Knowledge goes hand-in-hand with responsibility. It’s handed down from generation to generation so that wisdom is never forgotten. We are guided by knowledge and exist in this world by learning about the relationship which exists between us and the land. Knowledge isn’t a right, but rather, accessing higher levels of knowledge is a sacred practice which is to be respected (Calma 2009). This is a beautiful perspective of knowledge which is held by many Aboriginal Australian people. Proceeding my trip to Uluru in 2016, where I had the privilege of learning about the Aboriginal Australian culture, I became deeply fascinated with the cultural practice of knowledge sharing. This experience was the foundational block which propelled my curiosity around the utilization of virtual reality (VR) technology and its ability to respectfully facilitate the sharing of Australian Aboriginal knowledge.
Knowledge; Experiences Altering my Perspective
I have a Macedonian heritage, meaning that my understanding of Aboriginal Australian culture is predominantly based on primary and secondary education. One of the first astonishing facts I can remember learning is the age of Aboriginal Australian culture, which dates back around 50 000 years. To maintain cultural practices across this time period, storytelling was performed to ensure that each generation knew how to live with the land. The land provided for the people and the people nurtured the land, participating in a cyclical and flourishing, interdependent relationship. Art was used to symbolize the Dreaming through practices such as painting, music, dance, song, body art and other customs. Unlike our very distinguished art industry, traditional Australian Aboriginal art was a way of life and was performed by the entire community, everyday.
Aboriginal Australian Culture and Knowledge Sharing in VR
My experience at Uluru revealed to me the importance of knowledge in this culture and such a beautiful perspective merits preservation. I acknowledge that the destruction and displacement of traditional communities has significantly altered knowledge sharing practices. I am hopeful to utilize VR technology in a beneficial way, with the objective of developing a method that can communicate the truth behind Aboriginal Australian history and culture.
VR, as an immersive experience, could facilitate knowledge sharing in a seemingly life-like way. By no means am I suggesting that technology should replace traditional methods of knowledge sharing but rather it could be utilized to assist in the scale of select knowledge. While some information is sacred due to it’s spiritual and cultural significance, VR could store and communicate publicly accessible knowledge. While many people may have heard about Aboriginal Australian culture, VR would bring experiences to life. In this experience, the user would be able to hear the singing, see the dancing, smell the smoke and learn through a realistic experience. By putting oneself in a situation which goes beyond explaining Aboriginal Australian culture, a more holistic appreciation of knowledge systems can be developed.
Not only would this method of knowledge sharing further the education of society broadly speaking but it could assist future generations who have an Aboriginal Australian heritage to better connect with their ancestry and culture. As the majority of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population live in major cities (ABS 2016), which is highly differing from traditional communities, an immersive experience may provide individuals with meaningful insights into their history and connect them with their family.
The purpose of sharing my ideas is to question whether or not VR can facilitate the preservation of knowledge. Your support, insights, experience and clarity are greatly appreciated and will guide our future decisions in regard to this initiative. Share your knowledge with us here.