Living Data

Living Data

2018 Impacts:

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Media Impacts/ Index

Photos: Sebastian Reategui

Lens on Health:Indigenous and Western Views

The basic premise for The Lens on Health project is that human health is dependent on a world of diverse living things, that peoples' views reflect diverse beliefs and experiences, and that we must integrate (not separate our selves) in order to recognise, respect, and sustain diversity in our communities and in nature.

When planning the Lens on Health event for Science Week, I speak with UTS scientist Ellery Johnsonwho recognises the primary outcome as everyone coming away feeling "welcomed, introduced and engaged". This makes me realise the importance of documenting (with permissions), any evidence of this experience (if that's indeed what happens). Recordings of positive connections may inspire further insights, and inform new Publications and Presentations. With this in mind I entrust photojournalist Sebastian Reategui and Author Jake Morcom to participate, observe and document. Their productions reflect the impact of the event on them, and their unique approaches to telling a story:

  Sebastian Reategui

In Photos: Converging perspectives of Indigenous and Western health and wellbeing.
Photojournalism by Sebastian Reategui, 14th August 2018

  Jake Morcom

Podcast by Jake Morcom, 2SER, 4th October 2018:
Think Health



'Lens on Health' was presented in three parts: Roundtable, Microscopes, and Virtual Journey.

Acknowledgement of Country was given by UTS Life Scientist Sean Walsh,and followed by Roundtable Introductions and Discussion led by Megan Williams,Senior Lecturer in the Graduate School of Health at UTS. Megan identifies as a Wiradjuri descendent who also has Anglo-Celtic heritage. She invited us all (including the sound recordists and photojournalist) to say who we are, where we're from, and our relationship to Indigenous Australia. Stimulus for discussion was a videoI had made of marine microbial ecologist Dr Andrew Davidson, explaining connectivity in the Antarctic ecosystem. Megan recognised Andrew's story as a stimulus to reflect on the different ways we relate to each other and the natural world.

  Sean Walsh     Megan Williams     Andrew Davidson



After the Roundtable we were led by microscopist Sue Fenechand freshwater ecologists Anne Colville and Claire Sives,to look through microscopes and draw tiny things living in freshwater and saltwater systems.

  Sue Fenech     Anne Colville     ClaireSives

The drawings.reflect something of the range of world views expressed at the Roundtable. For example, drawings by Sue Fenech and Peter Fray reflect their predominately scientific and artistic perspectives respectively.



UTS Software Engineer Cat Kutayand I the led the Virtual Journey through Country in the UTS Data Arena.


Participants share their experience:


  Cat Kutay

What I experienced was a great process of collaboration to create the workshop, where different skills were combined under the vision of a more holistic view of science and a storytelling approach to learning.

The workshop itself was a chance to see phytoplankton and hear stories that we may have only heard about, not experienced. Also give the impact we are having on the world around us, it was a very positive approach. We all had pieces of the story to add to build a bigger picture of how we fit in the world.

The Data Arena display was the first version and, as usual, these displays can have issues when in presentation, whilst they work without a hitch in rehearsal.

The Pedestrian figure will become more manageable, to provide the guide representing the user's path through the landscape and stories. While the stories are informative, it is the links we make that bring knowledge.

Thank you for all those who provided feedback and ideas for the way forward.

Email Message
From: Cat Kutay
To: Lisa Roberts
Subject: RE: Documenting Lens on Health
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2018 23:23:06 +0000


  Sean Walsh


I liked the immersive nature of the day; that is, experiencing Indigenous and Western views and ways of knowing. The Western approaches were rather objective, using microscopes to observe, measure and categorise, incredibly interesting to see such small things engaging with their own 'micro' environment - very much a reflection of the 'macro' scaled environment of humans, but only smaller. Whereas the Indigenous views and ways of knowing required participation, not as an observer, but also sharing of yourself and having you as the agent of your own learning through Sharing, Dadirri (deep listening) and Storytelling.

A thought I have been reflecting on since the event: while 'western science' is a way or method of distilling information, it may not however allow people to 'connect' with the information nor explore the value of the information to them. This is why I found the creative input of the event so enriching, completing 'monocle lenses' (using colour, pencil and texture) to capture what was observed (in microscopes) and experienced (through participation) and contribute to a larger lens using art; it connected our wonderfully 'messiness' and expressiveness as humans with science and ways of knowing. The data arena was incredibly interesting - I appreciated the medium and creativity that valued both Indigenous and Western sciences and their cultural perspectives. I thought it a great deal of work and an important pilot project. For me, it demonstrated how 'data' in partnership with a creative process provides a human dimension and hence connection to information that would otherwise be siloed in academic journals and wrapped in layers of disciplinary jargon. It was an enabling process to break though barriers - disciplinary, cultural and interpersonal.

In terms of the circle

My experience: I found the immersive and participatory nature of the event very different, both with respect to my cultural background and professional disciplinary lens, where science in a western context is often about objectivity and detailing happenings, often removing the person, the emotive dimension and subjectivity, from the telling.

So saying that, I realised I had expected a process of participation, a shared experience. However, the nature of the communication methods experienced meant that participants also had to share parts of themselves. This is what I found confronting simply because it was a process which to fully appreciate and participate with, I had to step outside my disciplinary and cultural 'shield', my 'comfort zone'.

Reflection: I also realised that 'sharing' and 'storytelling' require a culturally safe space to do this in, for everyone. It also requires people willing to participate and respect cultural diversity and the lived experiences of others. A mutual understanding by participants about the 'rules of the space' people are entering need to be explicit while still allowing honest communication. Personal outcome.

As time elapses since the event, and despite my initial thoughts, I realised that the event provided a medium for reflection, deep thinking - it was a start of a process of communication and further learning, not an end in itself.

And finally, the most important part in my opinion: I feel the 'event' commenced many weeks in advance of the 'event date', with Lisa busily conversing with everyone that was to be involved and/or invited to the event. She was, in many ways, 'art in motion', a human 'modem' of communication; distilling conversations to the essential nuggets of 'truths' for each person and transmitting this back across her network. Her work, certainly in my opinion, expands boundaries; a powerful device for actualising connections and promoting communication.

From: Sean Walsh
To: Lisa Roberts
Subject: RE: Impacts of lens on Health
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2018 23:54:37 +0000


  Penny Ryan

I loved elements of the day - the opening session, getting to see microscopic creatures and experience the data arena screening (even if interrupted). I didn't have a feeling of cohesion, they remained separate elements with unclear linkages to the opening session or title of the day (though maybe this was intended). If you did it again or a next iteration it would be interesting to think about whether these linkages could /should be made clearer.

Re the data arena screening. The enticing images layering, moving, the music, the topography were all wonderful. But the lack of a clear narrative is hard for a text based person like me to get meaning from the journey (though your introduction and the day gave it some context). I'm not convinced that you need the surround of the data arena - it would have looked good on a single screen and could be as immersive in a darkened space or even with multiple hanging screens. The figure didn't quite work for me as it was unclear why it needed to be pulled in real time, so that felt a bit gimmicky (but again it might have been the difficult circumstances that disrupted it). I do think that there is so much imaginative work that is in this exploration - I love the collaboration but especially your capacity to inspire and bring it together with such beauty. Your krill animation was so beautiful - seeing it on a small computer screen so doesn't do it justice but a big screen shows its wonder.

Email Message
From: Penny Ryan
To: Lisa Roberts
Subject: RE: Documenting Lens on Health
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2018 07:53:01 +1000