Wednesday, 18 May 2022
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Phone and Spear: A Yuta Anthropology has recently won an open access award for the arts collective led by Charles Darwin University (CDU) researchers. Image: Miyarrka Media
Phone and Spear: A Yuta Anthropology has recently won an open access award for the arts collective led by Charles Darwin University (CDU) researchers. Image: Miyarrka Media

Unique creative collaboration wins international open access award

Miyarrka Media, an arts collective led by two researchers at Charles Darwin University (CDU), has won an international open access publishing award for its book Phone and Spear: A Yuta Anthropology.

Yuta is the Yolngu word for new.  Phone and Spear is an online publication that explores the ways that mobile phones have enabled Firsts Nations’ people to express themselves through the creative remix and collaging of images of kin and country.

CDU Senior Research Fellow and Miyarrka Media co-founder Paul Gurrumuruwy Wunungmurra said that he felt extremely proud of the award. He appreciated its recognition of First Nations culture as a vital contemporary force.

“My vision is to share Yolngu life with the world. When we first got our phones in their hands and pockets, young people and old people, everyone got interested,” Mr Wunungmurra said.

“We started recording their lives through the phone. Because we wanted to keep all their own footage on their own phone. Then the kids started to make new kinds of images.

“Now we can share our lives with the world through own images, showing our humour, our imaginations, and our values. And people love it, Yolngu and Balanda.”

CDU Professor of Digital Humanities at the College of Indigenous Futures Education and the Arts, and co-author of Phone and Spear, Jennifer Deger said the award acknowledged the power of creative and collaborative research methods to investigate complex social issues.

“Our digital book is result of a 10-year research project exploring the ways that mobile phones have transformed everyday life in Arnhem Land and beyond,” Professor Deger said.

“The young people use the phone to express their cultural identity through collages, ringtones and videos.

“It allows the young people to express their form of creative and cultural connection while not revealing sacred knowledge.

“The judges pointed out that this makes it a unique open access project.  It was open in its expression, but also considered the cultural sensitivities of the subject.”

The 2021 Open Publishing Awards acknowledges the projects that help to bring stories of diversity into the open.

Professor Deger said the personal subjects the artists used mean they could connect with a broad audience.

“Everyone has a family.  You start making that connection then you use a digital remix of images and sounds to develop a great understanding of different sensibilities across cultures,” she said.

“It’s all about exploring that sameness and then the differences.”

Mr Wunungmurra said the young people are clever with their use of mobile phones.

“It’s important they use them the right way, to support their family and make them happy. That’s what we are showing in our book,” Mr Wunungmurra said.