We watched the Emmy Award-winning virtual reality film Collisions in the Barbican, telling the story of Aboriginal elder Nyarri Nyarri Morgan. A Martu man from the remote Pilbara desert in Western Australia, he lived his early life with no knowledge or contact with Western culture. His world is all he knew.
Nyarri’s first contact with Western culture came in the 1950s via a dramatic collision between his traditional world view and the cutting edge of Western science and technology when he witnessed a British atomic test in the Australian outback.
The film reflects on this event, and Nyarri, an elder who has seen his community through dramatic changes, a speaker of seven Western Desert languages, offers viewers his perspective on the impact of this world changing moment set against the Martu perspective of caring for the planet for future generations.
This was the first time I had a glimpse at what Virtual Reality is all about – a rather interesting 360 degree experience. It felt like I was right there, with Nyarri, listening to his stories, joining him around the fire, flying over and looking around the vast Australian lands. A mind-blowing experience.
The programme was on for a short time only at the Barbican, but you may want to keep an eye on future screenings worldwide.
Now, at a time when technology is changing everything around us, it is a salient message about how the past continues to reverberate across the generations.