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Index

Content Types

Artist Profiles (2)

Audio (4)

Audio Papers (4)

Editorial (1)

Essays (5)

Interviews (6)

Scores (5)

Series (1)

Text Poems (5)

Contributors (57)

  • Allanah Stewart
  • Allanah Stewart is an artist from Aotearoa/New Zealand, currently living in Melbourne, Australia. As well as her work in various experimental music projects, she is the presenter of a monthly podcast radio programme called Enquiring Minds, hosted by Noods radio, which explores old and new, lesser known and well known sounds that loosely fit under the banner of experimental music.

  • Jen Callaway
  • Jen Callaway is a Melbourne musician, sound and performance artist, photographer, and community services worker raised in various parts of Tasmania. Current projects include bands Is There a Hotline?, Propolis, Snacks and Hi God People; and upcoming film Here at the End, by Campbell Walker, as actor/co-writer.

  • Isha Ram Das
  • Isha Ram Das is a composer and sound artist primarily concerned with ecologies of environment and culture. He works with experimental sound techniques to produce performances, installations and recordings. He was the 2019 recipient of the Lionel Gell Award for Composition, and has scored feature-length films and nationally-touring theatre installations. He has performed at institutions such as the Sydney Opera House; Black Dot Gallery, Melbourne; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Metro Arts, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and Boxcopy, Brisbane.

  • Dylan Robinson
  • Dylan Robinson is a xwélméxw (Stó:lō) writer, artist, scholar and curator, He is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, and associate professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is author of Hungry Listening, Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, published by University of Minnesota Press.

  • Megan Cope
  • Megan Cope is a Quandamooka woman (North Stradbroke Island) in South East Queensland. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and mapping practices. Cope’s work often resists prescribed notions of Aboriginality and becomes psychogeographies across various material outcomes that challenge the grand narrative of ‘Australia’ as well as our sense of time and ownership in a settler colonial state.

  • Sean Baxter
  • Australian musician Sean Baxter died on 15 March 2020. Part of Melbourne's improv scene, he is described by musician Anthony Pateras as possessing “a unique aesthetic vision and intellectual depth, mixing highbrow philosophical concepts with punk sensibilities in how he lived, spoke and played. He was pure energy.”

    Drumkit and percussionist, Sean was an Australian improviser who forged an international reputation as a bold explorer of percussive possibilities both as a soloist and through his work with the acclaimed avant-garde trio, Pateras/Baxter/Brown. Focusing on the use of extended techniques applied to the conventional drum kit, he utilised an arsenal of metallic junk and other percussive detritus to expand the sonic palette of the percussion tradition. In addition to Pateras/Baxter/Brown, he was involved in many collaborations and was drummer for groups The Throwaways, Bucketrider, Lazy, SxSxSx and Terminal Hz.

  • Thomas Ragnar
  • Thomas Ragnar is an artist based in Singapore. His work is often underpinned by collaborations, affinities and research with experiential methodologies.

  • Alessandro Bosetti
  • Alessandro Bosetti is an Italian composer, performer and sound artist, currently based in Marseille. His work delves into the musicality of spoken language, utilising misunderstandings, translations and interviews as compositional tools. His works for voice and electronics blur the line between electro-acoustic composition, aural writing and performance.

  • Lin Chi-Wei
  • Lin Chi-Wei is a legend of Taiwanese sonic art, whose practice incorporates folklore culture, noise, ritual, and audience participation.

  • Mat Dryhurst
  • Mat Dryhurst is an artist who releases music and artworks solo and in conjunction with Holly Herndon and the record label PAN. Dryhurst developed the decentralised publishing framework Saga, which enables creators to claim ownership of each space in which their work appears online, and a number of audio plays that derive their narrative from the personal information of listeners. He lectures on issues of music, technology, and ideology at NYU, and advises the blockchain-based platform co-operative Resonate.is.

  • Sean Dockray
  • Sean Dockray is an artist, writer, and programmer living in Melbourne whose work explores the politics of technology, with a particular emphasis on artificial intelligences and the algorithmic web. He is also the founding director of the Los Angeles non-profit Telic Arts Exchange, and initiator of knowledge-sharing platforms, The Public School and Aaaaarg.

  • Emile Frankel
  • Author of Hearing the Cloud (Zero Books), Emile Frankel is a writer and composer researching the changing conditions of online listening. In his spare time he runs the Sci-Fi and critical fantasy publisher Formling.

  • Bridget Chappell
  • Bridget Chappell is a raver and theory bro currently living on the unceded nations of the Latji Latji and Nyeri Nyeri people. They make music as Hextape and organise parties in drains, observatories, and other natural amphitheatres. They founded and run Sound School, work with young musicians behind bars, and make experimental sound technologies to challenge police sirens.

  • Holly Herndon
  • Holly Herndon experiments at the outer reaches of dance music and pop. Born in Tennessee, Herndon spent her formative years in Berlin’s techno scene and repatriated to San Francisco, where she completed her PhD at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Her albums include Platform (2015) and Proto (2019).

  • Candice Hopkins
  • Candice Hopkins is a curator, writer and researcher interested in history, art and indigeneity, and their intersections. Originally from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Hopkins is a citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation. She was senior curator for the 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art, and worked on the curatorial teams for the Canadian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, and documenta 14.

  • Raven Chacon
  • Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. His work ranges from chamber music to experimental noise, to large scale installations, produced solo and with the Indigenous art collective Postcommodity. At California Institute of the Arts, Chacon studied with James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, Michael Pisaro and Wadada Leo Smith developing a compositional language steeped in both the modernist avant-garde and Indigenous cosmologies and subjectivities. He has written for ensembles, musicians and non-musicians, and for social and educational situations, and toured the world as a noise artist.

  • Lisa Lerkenfeldt
  • Lisa Lerkenfeldt is a multi-disciplinary artist working in sound, gesture and performance. Central to her practice is languages of improvisation and intimacy with technology. Traces of a personal discipline and form of graphic notation are introduced in the online exhibition 14 Gestures. The associated recorded work Collagen (Shelter Press, 2020) disrupts the role of the common hair comb through gesture and sound.

  • Haroon Mirza
  • Haroon Mirza is an artist who intertwines his practice with the role of composer. Mirza considers electricity his main medium and creates atmospheric environments through the linking together of light, sound, music, videos and elements of architecture. Regularly showing internationally in group and solo exhibitions, Mirza’s work has also been included in the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, China (2012) and the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy (2011), where he was awarded the Silver Lion.

  • 33EMYBW
  • Shanghai native 33EMYBW (Wu Shanmin) has been an active member in the Chinese music scene for over a decade. She has also performed at CTM and Sinotronics in Germany, China Drifting Festival in Switzerland, and SXSW. Her 2018 album Golem, released on SVBKVLT, was met with critical acclaim and voted one of the best electronic albums of 2018 by Bandcamp. In 2019 she released DONG2 EP under Merrie Records Beijing, and will premiere her sophomore album Arthropods (SVBKVLT) at Unsound 2019.

  • Alexander Garsden
  • Alexander Garsden is a Melbourne-based composer, guitarist and electroacoustic musician, working across multiple exploratory musical disciplines. Recent work includes commissions from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Speak Percussion, Michael Kieran Harvey and Eugene Ughetti; alongside performances with artists including Tetuzi Akiyama (Japan), Oren Ambarchi, Radu Malfatti (Austria), Julia Reidy, David Stackenäs (Sweden), and with Erkki Veltheim and Rohan Drape. From 2014 to 2019 Garsden was Co-Director of the INLAND Concert Series. He has taught through RMIT University and the University of Melbourne.

  • Annika Kristensen
  • Annika Kristensen is Senior Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.

  • Arben Dzika
  • Arben Dzika is an artist whose practice involves working with various media including, but not limited to: sound, image, word, and performance. His work primarily seeks to reflect on, interrogate, and play with technologies, systems, and human senses. Within his practice, he works as a producer and DJ under the moniker, Dilae.

  • Audrey Schmidt
  • Audrey Schmidt is a writer and editor based in Melbourne, Australia. She is a regular contributor to Memo Review, co-editor the third issue of Dissect Journal, and has written for various publications including Art Monthly, Art + Australia and un Magazine. She co-founded Minority Report with Adam Hammad in 2018 and released one online issue that was available until the domain expired in 2019. Audrey sits on the FYTA (GR) Board of Advisors.

  • Autumn Royal
  • Autumn Royal is a poet, researcher, and teacher based in Narrm/Melbourne. Autumn’s current research examines elegiac expression in contemporary poetry. Autumn is the interviews editor for Cordite Poetry Review, and author of the poetry collections She Woke & Rose (Cordite Books, 2016) and Liquidation (Incendium Radical Library, 2019). Her third collection of poetry is forthcoming with Giramondo Publishing in 2021.

  • Bianca Winataputri
  • Bianca Winataputri is a Melbourne-based independent curator and writer researching contemporary practice in Southeast Asia, and relationships between individuals and collectives in relation to history, globalisation, identity and community building. Currently working at Regional Arts Victoria, Bianca was previously Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the NGA. She holds a BA (University of Melbourne), and BA Honours from the ANU where she received the Janet Wilkie Prize for Art. In 2018 Bianca was selected for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s Curators’ Intensive.

  • Brian Hioe
  • Brian Hioe was one of the founding editors of New Bloom, an online magazine covering activism and youth politics in Taiwan and the Asia Pacific, founded in 2014 in the wake of the Sunflower Movement. Hioe is a freelance writer on social movements and politics, as well as an occasional translator.

  • Chi Tran
  • Chi Tran is a writer, editor, and an artist who makes poems that may be text, video, object, sound, or drawing. Chi is primarily interested in working with language as a means of coming-to-terms. Their work has been published by Incendium Radical Library Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Australian Poetry and Liminal Magazine and exhibited at galleries including Firstdraft, Sydney; Punk Café, Melbourne; and ACCA, Melbourne. In 2019, as a recipient of The Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fund, Chi spent three months in New York developing their practice with renowned poets including Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Fred Moten, and Jackie Wang.

  • Chun Yin Rainbow Chan
  • Chun Yin Rainbow Chan is a Hong Kong–Australian artist, living in Sydney. Working across music, performance and installation, Rainbow is interested in the copy and how the ways in which it can disrupt Western notions of ownership. Central to Rainbow's work is the circulation of knock-off objects, sounds and images in global media. Her work positions the counterfeit as a complex sign that shapes new myths, values and contemporary commodity production.

  • Dale Gorfinkel
  • Dale Gorfinkel is a musician-artist whose stylefree improvisational approach informs his performances, instrument-building, and kinetic sound installations. Aiming to reflect an awareness of the dynamic nature of culture and the value of listening as a mode of knowing people and places, Dale is interested in bringing creative communities together and shifting perceived boundaries. Current projects include Prophets, Sounds Like Movement, and Music Yared as well as facilitating Art Day South, an inclusive arts studio with Arts Access Victoria.

  • Danni Zuvela
  • Danni Zuvela is a curator and writer based in Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Her research is informed by interests in feminism, activism, ecology, language and performance. With Joel Stern, Danni has led Liquid Architecture as Artistic Director, and continues to develop curatorial projects for the organisation.

  • Eric Avery
  • Eric Avery is a Ngiyampaa, Yuin, Bandjalang and Gumbangirr artist. As part of his practice Eric plays the violin, dances and composes music. Working with his family’s custodial songs he seeks to revive and continue on an age old legacy – continuing the tradition of singing in his tribe – utilising his talents to combine and create an experience of his peoples culture.

  • Fjorn Butler
  • Fjorn Butler is an artist, researcher, and event organiser. As an artist, she works primarily in sound and performance under the name Papaphilia. As a researcher, she interrogates how biological discourses are used in neoliberal/colonial governance structures to shape the political. Fjorn's research informs her writing on sound-poetics and the challenges this framework poses to anglophone notions of property. She is also co-director of Future Tense and co-curator of Writing and Concepts.

  • Freya Schack-Arnott
  • Freya Schack-Arnott is an Australian/Danish cellist who enjoys a multi-faceted career as a soloist and ensemble performer of classical and contemporary repertoire, curator and improviser within experimental music, electronics, popular and cross-disciplinary art forms. Schack-Arnott regularly performs with Australia's leading new music ensembles, including ELISION Ensemble (as core member) and Ensemble Offspring. Her curatorial roles include co-curator/founder of the regular 'Opus Now' music series and previous curator of the NOW Now festival and Rosenberg Museum.

  • Gooooose
  • Gooooose (Han Han) is an electronic music producer, visual artist and software developer based in Shanghai, China. His current releases include They (D Force, 2017), Dong 1 (D Force, 2018), Pro Rata (ANTE-RASA, 2019). Gooooose's 2019 SVBKVLT–released RUSTED SILICON received positive reviews from media including boomkat, Resident Advisor, Dusted Magazine, and The Wire. Gooooose has performed live at CTM (Berlin, 2018), Nyege Nyege (Kampala, 2019), Soft Centre (Sydney, 2019), Unsound (Kraków, 2019) and Recombinant (San Francisco, 2019).

  • Harmony Holiday
  • Harmony Holiday is a writer, dancer, archivist, director, and the author of four collections of poetry, Negro League Baseball, Go Find Your Father/A Famous Blues, Hollywood Forever, and A Jazz Funeral for Uncle Tom. She lives in New York and Los Angeles.

  • James Rushford
  • James Rushford is an Australian composer-performer who holds a doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts, and was a 2018 fellow at Academy Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. His work is drawn from a familiarity with specific concrète, improvised, avant-garde and collagist languages. Currently, his work deals with the aesthetic concept of musical shadow. James has been commissioned as a composer by ensembles including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Glasgow), and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and regularly performs in Australia and internationally.

  • Jessica Aszodi
  • Jessica Aszodi is an Australian-born, London-based vocalist who has premiered many new pieces, performed work that has lain dormant for centuries, and sung roles ranging from standard operatic repertoire to artistic collaborations. She has been a soloist with ensembles including ICE; the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras; and San Diego and Chicago Symphony Orchestras’ chamber series. Aszodi can be heard on numerous recordings and has sung in festivals around the world. She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Queensland Conservatorium, an MFA from the University of California, and is co-director of the Resonant Bodies Festival (Australia), and artistic associate of BIFEM.

  • KT Spit
  • Kt Spit (Katie Collins) is an artist and musician based in Narrm (Melbourne). Lyrically and visually her work explores subcultural narratives and challenges dominant representations of loss, grief, and true love. In 2015 Kt independently released her debut album, Combluotion, and in 2019 will release a visual album entitled Kill the King.

  • Immy Chuah and The Convoy
  • The Convoy conjure illustrious soundscapes from the abyss of chaos, revealing hidden worlds of the imagination as the performance takes form and infuses with subjective experience. Using instruments of sound, light and smell, The Convoy enchant space with themes of tension, evolution, entropy and regeneration. Sensorial immersion transports audiences through highly dynamic environments that shift and blend into one single, breathing moment. As entity, rather than singular, Immy Chuah is a guest within The Convoy on unceded land.

  • Sam Peterson
  • Sarah McCauley
  • Sarah McCauley is a Melbourne-based music producer, editor and writer.

  • Neil Morris
  • Neil Morris is a Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung man. He is well known in Narrm/Birraranga for his musical project DRMNGNOW, a project built on subject matter tackling the colonial nature of the Australian construct and how that affects contemporary society upon this land. The work is unapologetic, clear, and deeply poetic. It hints toward Morris's extensive experience as a spoken word artist in Narrm since 2015. Morris's work is triumphant in the face of severe adversity often imbued in a quite fortified melancholy, a powerful marker of the survival of First Nations peoples in the now.

  • Natasha Tontey
  • Natasha Tontey is an artist and graphic designer based in Yogyakarta. She is interested in exploring the concept of fiction as a method of speculative thinking. Through her artistic practice she investigates the idea of how fear, horror, and terror could be manifested in order to control the public and how fictional accounts of the history and myth surrounding ‘manufactured fear’ might operate as a method of speculative fiction that determines expectations for the future.

  • Mat Spisbah
  • Mat Spisbah is a New Media curator with a unique portfolio of programming that seeks to integrate non-traditional artistic methods and emerging technologies. Having lived in Hong Kong for 14 years, he is connected to the region’s art and culture, and has created professional networks with artists, curators, galleries, promoters and industry professionals across Australasia. Portfolio highlights include the debut Australian performances of north Asian artists including: Howie Lee, Rui Ho, Meuko Meuko, Pan Daijing, Alex Zhang Hungtai, Tzusing, and Gabber Modus Operandi.

  • Mandy Nicholson
  • Mandy Nicholson is a Wurundjeri-willam (Wurundjeri-baluk patriline) artist and Traditional Custodian of Melbourne and surrounds. Mandy also has connections to the Dja Dja wurrung and Ngurai illam wurrung language groups of the Central/Eastern Kulin Nation. Mandy gained a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Aboriginal Archaeology in 2011, worked for the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages for six years and is now a PhD candidate studying how Aboriginal people connect to Country, Off Country.

  • Lucreccia Quintanilla
  • Lucreccia Quintanilla is an artist, writer, DJ and PhD candidate researcher at Monash University. Her writing and art have been published and exhibited both within Australia and internationally. Quintanilla’s practice is a collaborative one that manifests into outcomes within galleries and also as events and performances outside of that context. She regularly speaks at panels and symposiums on themes within her research, has received grants for her projects and residencies, and has taught at university level.

  • Amanda Stewart
  • Amanda Stewart is a poet, author, and vocal artist. She has created a diverse range of publications, performances, film and radio productions in Australia, Europe, Japan, and the USA, working in literature, new music, broadcasting, theatre, dance, and new media environments. Amanda collaborated with Chris Mann for many years in the Australian ensemble, Machine For Making Sense (with Jim Denley, Rik Rue, and Stevie Wishart), as well as in other contexts. Her poem ‘ta’ was written in honour of Chris Mann’s extraordinary vision and work.

  • Holly Childs
  • Holly Childs is an artist and writer. Her research involves filtering stories of computation through frames of ecology, earth, memory, poetry, and light. She is the author of two books: No Limit (Hologram, Melbourne) and Danklands (Arcadia Missa, London), and she collaborates with Gediminas Žygus on ‘Hydrangea’. She is currently writing her third book, What Causes Flowers Not to Bloom?.

  • Ivy Alvarez
  • Ivy Alvarez’s poetry collections include The Everyday English Dictionary, Disturbance, and Mortal. Her latest is Diaspora: Volume L (Paloma Press, 2019). A Fellow of MacDowell Colony (US), and Hawthornden (UK), her work is widely published and anthologised (twice in Best Australian Poems), with poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived in Wales for almost a decade, before arriving in New Zealand in 2014.

  • Nick Ashwood
  • Nick Ashwood is a guitarist, composer, improviser and performer from Nipaluna/Tasmania now residing in Sydney. His focuses have been exploring deep listening, harmonic space and the possibilities of the steel-string acoustic guitar by means of preparations, just intonation, objects and bowing.

  • Johnny Chang
  • Berlin-based composer-performer Johnny Chang engages in extended explorations surrounding the relationships of sound/listening and the in-between areas of improvisation, composition and performance. Johnny is part of the Wandelweiser composers collective and currently collaborates with: Catherine Lamb (Viola Torros project), Mike Majkowski (illogical harmonies), Phill Niblock, Samuel Dunscombe, Derek Shirley and others.

  • Megan Alice Clune
  • Megan Alice Clune shifts between musician, composer and artist. Primarily, her work explores both the concept and aesthetics of ambient music through sound installation, collaboration and performance. Megan is the founding member of the Alaska Orchestra, and has presented work and undertaken residencies across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America, including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival (MA), Next Wave Festival, Underbelly Arts Festival, Performa 15 (NYC) and VividLIVE at the Sydney Opera House.

  • Andrew Fedorovitch
  • Andrew Fedorovitch is compos mentis.
 Andrew Fedorovitch embodies professionalism in every aspect of his life, including music.

  • Shota
  • Shota is an artist working in Australia. He makes sound-based works for varying contexts. He has had the opportunity to collaborate with a multitude of artists from varying disciplines. Shota is currently an honours student who is associated with the Plant ecophysiology and Ecosystem processes lab at the University of Sydney.

  • Sonya Holowell
  • Sonya Holowell is a Dharawal woman, vocalist, composer and writer working across new and experimental genres. The contexts for her work, and the forms they take, are diverse and deeply questioning. Her practice comprises interdisciplinary collaboration, improvisation, multi-form writing and conceptual composition. She is also a workshop facilitator; a curator of the Now Now Festival; lecturer in experimental vocal practice; and a co-founder/editor of online arts publication ADSR Zine.

  • Alexandra Spence
  • Alexandra Spence is an artist and musician living on Gadigal country in Sydney, Australia. She makes installations, compositions and performances based on (everyday) sound and listening. Through her practice she attempts to reimagine the intricate relationships between the listener, the object, and the surrounding environment as a kind of communion or conversation. She has a current, near-spiritual, obsession with the animation of material and object through sound. Alex has performed and presented work on radio, in concerts, festivals, symposiums and galleries worldwide, and has two releases: Waking, She Heard The Fluttering, with Room40, and Immaterial, with Longform Editions.

  • MP Hopkins
  • MP Hopkins is an artist based in Sydney, Australia, that is concerned with how to record voices that are not really there, and ways to make voices that are there not sound like voices. He makes audio recordings, performances, and texts.

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If Something is Asleep
You Can Always Wake it Up

Mandy Nicholson
in conversation with Danni Zuvela

Danni Zuvela

Mandy, your talks, songs and performances are have been so influential and inspiring for those who have witnessed your work. Would you mind telling us a bit about your background, your family and Country?

Mandy Nicholson

My background includes German on my mum’s side, Irish on my grandfather’s side and Aboriginal on my father’s side. I am a Wurundjeri woman and also have connections with two other Aboriginal Language Groups being Dja Dja Wurrung and Ngurai Illum Wurrung. All three are Victorian, and if I go even further back, I have other connections to other Victorian groups. I grew up On Country in Healesville then moved Off Country for many years and now have returned and live in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. My Wurundjeri traditional homelands include the Birrarung (Yarra) watershed taking in the Yarra Valley, all the way to Narrm (Melbourne). They are bordered on the north by the Great Dividing Range, by the Werribee River to the west, Gardiners Creek to the south and Mount Baw Baw to the east.

DZ

As a Traditional Custodian of Narrm, could you tell us more about the layers of Wurundjeri Country and their meaning for you?

MN

As a Traditional Custodian of the Greater Melbourne area, I do not see the buildings or the concrete: I see what is beneath, in and above. The six layers of Wurundjeri Country include the Biik-ut (Below Country) where we get our ochre from to decorate our bodies for ceremony and dance. The second layer is Biik-dui (On Country) where we walk, dance and conduct ceremony, this layer we can physically see but we can also feel its spirituality. The third layer is Baanj Biik (Water Country), which sustains all life, all the rivers, creeks, raindrops, mist and dew are included in this layer. Water forms part of a Welcome Ceremony, as guests are invited to drink water from Country out of a wooden bowl called a tarnuk, to symbolise that resources are safe while the visitor is on Country. The fourth layer is Murnmut Biik (Wind Country), this layer is important as it allows the smoke from Welcoming fires, and the language you speak and sing, to transcend up to Bunjil. The wind allows your ngulu (Voice), and the healing properties found in the eucalyptus oil released when smoking them, to embed into all layers. The fifth layer is Wurru wurru Biik (Sky Country), this is where the physical form of our Spirit Protectors and Creator can be seen. Our Creator is Bunjil the Eagle and Waa the Raven, his helper. The final sixth layer is Tharangalk Biik (Forest Country above the clouds) and is Bunjil’s home. Bunjil is surrounded by his helpers and two wives, the Gunuwarra (Black Swans). The Gunuwarra can still be seen in the artificial lights of the city, you just need to look up!

DZ

Amongst the violence of colonisation and its continuing attempts at cultural erasure, you’ve powerfully stated that Aboriginal culture has not been ‘lost’ but is ‘sleeping’. You’ve mentioned how many of the terms that circulate today in relation to Indigenous self-determination — such as ‘discrimination’, ‘land rights’, ‘sovereignty’ and ‘treaty’ mean a lot to you but, as you’ve previously stated, are words that are ‘overused, not at the fault of users, but to the ears of the listeners’, whom you say consequently may ‘no longer “hear” its message’. Can you expand upon these thoughts with regards to the act of listening, for you, and the role of sound for waking up culture?

MN

I think all of the above terms have been used for so long, and rightfully, as we are still fighting for the same things that our grandparents and great-grandparents did. However, the wider community have definitely become desensitised by such statements, which become an annoyance for them, and this is supported by the media only portraying negative things about Aboriginal people. I think that this can change by referring to Aboriginal people and culture in present tense, not past tense all the time. This is also our responsibility to make culture relevant and present for all, especially in an urban environment.

If something is dead it will never recover, but if something is asleep you can always wake it up. With ancient languages and cultures, there are ways of learning and teaching that are far from the colonial mindset of intelligence, learning and teaching. Oral learning is the only way to learn, and being out On Country is another. None of this can be learnt from a book or course. I knew this and made sure, in terms of language, that I gained the tools so I could teach others in my mob. I worked at VACL (Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages) for six years and being able to apply grammar to my language enabled me to express my language in context rather that only having a wordlist. This then enabled me to create songs for my dance group Djirri Djirri. This is a new way to get our culture out there in a positive and powerful way as no-one can challenge song and dance, like they challenge land rights, treaty, and sovereignty.

Hearing Indigenous language is very therapeutic as there are sounds made that do not exist in English. It is very tricky to learn yourself because you have to have conversations with yourself to create context. But when you put it into a song and have others singing with you, the feeling is amazing — your ears have never heard these sounds and when they are sung powerfully, your body gets chills. The healing properties of sounds are also powerful, for example, the Yidarki is well known for therapeutic purposes.

DZ

As someone who learned how to translate revival languages with a focus on your mother tongue, Woiwurrung, you have been a highly respected language specialist and educator for many years. Do you mind explaining the relationship between Wurundjeri and Woiwurrung?

MN

There are five language groups within the central and eastern Kulin Nation. They include Wurundjeri (Woiwurrung), Boon wurrung, Daung wurrung, Dja Dja wurrung, and Wadawurrung. As you can see they all end in the word wurrung which means mouth or language, so we are connected through our languages. Wurundjeri are the only group who call ourselves an umbrella term of Wurundjeri, as this was the only Woiwurrung speaking clan group that survived invasion out of the five Woiwurrung speaking clans. The further that you go geographically, the less in common languages and cultures are. Aboriginal Australia is a multicultural Australia, as each mob has different beliefs and customs and this is reinforced by such variances in language.

DZ

You’ve been researching the ways in which Aboriginal people remain connected even when they are physically not on their Country. How do you listen, On and Off Country?

MN

One important bird that we dance about is the Buln Buln, the Lyrebird. He is the master of listening and mimicry. Our culture is the same, our dances mimic the animals, not just by watching them, but listening to them. Even if I am in the loudest environment, I will stop in my tracks when I hear the calls of birds that we are connected to. My ears are culturally attuned to their sounds, as though they are speaking to me, and I hear them above all other sounds. So, it doesn’t matter if I am On or Off Country, my ears are constantly listening out for our spiritual messengers. My daughters also have these cultural ears as we often hear them at the exact same time.

DZ

As there’s such shared and personal pleasures and strengths associated with expressing language, would you like to share some words in language that connect and mean a lot to you?

MN

Wominjeka is commonly translated as ‘welcome’, but it has three parts: womin means to come, dji is a word-ending instructing you to come and ka is purpose. My favourite line to one of our songs is ‘Wirrigirri-al Murrup-u’ meaning ‘spirit’s messenger’, with the literal translation of Wirrigirri being ‘messenger-of’ and Murrup meaning ‘spirit’, which relates to Djirri Djirri the Willy Wagtail. Another one of my favourite words is Twaganin, which means ‘go-you’, so there’s no word for ‘goodbye’.

Contributor/s

Mandy Nicholson is a Wurundjeri-willam (Wurundjeri-baluk patriline) artist and Traditional Custodian of Melbourne and surrounds. Mandy also has connections to the Dja Dja wurrung and Ngurai illam wurrung language groups of the Central/Eastern Kulin Nation. Mandy gained a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Aboriginal Archaeology in 2011, worked for the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages for six years and is now a PhD candidate studying how Aboriginal people connect to Country, Off Country.

Danni Zuvela is a curator and writer based in Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Her research is informed by interests in feminism, activism, ecology, language and performance. With Joel Stern, Danni has led Liquid Architecture as Artistic Director, and continues to develop curatorial projects for the organisation.

Notes

    Disclaimer is a journal for new thinking and writing on listening and sound. Published by Liquid Architecture • Disclaimer is a journal for new thinking and writing on listening and sound. Published by Liquid Architecture

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