26 July 2022

Digital stories leave our institutions and hit the streets

| Claire Fenwicke
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Malcolm Snow and Patrick McIntyre

City Renewal Authority CEO Malcolm Snow and NFSA CEO Patrick McIntyre at the Garema Place STORYBOX installation. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

A giant two-square-metre cube has taken up residence in Garema Place, digitally showcasing the creative knowledge of the city.

STORYBOX Canberra was created in consultation with the city’s makers and creators to reveal “moments of inspiration” that have formed our history.

City Renewal Authority CEO Malcolm Snow said it created a unique opportunity to connect with Canberra creatives, from the national institutions to grassroots creatives.

“We are proud to work with such a diverse group of partners and collaborate to provide new and thought-provoking ways for Canberrans and visitors alike to explore all that our city centre has to offer,” he said.

“It’s [also] important that we celebrate local talent and we look forward to seeing their content come to life in this digital format.”

The content displayed on the digital cube will be updated regularly during the next three months, highlighting digital videos, photos, paintings and drawings that have been kept behind closed doors.

Contributors included the National Gallery of Australia, National Film and Sound Archive, Australian National University, Craft ACT, the National Museum of Australia and the Canberra Museum and Gallery.

National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) CEO Patrick McIntyre said he was “thrilled” to be sharing historical footage of Canberra held in the national audio-visual collection.

“There’s something magical about seeing these moving images in site-specific installations in the heart of the city,” he said.

“They are a wonderful reminder of the history of our community. Their sense of ambition and optimism invite us to look at our surroundings in new ways and to imagine the future city we want to live in.”

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NFSA took part in the previous STORYBOX initiative in Sydney, and said it was a great way to share the museum’s collection with a wider audience.

“We have more than 3.5 million collections in our archive, so here we’re showcasing just the ones that relate to Canberra,” Mr McIntyre said.

“It’s an opportunity to reflect on our past and a beautiful way to use digital technology to share our communal stories.”

Mr Snow hoped displaying these images and videos outside of our institutions would encourage people to walk through their doors to discover more.

“It’s about reminding people we have these institutions in our own city, but to some they may seem inaccessible, so it’s also about breaking down those barriers,” he said.

“We have so much choice, people should be taking full advantage of our incredible assets.”

Canberrans can also add their own personal touches to the installation.

The cube features data-driven interactive mood rings to take the emotional pulse of the city. Passers-by can scan a QR code and input their feelings to become part of the visual display.

Mr Snow said people could also provide their thoughts, ideas and memories of the city.

“I’m looking forward to that particular element, because I think people will be surprised and stunned about how different people view the city,” he said.

“What I hope we’ll see are visual provocations that cause people to stop in their tracks.”

Along with the cube, four digital plinths have been installed in the city’s west near the national institutions.

The STORYBOX installation will be in place from now until 30 September.

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