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 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.


imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival

blackout collective website:

unsettled can be found at this link: conference