As a descendant and Senior Elder of the First Peoples of Melbourne, the Yaluk-ut Weelam Clan of the Boonwurrung language group and the Wamba Wemba of the Murray River, N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM is the Chairperson and Founder of the Boon Wurrung Foundation and Board Member of the Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council.

    N’arweet has been involved in developing and supporting opportunities for Indigenous communities throughout Victoria and many other communities around Australia. For over 50 years, she has been proactive in developing strategies for the promotion and maintenance of Boonwurrung culture and heritage. As a result, N’arweet was nominated and appointed as a Member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

    In 2006, N’arweet established the Boon Wurrung Foundation, which has been responsible for significant work in cultural research, including the restoration of Boonwurrung language. The Foundation also helps connect Indigenous youth to their heritage through dance, songs, cultural events and mentoring throughout their academic and professional aspirations.

    Having undertaken studies in Language and Linguistics, N’arweet has recorded the Boonwurrung language both in oral and written form and completed her Doctorate in Philosophy – Media & Communications – informing culture and knowledge to our urban youth using technology.

    What activities will the Creators Fund support you to undertake?

    I’m leading the Kummargii Yulendji (Rising Knowledge) project to develop a cultural walking and listening experience weaving together Boon Wurrung knowledge about Caring for Country and western tools for regenerative living and working. My goal is to create a ‘virtual elder’. I’ve become interested in urban play as a way of connecting knowledge to place again. Augmented reality is a tool to give a voice to living country, healing country. It’s about memory, language, and waterways and connecting people back to these. To bring people back to the lived experience, connection with place. Land is a living entity. Water is the lifeblood.

    Can you talk us through what your work routine will look like with the help of a creator's fund grant?

    I want to be able to evolve and nurture young people, give them confidence to bring their voice to the project through the guidance of an elder. We’ve planned the project so that I am engaged at key moments – developing the collective vision, walking on country to find the markers and patterns, recording my stories, listening and playing to experiences, talking through feedback, and sharing my reflection and direction with everyone. It is my hope that we can engage some young creatives as part of the process.

    Where would you like to see yourself and your career at the end of this process?

    I’d like this to be a pilot to show other communities that this will be a tool for them as well. Eventually, I’d like to see this digital map cover the entire Kulin Nation and beyond so that wherever you are you’ll be able to find a point of connection. The markers, the patterns, they are all still there – I’d like for this project to allow me to share them, make them visible. I’d really like to make something that the next generation can work with to shape the future, embedding language and knowledge in place, to make sure that we are not forgotten and that, in fact, this knowledge is the key to shared future in which everyone plays a part in Caring for Country.


    Troy Innocent

    Troy Innocent is an urban play scholar, artist game-maker and VC Senior Research Fellow in creative practice research at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia where he develops projects that connect public art, digital design, media studies and landscape architecture. He explores multiple ways of being in his works of design, sculpture, animation, sound, light and installation using methods of multi-platform storytelling that connect objects with their environment to build speculative worlds, games people can play.

    These worlds explore connections between language and reality, engaging with the contemporary mediascape through his unique aesthetic language that traverses geometric abstraction and digital iconography and has 25 years’ experience in gallery-based exhibitions, symposia and site-specific projects.

    Innocent develops augmented reality games that blend physical objects with digital interfaces to reimagine everyday urban environments in playful ways; situating his work in Aarhus, Melbourne, Bristol, Barcelona, Istanbul, Ogaki, Sydney, Tampere and Hong Kong.

    He is creator of 64 Ways of Being, an urban adventure platform combining audio walks and mixed realities to situate players in new experiences of place. Drawing upon posthumanist philosophy and speculative fiction, he works with the city as a material, creating experiences that ask players to reimagine, remake and reconnect with their world.

    What activities will the Creators Fund support you to undertake? 

    This support will allow me to engage with a confluence of ideas that came together at the start of the pandemic while working on 64 Ways of Being. My work engages with mixed realities, ways of connecting knowledge and experience to place. My role is to support and facilitate this collaboration through my own knowledge and experience in game design, and the resources within the Future Play Lab. However, Kummargii Yulendji is also an opportunity for me to work more intensively with N’arweet and learn from her expertise and experience in connecting knowledge to place – her way of being in the world is always contextual, situated and locative. I see this as a learning experience and an opportunity for knowledge translation, a way of sharing Boon Wurrung knowledge through a place-based experience.

    Can you talk us through what your work routine will look like with the help of a creator's fund grant?   

    Walking, a lot of walking – and listening. We’ll move through intensive moments of collaboration where we are all working together on location and working through the design, and time in the lab making and building before heading out to play again. I’m really interested in developing some custom, generative code for the flow of the experience and plan to dedicate a lot of time to experimenting with prototypes that respond to concepts that emerge through collaboration. Part of the development process will involve working with Jarra Steel and Matt Sykes in the Future Play Lab and finding a collective, collaborative process that works for all of us across recording and sound production, animation and design, augmented reality and code – connecting these in a playable experience.

    Where would you like to see yourself and your career at the end of this process?

    Through this process we’d like to kickstart the Kummargii Yulendji and put into practice the ideas that have emerged through conversations over the past few years. To make them tangible and find further opportunities for our project by making a playable prototype that is both a proof of concept and a proof of technology for an indigenous owned platform that shares place-based knowledge. On a more personal level, my experiences during lockdown have really changed my perspective on the world and I’d like that shift to stay with me going forward, to find a ‘new normal’ grounded in care and connection.