I struggled a lot around this period.
The only real hard data I was getting came from Aboriginal rights research, not really from anything I had read on Aboriginal Dreaming. I was getting Aboriginal star charts that correlated with physical roads and highways, and Astrology diagrams, and then lots of Aboriginal artwork, however nothing that really generated raw data. The essence of dreamtime is that it was taught verbally, not written down, and was more so ‘felt’ and injected into painting.

So for a long while I was frozen up between doing something more straight foward which had the information to back it, or kind of blindly swim around this great pool of speculative information. Therefore my original proposals were somewhat confused in themslves.

1. Data visualisation that explores the way media in essence creates a trajectory for growth in young Aboriginal children, simply by influence and oversaturation of ideas alone. It would be a collection of portraits of children taken at the local Newtown public. Each child photographed would be asked to draw on paper what they would like to be in the future, on top of a generic human figure outline. This drawing would then be superimposed over the original photo, as if they’d drawn on themselves. The last transparent layer would be real headlines published by Australian news sources on the topic of Aboriginal youth,. revealing how similar the headlines/assumptions are, in direct contrast to the wild dreams and wishes these kids originally had.

2. Generative Design fixated on a similar concept of Aboriginal children being stunted in growth by discriminatory media agendas. An online children’s Dreamtime book would be constructed— visually being illustrated in a way that was joyful and upbeat, with the body copy being entirely generated by headlines, tweets and facebook comments, again placing Aboriginal children in boxes. The text would always refresh, drawing on a databank of key words. Therefore the book would always change, yet never evolve, unless popular opinion did.

3. Generative Design that constructs a twitter bot for a fake news agency. The twitter would be established as genuinely as possibly, using every graphic means to fake authenticity. The tweets would be randomly generated again, pulling words and phrases from other tweets of opinion on Aboriginal issues. The bot would evolve and grow an audience, and the audience would comment and interact back at the bot, essentially creating an infinite loop of intolerance, where the people who write inflammatory comments fuel the twitter bot which regurgitates their content back, and validates them one more. Then we the public sit back and see a working metaphor for the problem in our media.

4. Data Visualization of a living pot plant, representing youth and growth, slowly fed by an IV drip system. You can set these IV’s to administer doses at certain times. My proposal would be to intercept this feeding timer, and force it to feed the plant only when a tweet or headline was posted online, containing certain predefined key words or phrases. When the headline was positive and uplifting, the IV would administer nitrogen rich water. When the headline was negative, discriminatory, or touched an issue that was deemed over represented, the IV would administer a poisonous solution. I could physically make one of these, as my father is a vet, and they’re simple to operate. Writing a program to administer the doses would be hard, however it would be nice to physically display a representation of media interference with young minds maturation.

5. Lastly, after talking with Tom, he encouraged me to follow what I was passionate about, which was misunderstanding of amazing Aboriginal religious systems, and begun trying to find a way to form a system to reveal these passions.
The main problem is that understanding exists between two ‘walls’. Aboriginal Elders who have lived and still live the Dreaming, yet rarely wish to talk on the experiences (from fear of misrepresentation and misunderstanding), and on the other side, are scholars who interpret this information with somewhat of a synthetic, metallic form of analysis. My proposal is then to form a generative system, based around the already generative nature of Aboriginal artwork, that allows everyday Australians the chance to sit in that space between experience, and interpretation. A space which allows for some sort of spiritual interpretation of the land Aborigines preserved for 120,000 years, with assistance (or roadmap) generated from opposite, scholarly study side of The Dreaming.

My response to discovering this place, is by experiencing it. To form this design system, I’m going to spend 2 nights alone in traditional Aboriginal land. I’ll do this alone, with a sleeping bag, billy, knife, flint and some basic provisions. The decisions I make in designing the process will directly affect the journey. I’ll document this journey, and form it in a way so that it’s a process others can experience.

I’m really passionate about this. I’ve talked about it a great deal with my sister, and with friends from work (in NITV). My biggest concern was going about this process in a manner that would not be offensive or seem to be bastardising of traditional Aboriginal culture. I’m taking great care in forming something that provides insight and forms understanding, opposed to insensitive perversion.


7.0 Stakeholder mapping

Connecting our issues and stakeholders went like most other ‘butchers paper’ sessions went. Laura and I threw down as much content as we could in a matter that was free and flowing. By this stage, we have both established our main personal focal points for the issue. She’s associating herself with Aboriginal rights and relations within current day Australian society, whereas i’ve focused myself on the Aboriginal history of The Dreaming, and the Cosmology and philosophies underpinning system.

These maps tend to lean more toward Aboriginal issues adn stakeholders in modern society, as opposed to The Dreaming, however that in a sense illustrates the problem I’m attempting to address. That is, a lack of knowledge and education in Aboriginal history, (not to be confused with the history of Aboriginal people under commonwealth rule).

Connecting these stakeholders with Laura solidified some notions I’d been reflecting on since my data scrapes. That is, the media holds a great deal more power in moulding public opinion on Aboriginal matters than I was first aware of. Almost all of the news we receive on Aboriginal people, essentially  go through this filter of media. They control what we see. Due in large part to the fact that we have little other sources in our day to day lives. NAIDOC week is only once a year, and festivals like Garma are small and extremely localised. Schools and school curriculum do a poor job of teaching us proper Aboriginal history, and essentially fail in planting the seed of interest that motivates us to research things later on, for ourselves.

These maps revealed, that even when a platform is given to an esteemed Aboriginal figure, or pertinent Aboriginal issue, that it is immediately muddied by this ratings fuelled rush for counter opinions and often invalid alternate assessments. This perfectly reflects the difficulty faced by Aboriginal Elders in discussing or attempting to explain their spiritual past. It all goes through a filter of interpretation.  As Christine Nicholls explains in her introduction to the dreaming,

Unfortunately, since colonisation, this multiplicity of semantically rich, metaphysical word-concepts framing the epistemological, cosmological and ontological frameworks unique to Australian Aboriginal people’s systems of religious belief have been uniformly debased and dumbed-down”

Essentially, we do a similar thing with our media. Take a diverse and richly expansive culture, compress and compress and compress and compress it down to a few single issues, and frame it all into a single repetitive monologue of land rights, juvenile detention, remote aboriginal communities and general discrimination.

The issues may change with time, however the formula remains. Aboriginal culture gets stamped on and dumbed down by Australian media, which is consumed in great volume by the general public, thus continually driving the wheels in mis-education and intolerance.

Some interesting statistics from the creativespirits.info website.

9%  Proportion of Aboriginal people who believe the media presents a balanced view of Aboriginal Australians [1]

74% – Surveyed proportion of articles about Aboriginal health that were negative; that were neutral: 11%; that were positive: 15% [2].

81Page out of a total of 84 pages on which the Sun Herald reported about “critically endangered” Aboriginal languages [3].

16%  Proportion of non-Aboriginal Australians who believe the media presents a balanced view of Aboriginal people [1].

Interestingly, we somewhat see the problem in the situation, we just failure to act on it. I believe the problem is buried somewhere inside a proper understanding, and consequently appreciation for richness of Aboriginal history.


[1] Reconciliation Barometer 2010, Key Findings Fact Sheet
[2] ‘Portraying Positive Stories In Aboriginal Health’, Right Now 15/9/2014
[3] ‘Light is fading for indigenous languages’, Sun Herald 23/9/2012

6.0 Web Scrape

I ignored Twitter and decided to dig through google analytics, comparing the data to news trends within Australia, in attempt to find any interesting trends or patterns within our media services or general public opinion.

This graph relates to keyword searches for /Aboriginal and /rights over the last 5 years.


There’s very clear peaks and valleys within the graph. They seem somewhat cyclical also. I noticed clear peaks around the October and may periods for the last two years, so I decided to investigate popular news clusters from that period.
This function searches for online news articles from sources that are exclusively publically traded (publically owned/traded shares) by Australian law, within a defined date period, and organises them in order of ascending popularity (click throughs, time spent on page, times the link has been shared. The reasons for exclusively Public owned sources is the following,

– News media with ownership dispersed through public traded shares must meet predetermined (extremely high) budget figures to be traded on the exchange. Companies that meet these expectations hold their power because they own majority of viewership/readership within Australia. These companies include Fairfax and the ABC for instance— both at differing ends of the political spectrum, though both Publically traded. Therefore the search function, I feel, is incredibly objective, while at the same time eliminates little read/known publications which would affect the interpretation of data. The idea here, is to gauge insight into the general public consensus of thought, which means sourcing data from popular nationally read news only.

October 20 – Nov 20 [2014]
So, starting at the far left red dot, the most popular news issues between concerning /Aboriginal /Aboriginals were.

Proposed laws to Aboriginal heritage act preventing Aboriginal groups from making any land rights claims, in conjunction with heavy proposals to close increasing number of Remote communities. Inside of that are many articles discussing trends in remote Aboriginal health and welfare. 

Aboriginal man dies in custody at Casuarina Prison. It’s the 2nd time in 3 months that there has been an Aboriginal death in custody, after a 22yo Aboriginal woman passed away at South Hedland Police Station after being detained for overdue fines. 

May 1st – June 30 [2015]

Story on 3 year old Samara Muir makes national news, as she attempted to ‘scrub her skin white’ while dressing up as a cahracter from Disney film, ‘Frozen’. All major national news sources provide at least one piece + lots of discussion columns. Also breaks international news interest, being covered in United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, United States and New Zealand.
Continued discussion on forced closure of Aboriginal communities. Woven through that is once again a great of discussion of Aboriginal wellbeing, specifically alcoholism and youth detention rates (with no article showing comparison figures to other demographics)

Oct 1 – Dec 1 [2015]

Federal inquiry into previously mentioned case on Ms Dhu dying in police custody, reignites national discussion on treatment of Aboriginals in detainment/Police brutality. There is a great deal of reporting on that.

Further articles on Aboriginal Community closures spark a small pocket of coverage on an isolated fight in the NT which left two men dead. The articles merely reference the Aboriginal community the situation occurred in, along with mention of ‘spears’, then deal almost exclusively with Police interviews and opinions on the matter. Small event, however it was obviously shared considerably. 

Canadian news event contaminated the data slightly. Lots of hits pertaining to Canadian elections boosted the popularity figures for this period, and affected the height of the peak marginally. Sadly, something that is unavoidable if I also wish to explore international news trend relations, such as the case was with Samara Muir.

June 3 – Aug 5 [2016]

The major peak here was the recent events and inquiry at Don Dale detention centre. This is a national news story, and all publication write a multitude of content on the events. There is no real ‘take’ from international agencies. 

There’s a bizzare bump around Bill Shortens appearance on ABC’s Q&A, and his comments that Australia did not “handle Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people well”. Lots of agencies comment on this, and lots of people read/shared the articles. It’s strange. A great deal of the information is published by traditional Right wing agencies such as newscorp/fairfax, and the articles are more concerned with belittling shorten and treating his comments as borderline treasonous, opposed to discussing perhaps the reason by the comments. 

A breakthrough in DNA technology leads to Aboriginal people definitively being the continent’s first Australians. This is the first popular news issue that does not concern itself with Aboriginal land rights, mistreatment, or health and well being. Finally. 

Therefore, all these peaks relate to national news which more-often-than-not concerns itself with Aboriginal violence, violence toward Aboriginals, community closures and Aboriginal mental and physical health. Almost never does a trend peak form from the  promotion of a positive Aboriginal figure, or Aboriginal event. Now of course, there’s plenty of news agencies which covers these positive topics, however they are rarely read, viewed or considered popular by objective data, stemming from public opinion.

Also, remember, the graph was formed using /Aboriginal /rights, to reveal peaks of news on aboriginal rights. And those peaks were explored with only /Aboriginal /Aboriginals, therefore all the articles shown above that happened to be concerned with Aboriginal rights (almost all of them) were there purealy because Aboriginal rights discussion is the most popular form of discussion among Australians. Which stinks.

now, PLEASE, I’m not saying discussion on Aboriginal rights is a bad thing, I feel that it becomes a bad thing when it’s almost EXCLUSIVELY what Australians consider important when discussing Aboriginal people. Can we not have popular news that lifts the Aboriginal community, become popular news in Australia?

I kinda wanted to explore this further.
I used an SEO scraper to examine search trends inside of google products (including youtube). This process explores direct Keyword searches for the use of ‘Aboriginal’, In relation to the click through content for these pages (the click through is the url you select after the initial search) and the content including _Aboriginal.
Search engines use a ‘spider’ program to automatically ‘crawl’ through webpages and index its information based on text content inside the site. Therefore, there’s somewhat of a hidden index which exists on the internet. This process  of SEO scraping was engineered and is traditionally used for, ‘Search Engine Optimization’— to find where you website ranks in internet searches, and allows you to go back and alter your content so that you have a more enveloping index, and consequently sit higher on  google searches.

All that aside, you can kinda reverse use SEO scrapers to access information on this index. It won’t give you figures, however it will show you trends.

Here are the trends for Aboriginal_Rights (54-78)  _Aboriginal (81-105)

(Apologies for screenshot. This SEO scraper only exported to google drive spreadsheet, and I didn’t want to grant it access to my drive)

The interesting list is for _Aborginal, which pretty much all, from 1-25 concern themselves with Aboriginal rights, whether it be by topic, or Aboriginal rights activist. Once again the sole narrative surrounding Aboriginal people is rights. Not community, not art, not spirituality, rarely history. It’s as if, for something to become popular, or even published, they HAVE TO concern themselves with the plight of Aboriginal people. Again, I truly believe we should always be discussing the rights of Aboriginal people, but as I’ve mentioned before, when all you hear about something or someone is chained to violence, sadness, mistreatment, abuse, no matter what bias is placed on it, your opinion of that thing becomes poisoned. It’s toxic. Whyyyyy the fuck are we constantly  under-valuing and ignoring the amazing culture of spirituality and ecological preservation that existed in this continent for tens of thousands of years. It has to be so so so so difficult growing up Aboriginal and constantly having your culture empowerment brushed aside in place of constant and never ending narratives on why you’ve been mistreated, then opposing opinions on whether you have or have not been mistreated, then crappy opinons on how the mistreatment can end.

If you want something crazy to end on, this graph is created from the search term /Aboriginal, and the plots marked in Yellow are the exact centres of NAIDOC week. A special annual celebration for the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There are obvious depressions where you would consider spikes to be. For this I have no explanation, however my reaction is pretty dismal. It’s just saddening. So so so saddening.


And the most popular search term related to /Aboriginal during last NAIDOC week? (Jul 3-10/2016)


So happy I asked…

3.1 Images


Bill Leeks released this cartoon nationally in The Australian following the leaked videos from Don Dale Detention centre. It’s a prime example of how not to react to a horrific, racially motivated situation. The simple fact that ‘The Australian’ stood by this image, (and his previous equally discriminatory cartoons) reveals how pretty fucked up their newsroom, chief of staff and ethics really are. Worse still is the actual national popularity of the publication.


In response to the Bill Leaks cartoon, Aboriginal fathers took to twitter under the hashtag #indigenousdads, to visually show their opposition to the views expressed in The Australian. Twitter is great, because it allows these organic movements of ‘real imagery’ to circulate throughout society (showing Aboriginal men are obviously good fathers), opposed to all the grossly incorrect sampling a lot of media outlets in Australia hide their news behind.


This is a great photo from Garma Festival in the NT. The festival runs parallel to other major festivals like splendour in the grass, revealing a nice cross section of Australian Y generations interest in amazing local culture, against a bullshit pinger fest. This picture is great, because it shows all ‘types’ of people being embraced and immersed inside of a really organic, ambient genuine aboriginal environment.


This is from a series of photographs taken by farmer Thomas Dick in the 1920’s, and found in a rusted old tin on his property. It’s a very earnest portrayal of Port Macquarie/Coastal Aboriginal communities still living in a mostly undisturbed environment. The photo is brilliant in revealing the unique synergy even recent Aboriginals had with the environment around here. A bark canoe sits in a natural appropriated dock caused by a lightning strike on a tree. Thomas lets the scene speak for itself, and gives a voice to early aboriginals when they had none, during the tumultuous early stages of modern Australian life.


This is an extension of Thomas Dicks previous photo, however with the added context of a modern landscape underlaid behind the original. I really adore this photo, because in essence it’s revealing of an Aboriginal tribe living within a particular area, being forcibly removed, and that area still looking exactly the same as it had 80 years earlier— one again indicative of the close union Aboriginal people had with the land.
Show a before and after photo of any european inhabited area 80 years apart and the difference would be immense.


This gif is taken from the HIGHLY [OVERLY] PUBLICISED celebration by iconic sportsman Adam Goodes after kicking a important mark in a 2015 AFL game. Within hours of this happening live, countless novice and reputable news sources alike plastered social media with the video and their uneducated interpretation of the aggresive nature of Goodess cultural ‘Spear dance’. It was only when finally, Aboroginal communities themselves were consulted about the ‘incident’, which is when they pointed out it was a ficticious boomerang he was holding, not an aggressive spear— immediately identifying how fucking stupid and brash a great deal of our media is. Furthermore, the Maori tradition of performing the Haka before representing their nation is considered patriotic, and heavily respected by Australian people, whereas this very similarly tribal cultural celebration was accepted with heavy backlash, despite characterising a fraction of the aggression of the Haka. Ummmmmm??????

Iconic photo of Patrick Mills hitting a go-ahead 3 pointer which would eventually lead to the victory of the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Championship. Patty Mills in an Aboriginal Australia who is currently in his 7th season in the American national basketball league. Playing in the NBA is an incredible achievement (about three in every 10,000 or .003% players who play competative HS basketball will continue on the NBA), more incredible is the fact most people know much about him, short of every 4 years when channel 7 hypes him up for their olympics broadcasts. Andrew Gaze, a household name in Aus basketball, also played with the spurs, averaging less than HALF patty’s points per game, and 1/4 of his assists and minutes. I’m a big Patrick fan, and I get frustrated when people comment that we have no good ball players in Aus, while a guy who averages 9ppg in the most athletic league in the world gets ignored largely because he is not marketable to Aus. A large part of that I feel, being his cultural background.


This is Truganini, an Aboriginal woman from Tasmania who at a young age was already special due to her role in educating others in her tribe (a role normally kept for elder villagers). Post european invasion, after witnessing horrific crimes against humanity, Truganini continued her work in education, this time urging her people to dissect and understand the white invaders, to earn empathy, and fight back for their independance more effectively. As a young ‘classically’ uneducated woman, she showed more diplomacy in the face of horror than anyone in a patriarchal european system.


Working at SBS during NAIDOC week means that a part of my job is trawling through twitter for NAIDOC content to repost. I came across and liked this picture for the simple fact that it shows a typical young Australian genuinely seeking out and enjoying Aboriginal culture in the NT.
Twitter has become a large part of news broadcasts, and despite that you never see regular, communal stuff like this make on the 7 news bulletin, however they will repost a Tweet from Robbo35 in Stradbroke Island who reckons there’s “too many burkas on the beach” there and that they “must get pretty hot in that ‘ay.”


This is a photo from American born Levi-Craig Murray’s photographic essay ‘Modern indigenous Australia’. I thought this was a really interesting project— an offshore artist coming to Australia to document the landscape of Aboriginal people away from the embedded discriminations existing in the country. “The media seems to flood, inundate people with very raw photography, and it’s all images of people in northern or central parts of our country,” But he says there are many and varied faces of Indigenous people, right across the continent. “The Indigenous people that are living in the city – I wanted to show that those people still have a deep connection to their country and culture too.”
It’s an interesting simple concept, that you somewhat rarely consider.

1. Bill Leak
Leek, B. 2016, The crucial role of fathers, ABC, viewed 22nd August 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-04/scullion-condemns-‘racist’-cartoon-in-the-australian/7692234&gt;

2. #IndigenousDad
John Paul Janke, (2016), – [ONLINE]. Available at: https://twitter.com/jpjanke?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw [Accessed 30 August 2016].

3. Garma
Unknown – Garma Fest, (2016), Garma [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/garma2016/photos

4. Thomas Dick Photo
Thomas Dick, (1923), Untitled [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-24/uncovering-australias-indigenous-past-with-new-photographs/6969778 [Accessed 31 August 2016].

5. Thomas Dick Photo II
Thomas Dick, (1923), Untitled [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-24/uncovering-australias-indigenous-past-with-new-photographs/6969778 [Accessed 31 August 2016].

6. Goodes
FOX Sports. (2015). Buddy sinks blues with seven goals. [Online Video]. 30 May 2015. Available from: http://www.smh.com.au/afl/sydney-swans/sydney-swans-adam-goodes-celebrates-goal-with-indigenous-war-dance-ruffles-feathers-20150529-ghczbr.html. [Accessed: 30 August 2016].

7. Patty The Kid
NBA getty images, (2014), getty [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.nba.com/spurs/video/channel/highlights [Accessed 30 August 2016].ty-mills-plays-key-role-as-san-antonio-spurs-defeat-the-heat-to-claim-nba-title/story-fni2u9cl-1226955592692?nk=f032352c036646272506e6d9c6adca95-1473222350

8. Truganini
NITV provided, (2016), – [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2015/03/06/20-inspiring-black-women-who-have-changed-australia [Accessed 30 August 2016].

9. Hurley Tweet
Monique Hurley, (2016), – [ONLINE]. Available at: https://twitter.com/monique_hurley/status/751240544597078017/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw [Accessed 30 August 2016].

10. Levi Craig
Levi-Craig Murray, (2016), – [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/modernindigenousaustralia/photos

3.0 Stakeholders

Map of stakeholder surrounding Aboriginal Rights.

Laura was a great partner to fill this out with. We have similar outlooks on societal constructs; moreso, a similar understanding of the interaction between media, government and public conventions.

It’s interesting however, we were laying down names and agencies on the butchers paper through a ‘stream of consciousness’ sort of application. And near every name had some affiliation with media, or popular opinion. It was as if most everything we knew or understood of Aboriginal rights has passed through a filter of media, like— It had to represented in news (good or bad) or  be a part of some national discussion before we were aware of it. Very few if any names we put down were local or personal sources, and very little had any to do with Aboriginal heritage or ancestry.

It’s practically all Aboriginal figures in rights issues, the politicians affecting those issues, and the media agencies trafficking the information. There was a lack of Aboriginal figureheads beyond sports stars, and all around greatest man on earth, Ernie Dingo. Does the problem stem from our own lack of awareness, motivation to seek Aboriginal news in our own means, or what (lack of) selected Aboriginal news is actually presented to us, or a mixture of all.


2.1 Skydome

Ok,wow, where the hell was this in our textbooks.

I remember being taught about dreamtime. About the collaboration Aboriginal people had with the earth, and spirits in the sky. However I never new the entire system had deep roots in social-cultural astrology— furthermore, grounded in a DEEP understanding of astrology well before any other european, asian or african nation. In fact they’re considered the first beings to name celestial objects in the sky.

“when Europeans made first contact they labelled the Aborigines as primitive. Later in the 19th and early 20th centuries, ethnologists, anthropologists and scholars found that the Aborigines in fact had a complex socio-cultural religious system which was used to conduct their daily lives and the life cycle of birth, growth and death.”

What strikes me about this, is that in essence, the ‘religion’ of aboriginal people was born from astrology. Key religious figures from the culture were born in or eventually made their way to the stars, where they resided in constellations, looking over the people below. Opposed to other forms of religion which based themselves on figurative messiahs, or messiahs of human flesh and appearance, the Aboriginal people based their social system on specific and solid aspects of nature. There exists a true synergy between man and the environment, moreso than any religion or even societal culture I can think of (in my limited knowledge) today.

Even more outstanding, is the fact that their education system was based on this deep understanding of astrology. Of such importance is a knowledge of the stars to the Aborigines in their night journeys and of their positions denoting particular seasons of the year, that astronomy, and reflecting on the sky and movements of the stars above is considered one of the principal branches of education.

Facts-about-Aboriginal-Dance.jpegAboriginals get all the cool homework


By watching the movement of the stars the Aborigines of central Australia discerned for themselves that certain stars neither rise nor set, i.e. they are circumpolar

The system was based on absolute laws of astrology.  Celestial patterns would note a certain fish were in season in the north, or that Dingo’s would be breeding in central Australia. And based on these laws, they would seek food or supplies for their language groups. Again, this is absolute synergy with nature.


Stars: Natures first porn search engine 

Furthermore, astrology provided grounds for culture laws and morals (morals of which have ALWAYS been attributed to conservative religions such as christianity and the bible)

“The Aboriginal people use the celestial objects in the sky as a moral book to inform their people of how to conduct themselves. The rules they enact on land are transposed into the sky for all to read. For example, the star Aldebaran referred to above also serves to illustrate a story about what happens to people who are adulterers. According to the Aborigines of the Clarence River region in New South Wales, Karambal (Aldebaran) stole the wife of another man and hid her in a tree. The husband set fire to the tree and the flames carried Karambal into the sky where he is easily seen and pointed out as the red star which is still burning (Mathews 1905). It serves as a constant reminder to anyone who is contemplating committing adultery. “

Another interesting note, is that this education of nature and the stars above were passed on and taught in an oral nature. Stories and laws were taught by word of mouth, and taught in the sand on in basic carvings. Things were never ‘written down’ in the historical english sense of the term. There you have an education that is constantly evolving and growing based on human interpretation. – opposed to something such as the 2nd amendment, which because it is written formally, has little chance of receiving a further amendment, despite the societal demand and need.

This oral fixation on information has of course led to problems in todays society under traditional english law— “ Their law had been passed down from one generation to another in their oral tradition. However, within the Australian legal system of common law, oral testimony may be classified as hearsay and it is therefore inadmissible as evidence.” Therefore a great deal of the ‘religious’ aspect of aboriginal dreamtime (which should be protected) is lost in courts.

Large areas of land with very acute cultural significance is lost, because the elders cannot ‘truly justify’ their historical relevance.

Bhathal, Dr Ragbir Bhathal. “Astronomy In Aboriginal Culture”. A&G 2006: 27-30. Print.

1.5 Extensive


Christine provides some really well articulated insights into the modern interpretation of The Dreaming in this the conversation.com article.

She writes,

“Unfortunately, since colonisation, this multiplicity of semantically rich, metaphysical word-concepts framing the epistemological, cosmological and ontological frameworks unique to Australian Aboriginal people’s systems of religious belief have been uniformly debased and dumbed-down”

This is the inherent problem with trying to frame something so unique into something which is digestible in the modern sense. Especially given our modern society is so heavily influenced by western [typically white] authority. As freethinkers, our natural reaction to a foreign concept is to compare and contrast is against something we are certain about, or have knowledge of. The Dreaming as we understand it undergoes a lot before it gets to us.

600-800 Aboriginal dialects gets sorted into 250 odd seperate language groups,

Those groups are lumped together and translated into a general meaning from which ‘The Dreaming’ emerges.

We then interpret and attempt to decode The Dreaming (now a majorly impartial product) using modern frameworks of religion.

What emerges is a heavily compromised spiritual system which we have little true understanding of. A great deal of this misunderstanding is due to the fact very little was recorded or written down. Aboriginal elders chose to teach verbally, passing lessons from generations to the next, forming a forever changing and easily adaptive encyclopaedia of knowledge. Furthermore the teachings are location based. So it makes sense that this intricate system cannot be compacted into a single curriculum, because it is a network of experience combining to mimic an ecosystem in itself. Perhaps this is why it is so hard to teach? Yet what makes it so truly fascinating.

“As noted earlier, the Warlpiri people of the Tanami Desert describe their complex of religious beliefs as the Jukurrpa”

Further south-east, the Arrerntic peoples call the word-concept the Altyerrenge or Altyerr (in earlier orthography spelled Altjira and Alcheringa and in other ways, too).

The Kija people of the East Kimberley use the term Ngarrankarni (sometimes spelled Ngarrarngkarni); while the Ngarinyin people (previously spelled Ungarinjin, inter alia) people speak of the Ungud (or Wungud)”

“Use one word for it all and get back to me. I’ve got enough on my plate with keno numbers and leering at Indian blokes all day”

The Dreaming evolves with location, because no two locations are the same. As previously mentioned, this creates an eco system of knowledge, and growing and adapting in small parts, while effecting the society as a whole. This is why land is so important to Aboriginal people. It has absolutely nothing to do with value, or severance— it’s integral to the overall fabric of the Aboriginal people. Without one patch of land, the quilt is incomplete. All locations and knowledge are sacred to one another.

I feel like I’m repeating myself, but I’ve never in my life encountered a system of thinking that has such a strong base in ecology, of which the Aboriginal people formed.

Molly Tasman Napurrurla, Warlpiri, 2003, Marrkirdi Jukurrpa, (‘Wild Bush Plum Dreaming’), on Magnani Pescia paper, image size 490×320 mm

Looking at this artwork by Molly Tasman Napurrurla, we see the Dreaming encapsulate itself into somewhat of a map. It shows the Bush plum and their locations, their density and form. It reveals the interaction they have with Humans and other animals alike, and it shows the way in which humans and animals have chosen to respond.

Aboriginal artwork, dating back 50,000 years, provided scientific maps displaying the interaction between the environment and mankind. They are probably the earliest form of generative design— Which blows my mind. This early generative artistic thinking is at the core of Emergent Practices, and I’ve been ignorant to it for so long. I get the sense this is partly due to being taught to value The Dreaming and Aboriginal artwork as seperate entities all throughout our formative education.

Even the term artwork seems odd. We again wring Aboriginal artwork through the modern culture frame of what WE accept as artwork. Mainly display pieces. We view them as decorative. However by my true definition of art (hold onto your hats sportsfans, a 26yo kid is about to give a definitive all encompassing definition of artwork in a university blog), which is some sort of cognitive, abstract visual or sense based performance representing the artists thinking or though system— Then the Aboriginal people are kind of the first ever Artists, and their artwork is the first system based representation of a structure of thinking, probably by tens of thousands of years.

The deeper I dig and reflect on Aboriginal people, the more I realise how absolute their handprint on the history of mankind is. Everyone is interested in their lineage. Why then are we less interested in the lineage of our entire race, when it’s so obviously there for us, every day, to reflect on. Nutters.


wheredidicomefrom2Hardback; 2nd Edition – 2016

1.4 Eco-volution


I have this kinda rough thinking space  around mankind and evolution of convenience. Basically, there’s a precise point in history where the human race reached an ecologically sustainable balance point. Something as definite as a tuning fork vibrating at the exact speed to produce a frequency. At this point, Humans exist at the top of the food table. There is no want for anything more, and we are evolved beyond the point of having too little. I believe we hit this frequency point around 60,000 years ago, and the Aboriginal people maintained that balance for the period up until British invasion.

If you observe a timeline of the Aboriginal people, you begin to notice trends in survival running alongside a seemingly little changing technological space.

Aboriginal people survive on Tasmania for tens of thousands of years, all whilst a large part of the continent remains frozen and the temperature low.

6,000 years later, the ice caps melt, they bridge to Australia is lost, and they are deserted on Tasmania enduring all the very sudden hardships that come with essentially the end of an isolated ice age

492064356There’s argument to be made that they’re still experiencing an ice age

Bone tools progress to wooden carved weapons such as the boomerang. Technology forms from necessity. And the inhabitants of Tasmania endure the environmental shift.

These stories of progression happen all throughout the Aboriginal history of Australia; Tribes on the coast construct multiple pronged spears to hunt for fish in the newly exposed bays and lakes, as a result of rising sea levels. There is a constant narrative of the environment shifting itself slowly, (as it has for the billions of years predating our existence) and the Aboriginal people responding in a way that is highly considered, holistic, and altruistic.

Look elsewhere and the timeline that develops.

  • Agriculture develops to expand over large permanent areas, and food begins to hoard, out of convenience.
  • Weapons are developed into stronger weapons, far outweighing their original purpose, for the convenience of killing easier.
  • Canoes are developed into boats, to take more people and more things further places, out of convenience.
  • Set languages are formed for the convenience of uniformity.
  • Things are recorded, numerical systems are created, history is formed, at the convenience of memory.

All these timelines lead to some our our greatest accomplishments of the modern day. A car is nothing more than convenience of travel. Fast food is the convenience of an entire system of farming and slaughtering. However the balance has lost its kilter, and now with cars we get immense pollution, and with such expansive farming, we’re experiencing severe ecological destruction by droughts and erosion. We gain and we lose.

I feel as if the Aboriginal people rarely reached that gain vs. loss level. A large part which is due to their origins of the Dreaming. Mankind are simply the maintainers of this amazing world. As a result, we sit at the top of the food table, however that responsibility directly translates to responsibility, not power. We can track and eat the other inhabitants in the world, though not excessively, because their place is a rigid supporting structure to another pillar of the ecosystem. We can share this particular environment, however shortly we must move, to allow it to regrow and recycle for the next time we may need it’s use. It’s ultimate synergy. And it’s a large part of the reason why I believe the Aboriginal people’s bizarrely criticised ’failure to develop’ only reflects their ABSOLUTE knowledge of the world they live on. Only until very very recently have we learnt the actual power of an ecosystem, however it seems that once again the Aboriginal people, and their scientific rooted knowledge of the Dreamtime, figured it out tens and tens and tens of thousands of years ago.

Here’s a thought to finish on. Assuming there’s intelligent life on other planets, why haven’t they contacted us yet? Surely, in all the solar systems in all the galaxies there has to be a race technologically advanced enough to make contact with us?
Consider this; advanced technology seems to need large amounts of fuel and energy to function, which most races would find on their own planet [first]. In order to farm these fuels, some natural resources must be destroyed in the process. It’s the law of equal and opposite reaction. So assuming a race develops the technology to travel LARGE distances in space, or transmit communications, you have to assume they’re at a very delicate apex in their history where they have to technology to perform these functions, and haven’t ruined their own planet in doing so. Now, that /their VERY precise moment in cosmic history, has to align perfectly with our own. They must have the means to contact us, in the exact moment that we can consciously receive the message, or even exist as a ‘human race’ on earth. Remember, modern society as we know it was only formed a few thousand years ago, which is a bee’s dick on the cosmic timeline.


If the far left end of the bar marks 18 billions years ago,

  • 1.1 Alien race gains sentience
  • 1.2 Begins forming tools and successive technologies
  • 1.3 Technology overtakes the conservation of planet – exhausts planetary resources to the point of extinction, or technology causes catastrophic planetary effects (much as we experiencing with global warming) All before alternative planet with near exact precise ecology is found. Alien race becomes extinct.
  • 2.1 Our own human race gains sentience
  • 2.2 This exact moment in time with all our current technologies

You can see how exactly these need to align.

SO… perhaps there’s been hundreds of forms of intelligent life that all at one point had the means to contact us, however all experienced a single recurring constant factor— a great of filter of sorts (technology) which lead to their premature demise.

Therefore, maybe the Aboriginals really held the secret to existence. Their structures, systems and thinking all reflected conservation. Their relationship with the globe existed as it should; Inhabitants and conservationists, not owners. Their mission was to uphold the systems of ecology, and they did so with ultimate results for 120,000 years.

Oh, and now imagine that entire system was taken away, stripped bare and reduced to nursery-rhyme-type fables, and replaced with something you know at your core is entirely destructive.


Pioneers of intergalactic space conservation

1.3 The Dreaming


As previously mentioned, I’m approaching this with very little preconceived notion to what the Dreaming is, beyond the bare minimum that I was taught in high school. My first mistake was continually referring to this period of Aboriginal history as the “Dreamtime”, whereas the Aboriginal elders prefer to use the term Dreaming to better reflect the timeless concept of a ‘dream’, which is itself, a constant act of creation. Furthermore, Aboriginal people have multiple terms for this continuing period of spirituality, spanning across an even more increasing collection of dialects based on the geographical location of tribes speaking it. For instance, the Ngatinyin people of north-western Australia used the term ungud to echo the idea of The Dreaming, while the Arrernte people of central Australia, used multiple terms, alcheringa and alchera.

So taking a step back and looking at this from a very general sense— you can’t help but be mystified by this entire concept.

The Dreaming is continuing, and never stagnant. It’s not human-centric, it’s not physical. It’s a continually expanding collection of abstract laws which govern the detailed interaction between the sky, the stars, the cosmos, the land, the environment, the animals and us human beings. The laws, while [having very scientific based] absolute[s] in the physical world (the constellations in the sky, the winding rivers born of runoff the mountains) have their origins and continuations in a metaphysical dream world, which constantly evolves due to the very nature of the Dream. And the term for all of this, isn’t even a term. It’s untranslatable. It’s a dialect, a knowledge passed on verbally from people to people, place to place— a perfect allegiance to the concept of the dreaming being an environment, not a command.


Aboriginal spirituality does not consider the ‘Dreamtime’ as a time past, in fact not as a time at all. Time refers to past, present and future but the ‘Dreamtime’ is none of these. The ‘Dreamtime’ “is there with them, it is not a long way away. The Dreamtime is the environment that the Aboriginal lived in, and it still exists today, all around us,” says Aboriginal author Mudrooroo. It is important to note that the Dreaming always also comprises the significance of place.”

A poignant part of this outline came at the end of the article. Dreaming gives an identity.

This is the inherent problem with modern Australia. This dreaming is improperly taught, rarely celebrated and undervalued. You look back on an event such as Adam Goodes’ celebration dance, and you get a sense of having a much greater insight into what it is— Adam Goodes drawing on the passion and fire from a spiritual world, allowing it to command his body, and expressing it outwardly in manner that celebrates his people and his world.

It’s this suffocation of identity which exists in Australia, which I feel is the primary reason Aboriginal people face so many unnecessary burdens and hardships. Everyday we get stories of Aboriginal suicide, alcoholism, juvenile detention, police brutality, land closures, violence, and not a mention of the immense colourful spiritual system which unites and consolidates all nature, including mankind, together.

A current example of the extension of this suffocation is the recent Bill Leak cartoon published in The Australian— The newspaper of choice for your super openly racist pop  which you never confront him over  because he’s just gonna die soon anyway.

Police Commissioner Racist Remark“All lives matter”

The cartoon depicted a perfect analogy of the gross prejudices we place on Aboriginal males. Alcoholism, poor parenting, lack of responsibility. All unashamedly presented as some form of ‘opinion’. It’s a national newspaper. That content is toxic.

The twitter response movement of #indigenousdads was glorious in revealing how abhorrently misleading and poisonous the cartoon was, however disturbing still is the fact that it TOOK a rogue movement to actually reveal this misalignment. There should be no need for a movement like this to break down those walls in the first place. It shows how messed up our society is that a counter to that opinion is actually necessary.

Dreaming is the ultimate form of inclusion, and all we seem to do is exclude Aboriginal people. It’s miserable.

1.2 Primitive

Aboriginal Cosmology

“Wherever we find a human society, however primitive, there is a universe, and wherever we find a universe, of whatever kind, there is a society; both go together, and the one does not exist without the other”

There’s a few consistent themes I can apply to my research on Aboriginal Dreamtime, namely— Holy shit, I had absolutely no idea. And, that is truly exceptional, my mind is blown.

Both apply aggressively to this article.

“I’ll just quickly read this article on Aboriginal Dreamti …”

This Article holds many keys I feel affected the extent to which Aboriginal people remained ‘primitive’.

There’s always a connotations attached to the modern definition of that word. We adhere a notion of being ‘underdeveloped’ to the term, as if by not confirming to the general timeline of technological advancement, that a society is lesser than another. This is not the case here. Alternatively, I’d argue that being primitive in this sense, is a positive term tied to the endearment the Aboriginal people had with the land.

If you look broadly at the evolution of man, there’s key points along the timeline that stand out as exemplary in establishing what we are today as humans.

We developed a union with tools, agriculture, a system of time (calendar) to differentiate seasons. We developed a relationship with other animals, whether that be for food or clothing or assistance, and we developed a system of recording events.

These stand out to me as defining point in humanity.

Looking at the general timeline of other civilisations, ‘we’ took those points and embellished on them. Tools turned in technology, technology affected agriculture to the point where we could harvest and no longer needed to roam, instead settled down in locations. Our relationship with animals succeed the point of union whereby species started becoming extinct through artificial human involvement. And finally our systems of recording events developed in the modern notion of History, where we logged and recorded the past so extensively that we could ‘learn and improve’ on the past.

By contrast, the Aboriginal people (to me) found that exact balance point which defined them as conscious self aware humans, at the top of the food chain, while living in total SUSTAINABLE synergy with the environment— all of which extends from their interpretation of the world and forces around them. The Dreamtime.

The branching ideas behind The Dreamtime all stem from the universe, nature, and society being formed at the same moment— The Dreaming. The ancestral spirits who created this world are all still present, however no longer visible. The spirits are not seen as being omnipotent, in the sense that humans, too, are considered to be co-creators, and by extension tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the relationship between natural and cultural forces.

“(Aboriginal) human beings have a responsibility to intervene where they consider intervention necessary and to leave things alone when they consider that necessary. Humans have the ability to adjust the system, as well as throw it out of kilter”

Already this system of religion differentiates itself from traditional monotheistic thinking, prevalent through large portions of Human history. Even when compared to say Buddhism— A religion widely considered as harmonious and balanced, still forms itself around servitude to a single deity. The Dreamtime is different. It’s responsibility based. Morals are based around liability to the land, opposed to fear of discipline.

Furthermore, (and this is the really interesting part for me), The Dreaming is grounded in proven systems. Throughout the life of the religion, Elders learnt to interpret the Sky Dome above them, and read the stars as messages from ancestral spirits, explaining the notion of seasons, and navigation, in a early form of a scientific handbook. The cosmology in the stars is proven and true, and provided a fixed pattern to live by. They observed ecological causes, and studied their effects. When lightning struck, and fire ensued, the burnt ground provided a nurturing nutrient rich blanket for new crops to germinate. A reaction causing an almost equal and opposite reaction. This was interpreted as a lesson in reciprocal land care from the Ancestors in the dreaming above, and passed down the caretakers below, and consequently taught and practiced by following tribes. Backburning— a modern technique of agriculture employing the same technique, was only properly utilised by western society (Romans) a few thousand years ago. Whereas Aboriginal people (reportedly stemming from the Nyungar people) was being employed along the eastern coast of Australia as much as 120,000 years ago. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND YEARS.

The most common use of fire in Christianity (the most common religion in modern and ancient world) was [prooobably] to burn witches in the 1500’s… And if you forced an Aboriginal man and a Catholic man to meet in the 1500’s, the former would probably consider himself more advanced of the two.

witch_burningYour move Aboriginals!

1.1 The Pintupi Nine


Y’know that whole rhetoric about travelling in Western Australia, where you have to stock up on fuel and food to survive the long arid deserted roads. A trip reserved for hardcore 4WD enthusiasts with jeeps converted to tanks, with armour made of jerry cans and rugby post sized antennas bolted to every corner of the hood. Where the strict 21st century guideline to breaking down is ‘STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE IN THE SHADE AND WAIT FOR HELP’.

How surprised would you be to find out that a group of nine desert ninjas not only survived, but prospered in this environment for multiple generations, without a vehicle, electricity, or running water, and were still in better physical condition then Beef Jerky Johnny in the aforementioned 4WD travelling through the same central Australian desert.

Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 12.19.45 PM.png“yeh mate i’d be pretty fuckin shocked”

Well this is the exact narrative of The Pintupi Nine; A tribe of nine Aboriginal men, women and children who lived in perfect synergy with their land until by chance alone, discovering modern society as late as 1984. In short, the Pintupi tribe occupied a region now known as Lake Mackay, a vast glistening salt lake spanning 3,500 sq km (1,350 sq miles) between the Gibson and Great Sandy deserts of Western Australia. Here they lived as their ancestors of 60,000 years did; hunting and gathering in the region, establishing temporary and unobtrusive camps between waterholes which were as much as 40km apart. They would create moigeba (similar to damper) from black and brown seeds collected from the region, grinding them on stones showing thick recesses from the constant and cathartic friction of grinding stone. They would hunt Goanna, not simply for the meat alone, using the bone and even the blood as a natural oil barrier to the hot Alice Spring sun.

Occasionally the modern world would reveal itself in different forms, however to them, these encounters held no clue as to the ENTIRELY different culture only residing a few hundred km’s away. As a woman of the original nine, Yukultji, would recall, “The plane would fly over and we would hide in the tree. We would see the wings of the plane and we would get frightened. We thought it was the devil and so we kept hiding under the tree. When the plane had passed we would climb down from the tree.”

The Pintupi were some of the toughest and most skilled survivors on the planet, and by passing down their survival skills from one generation to the next, they managed to occupy this part of the world, uninterrupted, for tens of thousands of years.

In the interest of a word limit, you can read the rest of the fascinating story at the BBC link here > http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30500591

However the thing I found interesting was the manner in which the story was covered by two separate news agencies.

Herald Sun is Rupert Murdoch owned centre-right media asset, and had an entirely different spin on delivering the events opposed to the much more impartial (and ironically offshore) BBC corporation.

In their article (heraldsun) they frame the tribe as being impoverished, and burdened by “not knowing their age”. The title itself “lost tribe happy in modern world” implies that their journey to finding the modern was almost a pilgrimage to the shining light of modernity. They highlight weird exchanges such as ‘Don’t worry. He won’t hurt you — he’s just a white bloke’, almost to validate by extension that whole genocide thing we enacted on Aboriginal people 200 years ago. But wait, here’s the grossly fermented cherry on top

“What made the nomads give up their life in the desert?

“They knew they had no future,” Mr McMahon said.

141307.jpgOfficial response to Mr McMahon

It’s safe to assume then, that multiple generations and lineages of “well proportioned, strong, fit, healthy” people spanning back 60,000 years was indeed reaching a critical acute point of fatality in the next 10 years, because they couldn’t access the wonderful amenities of the modern world, like the ability to pay $34 daily for on street parking in an urban area.

The entire article is fucked. It’s an extension of the complete miseducation and understanding we have in current society Australia of what Aboriginal people once stood for and embodied in their incredibly intricate culture. Instead of a triumphant story detailing the unparalleled synergy the Aboriginal people had in one of THE most INHABITABLE environments on the globe, we get the gloriously pointless insights of Lutheran pastor Jim Inkamala, as he exclaims “He thought he would die from white fella diseases,”.

Hey Jim, I reckon there’s a pretty fucking good reason why they should be scared.

141304_v1“Right over there is where I discovered diabetes and property tax”

Blog Post Ten. Consolidating the research process.

The class exercises in mapping and brainstorming have been incredibly helpful in developing the draft of my design proposal. Feedback from both peers and my tutor allowed me to consolidate  the aims of the design and refine its execution. This has seen my final proposition move from a service design into a data visualisation which presents an achievable goal instead of a hypothetical one which was unrealistic.

Initially, I wanted to create a piece of service design which would allow a live feed of CCTV footage from inside the prison cells of incarcerated Aboriginal Australian’s to be released onto a public platform. This would create transparency and accountability within the Australian law enforcement and remove the sense of isolation and fear from those inside the prison cells.

Through feedback, I came to realise that the proposal sill needed to be achievable and realistic despite only being a proposition.  Knowing that there would never be any chance of the Australian Government giving approval to the freedom of this footage, I came to realise that I would need to throw this idea away and go down another of the paths explored within blog post eight.

Moving on from this idea, but still wanting to challenge the treatment of Aboriginal people in custody, pushed me to move my design into the emergent practice of data visualisation. In designing for this sector, I came up with the following design proposal.


Undecided at current date.


Data visualisation


The unethical aboriginal incarceration including deaths in custody.


The design would aim to instigate a change towards the perceptions of Aboriginal Australians. Subsequently encouraging viewers to put pressure on the government for better care and treatment as well as a fairer justice system to replace the existing one.


The design would be an emotive and powerful representation of Aboriginal people’s stories of unfair incarceration. Highlighting, in particular, the length of time a person was detained, the reason for this detainment, the age of the detainee and the end result of the situation. Whether this was death, mistreatment, or neglect at the hands of the Australian law or failure on behalf of the justice system in handling the case.


It would be my hope that the design would evoke emotion within viewers and  challenge their perceptions surrounding the treatment of Indigenous Australians within our justice system. It would also aim to tell people’s stories simply, making  them more than just a number on a page. Ultimately, the emotions and realisations brought forward by my work would enable people to put pressure on the government for policies to be changed and the law enforcement to be held accountable and become transparent, allowing aboriginal people to feel safe in their own communities and putting a stop to Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Blog Post Nine. Visualising the process.


The brainstorming map above shows a large range of ideas which address the issue of Aboriginal deaths, mistreatment and neglect under the supervision of Australian Law Enforcement. The results varied across the three emergent practices of data visualisation, generative design and service design and included many ideas ranging from fit-bit systems which monitored heart rates and health to social media campaigns and live video feeds of CCTV footage from within the prisons walls.

As I was the only person from my issue group to attend this class, I was placed into another issue group to complete this particular brainstorming task. This produced unique strengths and weaknesses to the group environment. As the rest of my group were somewhat unfamiliar with my issue, they were able to produce unexpected and fresh ideas as well as bringing a motivated approach to the task. The weakness of this group dynamic was that some of the members didn’t have a deep knowledge and understanding of my issue meaning that I had to use some of our time explaining my own research which took away from the natural flow of the exercise.

Blog Post Eight. Developing data into design.

 The last of the brainstorming sessions seemed as though it was going to be the least productive for me due to being the only one in the group looking at the issue of Aboriginal Rights. I brainstormed my problem statement with 3 other students who were looking at the issue of Data Surveillance and asked for their ideas and opinions surrounding my issue. The ability to present my issue to a group of people who were fresh to the concepts allowed a variety of engaging and unique ideas to be formed. Collaborating with students who hadn’t been absorbed in the topic for weeks made the activity more engaging and allowed us to break beyond ideas which had been over-used and exhausted. The brainstorming session resulted in an abundance of ideas circulating around the issue of Aboriginal deaths and torture in custody and began to look at how design could be used to address this issue. Five ideas which I have pulled out from this session are as follows;

1- A generative design system which stands as a simple website visualising a heartbeat and how this pulse would change in relation to reports of and Aboriginal person being arrested. The system would aim to visualise the fear and unknown of being picked up by law enforcement and the lack of safety in this space.

2 – A data visualisation which aims to present the ridiculous and absurd stories which are the basis for a significant proportion Aboriginal arrests. The design would aim to show how different the treatment is in comparison to non-aboriginal people and highlight the ridiculousness of these arrests.

3 – A service design which aims to give accountability to law enforcement. This would allow Aboriginal people to tag themselves or someone they know at the point of being arrested, and give them the ability to get in contact with lawyers and the public when they feel unsafe or mistreated.

4 – A data visualisation highlighting the difference between aboriginal and non-aboriginal arrests and how many of these result in torture, mistreatment & death in comparison to the reasons for arrest. It would aim to simply show the large difference between the two people groups and allow users to call for change to this.

5 – A generative design system which aims to remove the red tape and closed door aspect of the issue. The system would allow Aboriginal people to release a live video and audio feed to a public platform when they feel threatened and unsafe. The feed would alert lawyers and social workers outside of the law enforcement arena to be able to intervene and address the issue themselves.


My current proposal has been developed from the 2nd idea explained above.The design would be a data visualisation which would explore the length of time that an Aboriginal person was arrested for in relation to the reason for their arrest. Depending on the results of data found, this would hopefully include ages and outcomes of the arrest aiming to also highlight the young children as well as the deaths in custody aspects which highly contribute to this issue. The data visualisation will intend to be an emotive and powerful representation of people’s stories simplified into an easy to navigate and understand design with a purpose to evoke change and accountability within the justice system. To achieve this, a large collection of data will need to be collected which would have to include the crime for which an Aboriginal person was arrested, the length of time for which they were held and the result which came from the arrest (whether this be death, mistreatment, neglect or a lack of justice when it comes to those responsible for these human rights violations). If this information were able to be sourced, I feel that I would be enabled to create a strong data visualisation design which could challenge viewers to reconsider the treatment of Aboriginal people in within our government’s law enforcement system.

Blog Post Seven. Connecting issues, ideas and stakeholders.

Initially, it seemed as though brainstorming with only two people in regards to such a big issue would result in a limited amount of content and ideas. Despite this setback, my partner and I managed to break through many barriers to create a wide-reaching web across multiple actors, issues, emotions and ideas. As we sprawled illegible writing across a sheet of butcher’s paper, we been to make links, connections and boundaries across all these ideas and create groups which shared similar ideas and values. Diving so deeply into this process allowed us to push past mental boundaries and generate a large bank of ideas which could later translate into more creative and unique projects.

As I was more interested in the social and political sides of our issue, my partner was more focused on the cultural and the artistic aspects, which allowed me to learn and further develop my ideas into these categories. I learned more about cosmology and the Dreamtime as well as widening my bank of well-known & out-spoken Indigenous Australians. Without the brainstorming workshop, I wouldn’t have thought to access and explore these ideas which contribute so largely to the issue of Aboriginal Rights within current day Australians. 





Series of images used to document the issue mapping exercise.

Another aspect to this brainstorming session which was quite unique to us was the ability to join with another group who weren’t involved in our issue. While everyone else was paired with people within their own issues, we were able to branch out beyond this and speak to people who were less involved and who could give us a fresh outlook on our ideas and issues. Also receiving feedback from the whole class group on which of our main stakeholders stood out most was another really useful piece of feedback. This information allowed us to explore which ideas and names were familiar & unfamiliar to uninvolved participants which led to a better understanding of our audiences and what kinds of language and ideas we could draw upon in future to either better educate or build upon knowledge when designing project concepts and ideas.

After partaking in this issue mapping exercise and later reading through ‘Issue Mapping for an Ageing Europe’ I was able to further realise the importance of thoroughly mapping out thoughts and ideas and how greatly this can positively impact the work process and the final outcome. Taking ideas from Bruno Latour, Ulrich Beck and Jeremy Crampton and re-affirming the notion that ‘that neither the theory, nor the method, nor the tool alone or two in tandem comprise good mapping practice.’ (1)


Rogers, R, Sánchez-Querubín, N & Kil, A. 2015,‘Issue Mapping for an Aging Europe.’ Amsterdam University Press, pp.14

Blog Post Six. Analysing Aboriginal solidarity online.

The issue of police brutality against the First Nations people in this country is an issue which is so often ignored and justice for the victims is rarely served. After reading an article earlier in the week through New Matilda (https://newmatilda.com/2016/08/31/the-kalgoorlie-uprising-a-rational-response-to-another-black-death/) entitled “White Man’s Manslaughter. Black Man’s Murder. White Man’s Riot. Black Man’s Uprising.” I was strongly moved and decided to use this as my main issue to research further into this week.

As a result of my personal values and interests, I am aware of the online community that exists for Aboriginal Rights and activism. Thanks to this I was able to pull out some important words and phrases which would enable a better analysis of this online discussion. This knowledge of groups like the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance as well as movements like ‘BLM Australia’ and hashtags like #blackdeathsincustody were great foundations in searching through twitter to analyse the types of voices that contribute to these movements.

I decided to base my online research through twitter as it enabled me to search specifically through all different people groups and analyse what’s being said using these very specific terms. It was easy for me to cull unrelated posts as well as dive into the groups of people who join together around these ideas through the use of such definitive terms. Users can interact with one another through the use of these terms and through the communal following of activist pages and discussions. Following the links between pages, users, tags and shares allowed me to gain a better understanding of how Aboriginal people and activists join together and comfort one another in their struggles against police brutality and aboriginal deaths in custody.

The following flow chart shows the process I went through when looking at these community groups and the way they interact with one another.

flow chart webscrape.jpg

After analysing this specific community, it was clear to me through their tone of voice and character that they are a strong, brave and supportive. The group rallies together against stereotyping, racism and speaks out against mistreatment of their own people.

As a way to further research this group, I tailored the twitter advanced search tool to include a variety of terms related to the issue and combine them to look at the types of people and groups who were using this kind of language. Included below are some of these combinations

The following are screen captures of some of the results I came across through the use of the advanced search tool.

Once I started this form of social media analysis, it was easy to come up with new search terms by looking at similar phrases that were used by participates of the discussion which allowed me to get new tweets which added to my collection of data. This, in turn allowed me to reimagine the system I was using and change it to generate more interesting results.

Looking forward, It can be seen how this collection of data could be used to generate a politically and socially motivated infographic to highlight the amount of Aboriginal people who were killed in custody or at the hand of our police force and how often this goes ignored by the government with justice never being served.

Blog Post Five. Undertaking Ethnography.

As an ethnographic research task I conducted a simple interview and designed a probe for another student to interact with. The interview asked a series of fairly simple questions which are outlined below.

  • What were you taught in school about the history of white Australia?
  • What are some words that come to mind when thinking about Aboriginal Australians?
  • What are some things we could do to change how Indigenous people are viewed in our country?
  • Do you feel Aboriginal people are given a fair representation in the media?
  • Do you feel we have done enough to fix the problems we caused when we invaded 200 yrs ago?
  • What’s your opinion of Australia Day?
  • Did you see the recent 4 corners episode on Don Dale? if so what was your response?
  • Do you feel there is anything Aboriginal people should do to change the way they are treated?
  • Have you heard much about the Black Deaths in Custody movement in Australia?
  • What relevance do you think the Black Lives Matter movement has in Australia ?
  • Are there some Aboriginal people you look up to or see as a heroic figure?
  • How do you think we could better facilitate a relationship between new migrants and the First Nations people?
  • Do you think many new migrants are knowledgeable about how Australia was colonised?
  • Do you think refugees and asylum seekers feel welcomed when they migrate to Australia?

I aimed to keep the questions fairly straight forward so that I could get honest answers which would lead to a better understanding of people’s thought processes regrading Aboriginal rights as opposed to intimidating them with loaded questions or complicated terms.  I feel that as a result of this, combined with an attempt to make the ‘interview’ as relaxed and conversational as possible gave me the most honest and natural answers. I didn’t want the person I was interviewing to feel intimidated by the difference in knowledge or experience between us and felt that I was fairly successful in achieving this.

As a follow on from this interview, I asked my interviewee to interact with a probe. Again this was to get a natural response using a more unconventional technique as opposed to a structured and intimidating form of research.

For my probe I asked this student to imagine that we lived in a society where Aboriginal Australians controlled the immigration sector of the government and were able to deal with the issue of Asylum Seekers. I was very pleased with the amount of effort that I received as a reply. The student replied as follows;

“Realistically, the Australian Government suffices the agenda of a higher authority that remains ambiguous to civilisation. In essence, Ministers of a Government are basically a manifestation for “their” public relations and with that being said, the policies of Immigration cannot be completely overruled if Aboriginal Australians were to congregate the department. I believe politics is a total delusion and we are in a matrix whereby our basic needs and rights are overlooked, but instead being capitalised on.
Immigration to Australia is defined to be limited and complex due to “population control” yet encouraged to improve “globalisation”. Thus, the perspective of immigration is more subjected to the needs of Western capitalisation other than the keepsake of these refugees. However, I feel that the department would have more empathy and protection towards asylum seekers, as both have and are still being marginalised. Though with the current regime being fuelled off xenophobia and fear (which reflects upon Anglo-Celtic supremacy), it is important the Department promote positive connotations for a holistic acceptance. Potentially, if the arduous process of refugee status validation were to be abolished, it opens the opportunities for immediate national relations and eradicates the violation of human rights following the government’s detention solution. It allows the incapacitated to live with capacity and purpose, and grow unanimously as light beings.”

The answer gave me great insight into how this scenario might actually play out and was quite different to how I would have imagined it myself. 

Most of the insights I received from this task can described in the 5 main descriptions below.

ONE – We’re never taught.

One of the biggest things I came to realise when interviewing was that we just aren’t properly educated on the history or cultural significance of the First Nations people to our country. For most, it’s barely mentioned at school, and if it is it’s often sugar-coated to keep to curriculum. The stories taught often glorify european ‘discovers’ and never mention the resistance or struggle of Aboriginal Australians.

TWO – Finding truthful resources is hard.

Secondly I came to find that many people our age haven’t got easy access to proper historical facts when it comes to our history. Many find it hard to find things they can trust due to controversy and twisted truths from our own government.

THREE – We have to investigate ourselves.

My third insight is really a product of the two mentioned above. If we want to know what happened 200 years ago, we have to be motivated enough to research it ourselves. Considering the lack of time and interest that I can only assume so many people my own age have it’s hard to imagine how many people would actively go out and do this as opposed to take on popular opinion as it is presented to them of their news feeds as the truth. When taking this realisation from people my own age with similar educational background and comparing it to people groups like new migrants or lower socio-economic groups, the results become a bit more frightening.

FOUR – If you’re not in the circle, you don’t see it.

Due to my own friendship circles, interests and research methods I realise that I might be a bit more aware of ideas and movements within the Aboriginal Rights issue. But when I move outside of this ‘bubble’ it becomes quite obvious that while this is quite easily accessible to me, it most definitely isn’t to others on the outside. Movements like Black Lives Matter Australia, Black Deaths in Custody and Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance are groups which I ignorantly thought were becoming more and more popular, yet after my ethnographic research I’ve come to realise that this simply isn’t the case.

FIVE – People want to see it fixed, they just don’t know how to do it.

My final realisation is that people my own age with a similar educational level want to help. They don’t want to see the injustices and atrocities which are occurring to the First Nations people under our own government. But they just have no idea what to do to help, they don’t want to tired on toes or offend people, or be the subject of ridicule and abuse themselves so they just steer clear. It really made me realise that people need clear directions about whats appropriate, what’s inappropriate, and what simple things they can do to help and become more aware of what’s being done to aboriginal people, on behalf of non-aboriginal people.

Blog Post Three: B. Emotionally charged images.

Use caution viewing these images, as it may contain images or voices of dead persons.


Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Indigenousrights.net

Image One.

The first image was taken at the creation of the aboriginal tent embassy in 1972. It signifies defiance and self-determination towards the government which had failed them countlessly before this. As police attempted to destroy it, it only grew stronger and caused public outrage. The protest gained attention nationally as it told the story of a forgotten and neglected people. They suggested through the embassy that they were being treated as foreigners and felt a sense of alienation in their own land.  They had been removed from their own land and been left with poverty and a sense impermanence.

Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Wikicommons

Image Two.

This second image shows the tent embassy as it still stands today, despite much controversy and demand for it’s removal, even being fire bombed on occasion. It is a safe, community-focused area which still holds a permanent residence. On the 26th of January each year, the community opens up and welcomes anyone to join in grieving, remembrance, solidarity and protest over the invasion and occupation of their land. It remains to be seen as a strong symbol of the determination of the First Nations people, visually represented by the word ‘sovereignty’ being written in large letters on the land.

Wave Hill station handover. ABC

Image Three.

Going back in time again we look at the famous image of Gough Whitlam passing a handful of rich red earth to Vincent Lingiari. A huge step forward for Aboriginal rights in 1975. The image depicts the moment where Aboriginal People in the Daguragu country were given their land back. Following this moment Vincent spoke to his own people in his own language and ended by saying to Whitlam “We are all right now. We all friendly. We are mates.”

TJ Hickey. AltMedia.

Image Four.

Moving forward almost 30 years, one would be forgiven for thinking that things would have greatly improved since the policy changes for Aboriginal rights. But the death of Tj Hickey suggests that we may have only gone backwards in our attempt to reconcile our wrong-doings 200 years ago. Shown above is the face of a 17 yr old boy who was impaled on a 2.5m fence in Waterloo and died among friends and family shortly after. The family strongly dispute the claims that police officers had nothing to do with Tj’s death, citing witnesses who say the police car clipped the child bike. The attempts to re-open the case have been refused and protests over the child’s death have caused riots across Redfern.

Dylan Voller. Australia’s Shame. Four Corners

Image Five.

The emotions and feelings towards Hickey’s death 12 years ago seem to come rushing back once hearing about the severe injustice uncovered by Four Corners in their recent episode titled ‘Australia’s Shame’. Again we see extreme abuse of young indigenous children at the hand of the Australian Government covered up by red tape and bureaucracy. Again we are left wondering if we as non-indigenous Australians are left to be accountable for any of our actions. We are left wondering how long this has been going on for behind closed doors and blind eyes. The image above is a shot taken from CCTV footage obtained by the Four Corners producers. It is truly horrific and confronting to watch, yet it’s a call for direct action and immediate change.

Wiradjuri woman Rebecca Maher, 36. The Guardian.

Image Six.

It took years of hard and extremely dedicated work for the Four Corners team to collate the evidence shown in their ‘Australia’s Shame’ episode. It makes you think about how many situations could be happening behind the guard of the Australian Police Force and Government. The times where there is no CCTV, or when there’s no way for what’s being recorded on that to be released or accessed by journalists or members of the public. An example that comes to mind is the recent death of Indigenous woman, Rebecca Maher. She was not notified to the Custody Notification Service. The organisation states that if they had been notified, “there may have been a different outcome”. The story is similar to many others including the death of Maureen Mandijarra, who laid “unmoving in a police cell for at least six hours before police realised she was dead.”

Bill Leeks Cartoon, The Australian

Image Seven.

Following the uncovering of the atrocities at the Don Dale Detention Centre, something truly astonishing was published by The Australian. A cartoon drawn by Bill Leeks was released and controversy followed. The newspaper stood by the cartoon as other media outlets, such as The Guardian spoke against it. There isn’t much to say about this image other than to look on it in dis-belief, especially in light of the discoveries made only a few days earlier.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.09.40 am
#indigenousdads. ABC

Image Eight.

Thankfully, some good came from the cartoon mentioned above. It sparked a huge movement categorised by the hashtag #indigenousdads. This was a truly incredible reply to the ignorant and misleading image that The Australian decided they would portray Aboriginal fathers to be. Countless Indigenous fathers posted photos with themselves and their children across social media in an attempt to break the ridiculous stereotype that they neglect their children. The movement received much attention and was reported on by the ABC, SBS, SMH and more. The image shown here is just one of many which came together to speak for themselves and the way they raise their families.

#handsoffaboriginalkids protest, The Age

Image Nine.

Another good thing to come out of the Don Dale findings was the community-based solidarity through protests across the nation. The image above shows a group of women joining together to lock themselves in a cage to create direct action in a protest against the mistreatment of Aboriginal children in detention centres. As members of the Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance, they took a stand against this extreme injustice. One woman who chained herself by the neck for 8 hrs before being interviewed (and much more after) stated that she wanted people to know what it was like for the children who were being held in the centres. She stated that she and the others would remain there until their demands were met.

Jenny Munro Mural. Corner of Harbour and Goulburn Street, Sydney.

Image Ten.

To leave this post on a much happier note is an image of an incredible Aboriginal activist and elder, Jenny Munro. Having the pleasure of meeting her myself I can honestly say that the recent mural of her on the corner of Harbour and Goulburn street is a truly wonderful and joyful sight. Her passion, determination and reflection were all perfectly captured in the mural painted by Adnate who stated “We had to choose someone who was quite significant and people who have made a big difference to Sydney. I was just blown away by all the incredible achievements she’s done.”

Image References:

Image One – State Library of New South Wales, 1972, Australia Day: Michael Anderson, Billie Craigie, Bert Williams and Tony Coorey, Indigenous Rights, viewed 22nd August 2016, <http://indigenousrights.net.au/__data/assets/image/0011/384338/i796_m.jpg>.

Image Two – Wikicommons, 2015, Sovereignty sign at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra, Australia,  Wikipedia, viewed 22nd August 2016, <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/78/Aboriginal_Tent_Embassy%2C_Canberra_006.JPG>.

Image Three – AGNSW, 1975, Wave Hill station handover,  ABC, viewed 22nd August 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-21/mervyn-bishop/5829404>.

Image Four – Unknown, N.d, Tj Hickey, AltMedia, viewed 22nd August 2016, <http://www.altmedia.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/hickeyweb-512×312.jpg>.

Image Five – Australia’s Shame 2016, Documentary, Four Corners.

Image Six – Aboriginal Legal Service of NSW, N.d, Wiradjuri woman Rebecca Maher, 36, The Guardian, viewed 22nd August 2016, <https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/16/indigenous-woman-died-in-police-custody-after-notification-service-not-used>.

Image Seven – Leek, B. 2016, The crucial role of fathers, ABC, viewed 22nd August 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-04/scullion-condemns-‘racist’-cartoon-in-the-australian/7692234>.

Image Eight – Bond, C. 2016, Her dad makes her feel awesome, ABC, viewed 22nd August 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-06/indigenous-dads-counter-bill-leak-cartoon-with-stories/7697668>.

Image Nine – ‘Ratbabbo’. 2016, #handsoffaboriginalkids, The Age, viewed 22nd August 2016, <http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/protest-against-abuse-of-children-in-detention-shuts-down-melbourne-intersection-20160730-gqhfxr.html>.

Image Ten – Hoh, A. 2016, A portrait of Jenny Munro, founder of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Redfern, ABC, viewed 22nd August 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-24/giant-mural-of-aboriginal-elder-jenny-munro-in-sydney-cbd/7540400>.

Blog Post Three: A. Mapping Stakeholders.

stakeholder map.jpg

The map shown above explores the relationships between a wide variety of stakeholders within the Aboriginal rights issue. All stakeholders are broken into three separate groups, aboriginal, non-aboriginal and non-human. Although placed in these segregated groups, there are many links across and differences between them. The map aims to visualise these relationships and show how various stakeholders could affect one another, as well as the central issues that they all play a part in.

Blog Post Four. Onformative balances the digital and the analogue with their generative design.

“Guided by an emotional approach, we constantly search for new forms of creative expression. Through an experimental practice we create meaningful works to challenge the boundaries between art, design and technology.”

Julia Laub and Cedric Kiefer founded ‘Onformative’ in 2010 and have created a team who collaboratively bounce off of observations in their surroundings and aim to dive into the possibilities which lie between analog and digital fields. The diverse team is connected through a fascination with the creative process as well as the unknown possibilities of new design. They are located in Friedrichshain, Berlin and view this as a reflection of the flexible nature of their work and an accessibility to facilitating new projects and developing new concepts. The studio is divided into two main sections, the first being the in-house workshop which enables quick prototypes to be created as well as creating an encouraging, collaborative workspace for the team and the second being a rooftop terrace with city views which is often used as a meeting place for friends and collaborators.

They have created a multitude of self-initiated and collaborative works including interactive media installations, generative design, dynamic visuals and data-driven narratives. One of their more spectacular works entitled looks at complex generative design and was created in 2014. Entitled ‘Pathfinder’, “the project is a generative approach for the conceptual choreographic research of body movements. Through a process of guidance, the work becomes a medium of communication and explores the boundaries between inspiration and improvisation.” (Onformative 2014)


Above: Promotional video for Pathfinder.

The design was created to encourage dancers to explore physical language and create various expressions and configurations and acts as a tool which creates visual inspirations for the conceptual study of movement. The geometric shape drawing encourages the participant to move in unconventional ways and in turn create new perspectives and ideas. 
“Many performers imagine lines, patterns or abstract processes in order to improvise physical interpretations. »Pathfinder« is intended to be a part of this process, by continuously generating geometries. With a progressively transforming visual language, it allows the dancer to generate limitless embodiments.” (Onformative 2014)

The project works by breaking down tracked movements into a polygon and then calculates the most logical series of movements to transform one shape into the next, including moving between line and plane.


Above: User interacts with Pathfinder.


Onformative 2014, Pathfinder, Berlin, viewed 22 August 2016, <http://onformative.com/work/pathfinder>. (Quotes)

Onformative. 2014, Pathfinder, Onformative, viewed 22 August 2016,<http://onformative.com/work/pathfinder&gt;. (Images)

Pathfinder, promotional video, Onformative, Vimeo, Berlin. (Video)