The science of digital storytelling

For the past 18 months, young people in Wagga Wagga and Wilcannia have been getting hands on with science, art and technology by participating in a project run by dLux media arts.

The dLab National Project is a workshop series that enables participants to develop their own creative language using sound recording, animation, video and photography.

In Wilcannia, dLab has been working with the Wilcannia Central School and Wings Youth Centre to deliver multimedia workshops at which students learn about the many scientific processes associated with audiovisual technologies, including chemistry and physics. They also discover aspects of environmental science.

Workshop facilitator Yenny Huber said that participants not only learn to use contemporary digital processes, but also gain an understanding of their analogue and scientific beginnings.

“When we do photography, for example, we are covering a range of solar printing methods, including cyanotype and lumen printing,” she said. “By using old processes, students learn about the scientific beginnings of photography.”

“They also engage with the chemistry of the processes and the physics of light,” she added.

One project aims to create a digital map of Wilcannia. Students choose places that are of personal importance and record a wide range of relevant material, focusing especially on photographic documentation and audio story recording. They then edit and upload the material to a digital tour app that is accessible through any app store.

The project mixes us local history with knowledge sharing across generations.

“While the project currently focuses on the kids’ stories, in future they will integrate further knowledge and stories from local elders and other community sources,” said Yenny.

Participants also collect found objects from the local environment and these are used as the foundation for a unique solar print artwork, becoming botanical imprints of the local environment.

In Wagga Wagga, dLab has partnered with Wagga City Council, Eastern Riverina Arts, Centacare, Mount Austin High School and Riverina Community College. Project outcomes have been showcased in community events including National Science Week 2013 and the Fusion13 cultural festival, with students’ work projected onto the walls of the Civic Centre.

As in Wilcannia, for the first 12 months, Wagga Wagga students were introduced to science and technology basics. They then moved on audiovisual techniques and used these skills to tell stories and introduce themselves to the community.

“This project has culminated in an audiovisual exhibition that features locally produced music, interviews and a screen-based visual showcase,” said Yenny.

The Youth of Wagga Wagga is now on show at the Ashmont Artspace in the Ashmont Shopping Centre until the end of November.

Huber said that overall, the dLab National Project has introduced students to new ways of thinking about science and technology.

“We had a real ‘wow’ moment when we turned the whole room into a camera obscura and projected what we could see outside onto the walls and roof inside the room,” she said.

“As much as the students enjoy learning about the science, the real power in this program is how they use technology to express themselves by creating art and audio visual content.”

The dLab National Program received project funding from Inspiring Australia, the national strategy for engagement with the sciences.