Community Culture Education

Virtual Songlines – Transforming Cultural Heritage Knowledge into Immersive and Interactive Simulations Enabling Community Empowerment, Land Management and Agency


ROOM 107 - CULTURE & INDUSTRY November 1, 2016 12:10 PM - 1:05 PM

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Brett Leavy

Virtual Songlines is proposed as an innovative and unique solution employing virtual reality and 3D design methodologies that strip away contemporary Australian urban landscapes, creating a portal into an immersive and interactive environments that authentically represents pre-contact cultural heritage enriched spaces.

Using the latest game design engines and enhancing their features, Brett Leavy and his team collaborate with historians, archaeologists, anthropologists and First Nations communities to produce Virtual Songlines, a suite of authentic virtual worlds constructed from cultural heritage knowledge, historical record, big data and archaeological reports.

Each interactive, animated and dynamic virtual heritage experience showcases how cultural heritage sites might have been interpreted as well as how they may have appeared pre‐contact and to allow users to virtually interact with that environment and its people as if they were there actually there hundreds of years ago.

Utilizing virtual heritage software and hardware technologies as an immersive teaching and learning tool, Virtual Songlines fuses First Nations culture, language and knowledge alongside western knowledge to showcase findings from archaeological reports and peer reviews, and traditional knowledge of cultural sites and environs.

Virtual Songlines seeks to portray Western scientific knowledge using culturally appropriate methodologies that employs processes and procedures which engage both youth and Elders. Virtual Songlines also allows for the ongoing continuity of traditional knowledge, through engaging youth via serious gameplay.

Those Aboriginal Elders who are no longer physically capable of undertaking cultural heritage surveys on foot and in country, can virtually walk, run, sprint, swim and even fly through areas covered during cultural heritage surveys. Archaeological results and cultural heritage sites can be accurately mapped, 3D modelled and reconstructed in a virtual heritage world.

Each interactive virtual reality and multimedia space enables important cultural heritage elements to be highlighted, such as the presentation of intangible heritage values in local language, which includes material culture and traditional ecological knowledge and land management techniques. Artefacts held in museums along with the usual keeping places can be represented as authentic 3D models and oral histories for each applied in order to create an accurate rendition of each’s artistic and cultural heritage significance for the local Aboriginal people of an area.

Furthermore, virtual heritage environments have the ability to represent First Nation’s people rights to access sites and to display the significance and importance of each site or objects protection, as well as their management as legacy cultural heritage places and landscapes.