Accepted Paper:

Keeping culture in the digital age  
Alicia Jamieson

Paper short abstract:

The digital age has not only brought with it technology to preserve historical records, but also to allow a conversation with the past, reuniting the generations and restoring the agency of the performer to keep their culture alive.

Paper long abstract:

The voices of elders, hidden away in locked store rooms called archives hold more than rich and painful histories, connecting generations of peoples and land. Substance and essence is preserved in digital code and words on paper just as song, oral story, dance and design encode cultural knowledge to be passed on through the generations. Through performance this becomes a living, dynamic cultural archive re-created by each performer.

If an archive is a place to store knowledge, so it is available to pass down through the generations, what happens when the record keeper and researcher take the place of the performer, telling the story of other peoples lives and histories. By steering and shaping the use of recordings, documents and photographs, identities are forged and lost in an effort to grapple with colonial histories and reclaim what Australians now call Native Title.

Ink eventually fades, and tapes begin to crackle, and the words of the past are gradually erased. The record keeper and researcher join the dots, interpret and translate and a story is told. Meaning is lost but does the outcome justify the means?

The digital age has not only brought with it technology to preserve historical records, but also to allow a conversation with the past, reuniting the generations and restoring the agency of the performer to keep their culture alive.

Panel P18
Bringing the past to life: narratives, practices and spaces of memory-making