(Melbourne, Australia) Last week I presented at the Screening Melbourne Symposium, my paper entitled, Screen Dance: Cultural mirroring through movement and ambience was an attempt to make a connection between the ancient landscape and the flow of digital media objects in the contemporary urban space through text, photography and voice. The Symposium itself was a fascinating event covering film, television, gaming, historical archiving and restoration, film festivals, experimental video, mobile and street projection. It was a wonderfully collegial event spread over three days and coordinated by the Melbourne Screen Studies Group a collective from Deakin, RMIT, Swinburne, Monash, La Trobe and the University of Melbourne.
Many thanks must go out to the symposium team, Tessa Dwyer, Glen Donnar, Sean Redmond, Toija Cinque, Adrian Danks, and Liam Burke, who pulled this all together right on the cusp of the academic year – no mean feat!
Cultural mirroring through movement and ambience
Part visual essay part performance text, Screen Dance, will explore the intervention of the screen – the mobile screen / the televised event / the corner store TV / the mobile app – in the public life of the city.
Yarra Yarra, a Kulin nation meeting place pre-contact, now the site of this metropolis called Melbourne, a grid overlaid on the landscape, is a vertical convergence of glass and steel and glittering light. As a newbie, from the West but mostly from the North, to explore the meandering grid of this urban space is to conduct the rather colonial act of mapping: through a screen. Marking the screen, meeting via the screen and ultimately documenting via the screen. The screen is a now a feature of the cityscape – public, private, commercial. Screens punch holes in the night. Life accompanied by screens, life lived through screens.
A merry dance is underway.
Through the rain pelted window the glow of the television calls to arms the excited pack – it’s game time! The pearls of contrasting colour speak to history, to territory and to the drama of an evolving mythology brokered by the screen.
There’s a stir in the playground tonight, just behind the monkey bars, beneath the crisp clear sky tilted faces glow with electric blue luminescence as screens drift and sway in eerie silence. This is not your typical social gathering this is an augmented space. The battle for the King of the Hill is a subdued affair albeit facilitated by a poke, a swipe and a deft flick.
They warned me about the 86, the Smith Street trundler has a history they said; well yes, it is certainly a lively affair especially on the fringes of daylight. Yet it is also a carriage of traveling screens of football highlights, of sexting, of LOLs, of earthquakes, of suicide bombings, of bleaching coral, of gum trees, of craft beer recipes and of GIF cats.
This is their story as much as it is mine. This city / this screen / this blue planet.