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Animating Yanyuwa narratives: capturing intangible heritage with 3D animation for the purpose of cultural preservation and the cross-generational transfer of knowledge
thesisposted on 15.02.2017, 23:33 by McKee, Brent
Like many Indigenous communities around Australia, the Yanyuwa people of the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria struggle with the looming reality of language and cultural extinction. The past three decades have seen the number of fluent speakers of the Yanyuwa language drop from over two hundred to just six. With the loss of language comes loss of cultural identity and for this reason senior Yanyuwa elders are looking at alternative ways to engage and encourage younger generations of Yanyuwa to partake in the preservation of their own cultural heritage. This research project looks at translating the oral traditions of Dreaming narratives and Songlines distinctive to the Yanyuwa community into 3D animations as a means of preserving this intangible form of cultural heritage and for the purpose of crossgenerational transfer of knowledge. 3D animation technology offers the ability to preserve the Yanyuwa language orally while accurately visualising sacred 'country' and representing the Law that is held within Dreamings and Songlines in a respectful way; taking into account essential cultural considerations encapsulated in Indigenous Law, while remaining as free of Western convention and interpretation as possible. Through investigative research this exegesis examines how direct engagement and collaboration with the Yanyuwa community was imperative to understanding the complexity of community politics and the sacred nature of the intangible oral traditions of Dreamings and Songlines. Firsthand expedition and immersion into Yanyuwa country directly influenced my understanding of Yanyuwa landscapes and is recorded as part of the exegesis document. These experiences directly influenced the studio practice involved in producing two complete animations of Yanyuwa Dreamings - 'The Sea Turtle and the Osprey' and 'The Groper'. Through presenting an overview of studio process - spanning pre-production to post-production, and involving a wide-range of animation techniques including lipsyncing, composition and sound design- the studio research will encapsulate the important part that the medium of 3D animation can play in efforts to preserve, represent and communicate intangible forms of indigenous Australian cultural heritage.