Outback and beyond: live media as live research

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Cooke, G 2010, 'Outback and beyond: live media as live research', Proceedings of A scholarly affair: National conference of the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia, Byron Bay, NSW, Byron Bay, NSW, Southern Cross University, Lismore, pp. 55-61. ISBN: 9780980498073


"Outback and Beyond: A Live Australian Western" is a live audio-visual performance I am currently developing with my collaborator, Rome-based sound artist Mike Cooper. This show is in the"live cinema" tradition, with Mike's soundtrack of deconstructed Blues and processed electronics, juxtaposed against my visuals, which consist of a live mix of archival footage of the Australian outback culled from films from the National Film and Sound Archive. the result is a live "Australian Western", a meditation on Australian iconography and mythography, the dusty hard-bitten DNA of national identity. With an outback road-movie soundtrack, and footage from docu-dramas, documentaries and feature films from the 1920s to the 1950s, "Outback and Beyond" presents the audience with a series of micro-narratives reminiscent of the themes and aesthetics of the western film genre, but crucially, it is a Western set in Australia's outback, reflecting Australia's own relationship to its land, its history and its peoples. In this presentation, I wish to explore the ways in which this project can be understood as research, not merely in its development but in its performance as well. as an emanation of the Australian archive, this project is an exploration of Australian mythography, the process by which images of Australia and Australians have taken on iconic and mythic import. The project interrogates these myths through the practice of de - and re-contextualization, the montage aesthetic of the VJ mix. Importantly however, because this show is live media, because it is different every time it is performed, because it is mixed live and designed for live performance not static broadcast, it is only in performance that this de- and re-contextualization occurs; and if by research we understand something like the purposeful study of a subject and the generation of knowledge that benefits others, then we can say that this project is constituted as research primarily in its live performance. this is live media as live research, real time scholarship, scholarship on-the-fly.