Museums and the Web 1999

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Published: March 1999.


Digitalizing Ancient Cultures for Future Generations

Brett Leavy , QANTM CMC, Australia

Session: Community and Content

Aboriginal people cannot look forlornly to a past that cannot rekindle. Old traditional techniques and cultural practices cannot be pursued as they once were for obvious reasons. Many Aboriginal people find great difficulty making practical relevance of the present social, economic and political order. Some Aboriginal people simply fail to cope in today's society, where culture has become a tradable commodity. Some Aboriginal people have adapted as they have in the past by using their culture to survive. Economic survival has demanded that ancient culture must use its intrinsic value to allow the producer to earn the living to survive. This was not the intention in the past, however it has become a necessity in our present society.

Digitalizing Aboriginal culture through the technology of Multimedia is one possible way to preserve the past for future generations. Interactive multimedia is a new technology for an ancient culture. Every day new multimedia techniques are opening a way recording the oral histories of aboriginal clans across Australia. New and emerging software that harnesses the power of computer hardware is becoming the new tool for managing the stories and custodial knowledge. This paper presents a variety of multimedia techniques for document one such site that is significant to the Kooma Clan of SouthWest Queensland. Multimedia, its audio-visual effects, present a real hope and possible avenue for protecting and preserving what is arguably, the oldest living culture in the World.

Through digitally recording artifacts, stories, dreamtime fables, art and carving and inscriptions on rock walls, we have a way to protect the knowledge contained within these recordings. Multimedia also presents an opportunity for those that follow in the footsteps of their ancestors, including the young and uninitiated generation, to experience and be enlightened by the cultural depth and complexity of their Aboriginal heritage. Through a combination of archaic knowledge systems and traditional practices with modern digital recording means, Aboriginal people can present as clear a perception as possible that allows others to empathize with aboriginal culture and our spiritual beliefs. This will be the legacy of Interactive Multimedia.