roberts with Nicholas Kiraly
Underwater sunlight video: William Gladstone (UTS)
Yamarr Waaruubiin - Gumbaygnirr fish designs: Chels Marshall (ANU)
Errand into the Maze gesture:
Barbara Cuckson (Rozelle School of Visual Arts)
Motion-captured by Jason Benedek (UTS)
Seagrass video: William Gladstone (UTS)
Gumbaygnirr country video: Chels Marshall (ANU)
Gumbaygnirr Swimmer: Lacey Froglet Butterfly Edwards
Antarctic krill sex data:
So Kawaguchi
Steve Nichol
Andrew Constable
Rob King
Graham Ewing