Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online




Dreamtime, Machinetime (1987)

Synopsis

An episodic documentary featuring distinguished Indigenous artists specialising in literary and visual art forms.

Curator’s notes

Dreamtime, Machinetime is a title borrowed from Trevor Nickolls’ artwork of the same name, and visits locations such as Yirrikala, Warndoolier (Perth), Minjerriba (Stradbroke Island), Narr’n (Melbourne), Balingup and Warrane (Sydney). A nicely paced documentary that showcases the work of writers Archie Welter and Oodgeroo Noonuccal and artists Banduk Marika and Trevor Nickolls. The documentary highlights the artists’ social conscience that gives substance and form to their work. The rhythm of this documentary allows the audience to participate in the work presented; entering the poetry of Kath Walker, or the prose of Archie Weller, their literature is given a visual component by the filmmakers.

In the culture of Banduk Marika, stories are inherited generation through generation, and are restricted. The word restricted means that each person can only re-tell a story that they have permission to. This inherited right to stories exists in all Indigenous cultures in Australia, and Banduk Marika tells us that she as an individual can only tell certain stories and paint certain symbols, like the barramundi for example. What this means is that not every artist is permitted to use the barramundi to tell their stories.

Nickolls’ visual art speaks about the marriage between Western culture and Indigenous culture, and how they represent two different ways of seeing the world. All of the artists in Dreamtime, Machinetime comment on the changes that are occurring for Indigenous peoples and Indigenous culture as a result of coming into contact with Western society, and it is this commentary that informs their artwork.