Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Blackout Collective 15 years strong * 2002 - 2017 
Blackout Collective based out of Australia is 15 years strong in 2017. 15 Years of collaborating, innovating, artmaking, touring and advocating.  Raise your vessel in a cheers :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

official launch and pre-selection for the 2014 imagineNATIVE Festival

online art project Superhighway across the Sky has been pre-selection for the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto this year.

The project will also be a part of a special event programmed by the imagineNATIVE Festival, the NEW MEDIA MULTI-PLATFORM SHOWCASE.

Friday, October 24 8:00 PM
Art Exhibits AT 401 Richmond St West, Toronto.

Urban Space Gallery, Main floor outside Warc Gallery.

Works by the Blackout Collective, Lily Ginnish-Lavalley, Sean Muir, Jude Norris, Cheyenne Scott, Theresa Stevenson, Skins 4.0 Collective.

Superhighway Across the Sky ARTISTS TALK: 8:00PM

It will be a part of imagineNATIVE’s annual Art Crawl of exhibitions and co-presentations, taking place Friday, October 24, 5:00 – 8:30pm within the 401 Richmond building, includes gallery partners A Space Gallery, Trinity Square Video, Gallery 44, WARC Gallery and the UrbanSpace Gallery. The Art Crawl is a free event featuring contemporary Indigenous new media art, commissions, retrospectives and talks by leading curators and artists.

http://nationtalk.ca/story/imaginenative-film-media-arts-festival-presenting-sponsor-bell-media-announces-exhibitions-and-art-crawl

This will be the official launch of the project which is presented by Blackout Collective artists Jenny Fraser (Yugambeh) as curator, Michelle Blakeney (Yaegl /Wiradjuri), Jason Davidson (Gurindji/Mara/Nalakarn) and Christine Peacock (Erub).  Feature writers are Peter Morin, Mary Graham, Ross Watson and Djon Mundine.


A communication from Indigenous Australia to Indigenous Canada, Superhighway across the Sky puts Indigenous Australian media artists back into the picture (literally) through work in a culturally safe environment, towards stronger cultural maintenance and representation. This creative, barrier-free portal to a collection of video, written and interactive projects (created and commissioned through online residencies) offers intriguing and eclectic alternative media creative perspectives. Where media arts are both an outcome and a facilitator of major cultural and social shifts, not merely an additional creative tool, this interactive project builds a creative playing field and unique exhibition presence that circumvents Australia’s traditional, institutional and exclusionary new media arts exhibitions with Indigenous strength, tenacity and freedom.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

National Indigenous Art Award suppresses innovation in Australia

Darwins Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory has removed the New Media Art Category from the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award this year leaving artists in the lurch.

“In true Australian style, there was no announcement or discussion, the option for the New Media category just wasn't on the entry form this year, which was devastating because we had spent tens of thousands of dollars and years creating a new project, with intention for the Australian premiere at the official NATSIA Award Ceremony” said Jenny Fraser, a spokesperson for the Blackout Collective.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award has cancelled the New Media Category after only a short run, having been first established in 2010. According to the awards 2011 website, “the Telstra New Media Award was introduced in recognition of this emerging field in Indigenous art practice. This category has become a permanent fixture following last year’s inaugural success at Telstra NATSIAA and will attract $4000 along with other categories.”

“Some of us had already been entering New Media artworks long before the inception of the new media category in 2010, so alarm bells had been going off since then because none of the Blackout artists had ever been preselected for the new category. Its a very strange attitude toward the field, and the message that it sends is that the Museum has very little expertise in the areas of innovation and also fails to engage curators, preselectors and judges who do” said Jenny Fraser.

In an article titled 'Mix of old and new adds dynamism to Indigenous art' about the 2013 NATSIA Award, Telstra Chief Financial Officer Andrew Penn wrote “The awards have grown and innovated, introducing new forms and mediums. The "new media" category was introduced in 2010 and is perhaps viewed by some just as Impressionism was in the 1870s but it is simply a reflection of the fact that we are living in a digital world. The fact that artists are using (as they always have) new tools as they become available, should be celebrated.”

The artists commissioned by cyberTribe to make new experimental work for Superhighway across the Sky were Christine Peacock, Jason Davidson and Michelle Blakeney, whom all travelled to Toronto to speak on a roundtable with other International guests at the annual festival. In accordance with the Telstra NATSIAA Award strict guidelines about previously exhibiting entries, the blackout collective was careful not to show the work publicly in Australia. Working around the guidelines, they strategically presented a special private preview of their new online art project ‘Superhighway across the sky’ at the 2013 imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Canada, which was well received. The plan was then to enter the project into the Telstra Award, which would be the Australian premiere and launch of the project which had been in the making for 9 years.

“The namesake of the Superhighway project is a song by the world famous Aboriginal band Yothu Yindi, so another great motivating factor to launch the project, particularly in the Northern Territory, as it is the homeland of the songman, Dr Yunupingu and his Visual artist sister, both of whom only just died in recent years. It would have been a fitting and touching tribute to their inspirational and innovating lives, but unfortunately the Museum staff could not even answer when asked which category we should be entering now that theyve canned the new media specific one” said Jenny Fraser.

In an article titled 'New media shines at Aboriginal Art event' is quoted as stating “Mr Arpin, who has been at the helm of the museum for three years, says the genre is gathering momentum. "I think it's demonstrating...that more artists are using new media to express themselves," he says. "Younger artists in particular and artists who may be academically trained or working in a university or in an art department ...will see that these platforms are available as a mode of self expression, and I think it's just a reflection of the fact that we're living in a more and more digitally mediated age."

All is not lost however, as Blackouts project Superhighway across the Sky has just been officially preselected for competition in the 2014 15th Anniversary of imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto, which is particularly timely as this year the spotlight is on Australia. The work will also be featured with cyberTribe, an online gallery focused on nurturing digital art. cyberTribe has been at the forefront of exhibiting cutting edge and politically important artworks from Indigenous Artists internationally, both in its online gallery and other gallery spaces across the world. Over the past decade cyberTribe has brought together Indigenous artists from places across Australia, the Pacific, the Americas and elsewhere to participate in exhibitions of international standing.

“The irony of the fact that this Indigenous Art Award is sponsored by a major telecommunications company and internet provider is not lost – it says a lot about how museums are keeping Indigenous culture in Australia trapped in the past, and their refusal to employ Indigenous curators of Aboriginal Art forever perpetuates that. It is always remarkably much easier and much more gratifying to organise engagement overseas, than it is in our culturally apartheid homeland, especially given the greater divide between the film and new media arts here, and the lack of major Indigenous arts institutions, staff and interest. Highlighted again upon returning home to find that the short lived New Media category has been canned from of the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, without any prior warning to the field of artists, nor consultation.” said Jenny Fraser.

The Blackout Collective is a group of creators from all over Australia who fluidly communicate and contribute towards screen- based culture locally, across Australia, and internationally. “Australia, in itself is a big brown land, so it is difficult for us to maintain face-to-face contact even in our own country. It is important professionally and spiritually for us to travel together, and engage with Native Canadian artists at the festival, as we struggle in a very niche artform area in our own country, and are usually excluded from mainstream new media exhibitions” said Jenny Fraser.

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is an international festival in Toronto that celebrates the latest works by Indigenous peoples on the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio, and new media. Each year, the festival presents a selection of the most compelling and distinctive Indigenous works from around the globe. The festival's screenings, panel discussions, and cultural events attract and connect filmmakers, media artists, programmers, buyers, and industry professionals. The works accepted reflect the diversity of the world's Indigenous nations and illustrate the vitality and excellence of our art and culture in contemporary media.

artists Jason Davidson, with Native Canadian Dancer, Jenny Fraser and Michelle Blakeney






related articles:

2013 Mix of old and new adds dynamism to Indigenous art

2013 New media shines at Aboriginal Art event

2011 : 28th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Superhighway across the Sky

Michelle Blakeney, Jason Davidson and Jenny Fraser
Screen Artist/Curator Jenny Fraser is about to realise a touring project to Canada that has been in the works for 9 years. Superhighway across the Sky is the title of an online Indigenous media arts project from Australia presented by the Blackout Collective who will tour with the work and present at the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Canada, 16 to 20 October.

The project features artists whose work focuses on the production of an inter-connected expression. The intention is to facilitate an in-depth discussion to be shaped largely by the online residency participants, but potentially covering notions such as: non-linear storytelling, authorship, audiences, accessibility, new media literacy and, the past and future potentials of online digital storytelling.

Three artists were commissioned by artist/curator Jenny Fraser (QLD) to undertake online residencies to research and develop new work and create a new web-presence. Working from their own home states and territory, the artists, Christine Peacock (QLD), Jason Davidson (NT) and Michelle Blakeney (NSW) have also engaged other creatives. The Aboriginal writers that have been commissioned for the project are Mary Graham (QLD), Ross Watson (QLD) and Peter Morin (Canada).

The Blackout Collective is a group of creators from all over Australia who fluidly communicate and contribute towards screen- based culture locally, across Australia, and internationally. “Australia, in itself is a big brown land, so it is difficult for us to maintain face-to-face contact even in our own country. It is important professionally and spiritually for us to travel together, and engage with Native Canadian artists at the festival, as we struggle in a very niche artform area in our own country, and are usually excluded from mainstream new media exhibitions” said Jenny Fraser.

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is an international festival in Toronto that celebrates the latest works by Indigenous peoples on the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio, and new media. Each year, the festival presents a selection of the most compelling and distinctive Indigenous works from around the globe. The festival's screenings, panel discussions, and cultural events attract and connect film makers, media artists, programmers, buyers, and industry professionals. The works accepted reflect the diversity of the world's Indigenous nations and illustrate the vitality and excellence of our art and culture in contemporary media.

Christine Peacocks 'LANDED' project has been selected for competition at the 14th annual imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival, and the blackout collective will also present as a group, participating in a panel on new media arts, along with attending other forums, screenings, meetings and industry gatherings. Landed has a focus on international conversation, using the wisdom of local elders in South East Queensland to engage Aboriginal peoples in a dialogue concerning concepts of sovereignty. “Three women, two Indigenous and one non-Indigenous shared our skills to create the Landed website. Our focus is not the production of excellence or innovation, we rather inspire continued use of tools available to us, and interaction through conversation, to honour our ancestors, each other, land and all her creatures” said Christine Peacock, from Wolvi in Queensland.

Michelle Blakeney presents a new video work 'A lot of lost survivors' which features an historic photographic collection for members of the Stolen Generation who were instituionalised at The Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home in New South Wales. “Aboriginal families are only now recovering members from forced separations; photography provides a link from the past to the present that is immediate and powerful” said Blakeney.

The focus for Jason Davidsons work is on chem trails, which are the chemical footprints that are left in the process of geo-engineering. Titled The Chemtrail Phenomenon, the project leaves the viewer with questions about the various chemtrails in the ACT and Northern Territory where he is based. Jason Davidson says of his artworkThe chemtrail phenomenon, is my documentation project, a contribution that is aimed at helping to educate the community about chemtrails and the importance of respecting our planet.

This is the first year that a group of Indigenous New Media artists have toured to the imagineNATIVE festival but fundraising for the project began in 2004 and over the years more inspiration and motivation came, when Native Canadian artist curator Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskew invited Jenny Fraser to contribute an online art project towards his curated project 'Storm Spirits'. “Storm Spirits focuses on Aboriginal artists whose work inhabits and maps out these intersecting spheres of influence and who contribute unique forms of vitality to the dynamic and essential interplay between Indigenous traditional knowledge and contemporary Aboriginal culture” said Ahasiw in his curatorial essay, 2005. Ahasiw passed away before the project was launched, but Frasers project 'unsettled' went onto receive an honourable mention in the New Media category at the imagineNATIVE film and media arts festival in 2007.

The project title is the namesake of song lyrics by Yothu Yindi from the 1996 hit single Superhighway. The recent passing of Yothu Yindi front man Dr Yunupingu, and project writer Ross Watson, will be honoured when Superhighway across the Sky is launched in Australia in 2014.

After the festival, Christine Peacock and Jenny Fraser will travel on to the UK and present at the Indigeneity.net conference in London. Titled 'In the Balance: Indigeneity, Performance, Globalization', the conference takes place from 24–27 October 2013. Held at Trafalgar Square, the conference is in conjunction with two international events: the Origins Festival of First Nations and a performance based exhibition, Ecocentrix: Indigenous Arts, Sustainable Acts and an extensive film programme is also included.

Links:

imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival http://imaginenative.org

blackout collective website: http://blackoutcollective.blogspot.com.au


unsettled can be found at this link: http://cybertribe.culture2.org/unsettled

indigeneity.net conference http://www.indigeneity.net

contact: 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Vernacular Terrain II - a catalogue essay by Djon Mundine


Vernacular Terrain II

One Night the moon
Came a’rollin by
Drove a big cart
across the night sky
One night the moon
Came a’rollin by
Called all the dreamers
To come for a ride.


One Night the Moon, Rachel Perkins Director, 2001.


Christine Peacock and John Graham’s animation ‘Boy and Moth’ tells a type of classic morale tale of where knowledge; enlightenment and special powers of perception are placed on an unwitting unsuspecting innocent hero for them to wonder at, enjoy, and rationalise and come to terms with. Aboriginal art is art made by Aboriginal people whatever its form, scale, practice, or material. Certain inherent features of a technology can shut particular people out from access to it; from knowledge or a system of power associated with it.
Our world is aptly described within the title Vernacular Terrain; a moulded landscape of pathways, sites of aggregation, collection, and settlement. A variegated terrain of the personal and social, more so than spatial. Where information, ideas, expressions, feelings and concepts are ambiguously connected to sites and people and yet exchanged or discarded; overpowered and subsumed or escaping to fly free; in a constant state of flux, a temporal and spatial state of being.
Our landscape is strewn with sites of specific actions, people and their stories both creative and destructive. Aboriginal people have always sat uncomfortably in Australian colonial history and Aboriginal art sits somewhat incongruously in ‘white-Australian’ western art history, our very contemporary existence a challenge to both.


This land is mine
All the way to the old fence line
Every break of day
I'm working hard just to make it pay
They won't take it away from me Father 

[Written by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody],
One Night the Moon, 2001.


Some would tell us that new technology is supposedly race, gender and politically neutral yet we know how by its very ‘newness’ it reinforces; the stereotypes it supposedly refutes. Are we making old art with new technology? Certainly it appears cyber art forms move faster than laws, experiences and concepts than people can keep pace with.
Jason Davidson’s mechanical, heavy metal, graffiti X-ray animals jar the eye yet line up with the Wadeye [Port Keats] traditional society’s youth culture. Here the community is dominated by two warring extremely visible street gangs ‘The Judas Priests’ and ‘The Evil Warriors’ despite an intense Aboriginal religious life, language retention and many other ‘traditional’ practices. It is in these communities that Asian ‘Kung Fu’ action movies were the most popular films. Where the language of the script was rendered irrelevant, and the constant fight sequences; where the small defeat the powerful, good overcomes evil and those aggrieved achieved some form of justice is were the meaningful connections made between the movies and the communities.


This land is me
Rock, water, animal; tree
They are my song
My being’s here where I belong
This land owns me
From generations past to infinity
We’re all but woman and man
You only fear what you don’t understand
Tracker Albert Riley, [Written by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody],
One Night the Moon, 2001.


Franz Fanon wrote of how colonialism and racism are a form of violence that is embedded through every facet of colonial cultural expression, so subtle and pervasive as to be invisible. To make his point he described the cruel disjunction of a black man [himself] watching the film ‘Tarzan’ [1932] with a black audience in French colonised Martinique, watching the same film in a ‘white’ audience in Paris. Overcoming racism through the appropriation by coloured people of film histo-graphies and critique lies in the roll-call of Jenny Fraser’s wittily titled work ‘name that movie’ vignettes of Hollywood films.
Postcards were already a ‘holiday item’ when the ‘Box Brownie’ camera technology democratically liberated photography for the masses [including some yet to be identified Aboriginal people] in 1900. Popular among a myriad exotic postcard images were those of the stereotyped primitive other. Andrew Hill’s composition reverses the gaze to unveil the stereotype of the westerner we see exposed in all its true ugliness.
Our historical landscape; our terrain; pathways to enrichment and positive adventures, through British colonisation became unguarded openings to the heart of our societies and our dreams. R E A’s dream sequences alternate from soft pleasurable, ‘prenatal’, almost indescribable experiences and memories to the jarring equally unbelievably brutal inhuman colonial violence - ‘Maang [Message Stick]’.
When the British visited the Australian continent in 1770 there were at least 250 distinct languages living in a myriad of ‘vernacular’ groups and differing cultural and physical environ-niches across Australia. Through the colonisation processes, over the last 200 years, a flattening of this terrain, to some extent, has happened. However Aboriginal people continue to still live, work, create and dream in an extended number of ancient and new pathways, lifestyles, expressions, contemporary dreaming tracks and song-lines. We remain in a persistently optimistic, confident and extremely visible outlook on our futures as part of a modern vibrant contributing Aboriginal culture life.

essay by Djon Mundine OAM
April 2008

For VT2, an international digital touring exhibition by IDA 
(International Digital Art Projects)
opened at QUT, Brisbane, May 2008.

the Blackout contribution to VT2 was co-curated by Jenny Fraser and co-presented by cyberTribe

Download the Catalogue here 

VT2 presented vibrant, innovative screen-based and photo-media works from international artists alongside Indigenous Australian new-media artists, building on 2007’s Vernacular Terrain exhibition.
For the first time a group of Aboriginal New Media Artists are included in the annual tour of International Digital Arts courtesy of Artist / Curator Jenny Fraser (QLD), also including work from: r e a (NSW), Jason Davidson (NT) and Andrew Hill (QLD) and a collaboration by Christine Peacock, John Graham & Rebekah Pitt (QLD) with Djon Mundine (NSW) offering the Curatorial Essay for the tour.Founded by Stephen Danzig in 1999, IDAprojects was the first nexus of its kind providing a platform for academia, research technologies and professional art practices in building a new discourse. For the past eight years the IDA program has grown to feature a national and international touring exhibition with an aim to present leading artists from around the world who engage in new media arts and research technologies.  Launched in Brisbane on May 1, the project reflects a global commitment to exploring cultural identity through leading professional arts practice in digital media from Curators Stephen Danzig, Lubi Thomas, Xu Da Wei, Matthew Perkins and Pauline Doutreluingne along with cyberTribe / blackout curator Jenny Fraser.  QUT, in partnership with IDAprojects and the Beijing Film Academy has developed this international touring exhibition which was also presented throughout Asia – including the Beijing Olympics Cultural Festival – and later included a tour of regional Australia.
VT2