SPIRIT & VISION
Jason Davidson - - -
Aboriginal Imagination: An Indigenous New Media Arts Project
Aboriginal Imagination is about Indigenous people taking control. Taking control of the images representing their culture, taking control of their media and its production; taking control of translations of their knowledge systems. Aboriginal Imagination is also about showing us different ways of understanding and using technology in the development of creative expressions.
This exhibition gives us fresh, exciting, even raw perspectives of differing elements of contemporary Aboriginal Australia. The images presented have been taken through the artists’ own eyes and not through the lens of a white man’s camera. Aboriginal lifestyles have been cultures of study for many, many years. With this history came misinterpretations and misappropriations. But ‘new media’ or ‘digital’ technologies in the hands of these artists have the ability to change all this. Not only are they tools for making art, but they are also important mediums for the recording and preservation of language, knowledge systems and cultural activities.
New media art is a hybrid practice; so is Indigenous art. This exhibition showcases recent works that demonstrate this mix.
Jason Davidson is a contemporary Aboriginal artist from the Northern Territory. His family was assimilated by the Australian government through the process of the 'Stolen Generation', in the Northern Territory. His grandmother's country is Gurindji country in the direction of Kalkaringi in the Northern Territory, an Aboriginal town formally known as Wave Hill. His grandfather's country is located near Roper River up towards the Limmen Bight region of the Northern Territory. This is the area of the Ngalakarn, Mara and Bundiyarng people.
Jason’s work gives an insight into the ways in which Aboriginal art and culture is incorporating modern technology. It is about reclaiming and restating his culture within the dominant frameworks of western health sciences. His artwork is now in a class of its own; reflecting the diversity of Aboriginal culture and the potential for multimedia technologies to become a very powerful voice for his people.
“My work is about being strong for my culture. It is saying that Aboriginal culture can play an equal part with technology in guiding our future; that Aboriginal ways and understandings are equally valid. I want our cultural knowledge to be taken seriously”.
Jason strives to represent a more a holistic approach to understanding and communicating Aboriginal knowledge by taking scientific structures and integrating them with understandings of spirit, function and survival. This is the basis for his Masters Degree titled Aboriginal Imagination- an interactive DVD that coincides with his thesis. Here Jason is working on developing more culturally appropriate education materials for Aboriginal health education by using art, Aboriginal knowledge and technology.
Jason works with new media technologies in both the conceptual development and production of his art. In these new multimedia pieces, Jason’s practice incorporates graphics design, animation, narrative and music to presents us with the opportunity to see view his own culture through his eyes and interpretations.
The ‘Hunting Stories’ documents the skills and knowledges inherent in these important practices. Understanding of the habitat, behaviour and physiology of the respected animal are shown in short video presentations. Kidney Problems in Aboriginal Australia have now reached Epidemic Proportions creates a visual package, including animations, that illustrates the appearance, workings and relationships of the kidneys to other body functions.
This physiological knowledge has been the inspiration of much of the Indigenous x-ray style art - including Jason’s own earlier works, also shown in Aboriginal Imagination.
Jason strongly believes the current health education materials for Aboriginal renal patients are no good as they looked like stick figured kindergarten images drawn in black & white. “I believe Aboriginal people are being psychologically discriminated against through some of the health education materials being used... It is like saying that Aboriginal people not clever enough to learn from complicated images…I wanted to prove that hunting stories was the best way to educate Aboriginal people on the kidney, were it is in the body & what it looks like etc...”
Indigenous New Media artists have much to offer in understanding where the boundaries and future capabilities of technology lie- working alongside technology, bending and extending it for their own cultural means, rather than allowing it to control us as a master.
“Excerpt from catalogue essay written by Linda Cooper for Aboriginal Imagination, 5-21 February 2004, a screen and new media arts exhibition presented by dLux media arts at Blacktown Art Centre Gallery, Australia.”
Kidney Disease in Aboriginal Australia has now reached epidemic proportions
Digital Print 2001
Health Education 2003