Living Data

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned
that this program contains images and voices of deceased persons.

Living Data

2020 Presentations

Disclaimers, Copyrights and Citations

Presentations/Index 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021

21 January 2020
Voices from the Southern Ocean
Animated installation for Mawson station, Antarctica

This is an old story.
Older than everything.

When the world was new, the lore was created,
and the whale and the serpent looked about
and saw the ocean.

I will look after the land because that is my home,
but who will look after the ocean? said the serpent.

I will look after all the salt water, said the whale,
because the fish and the turtles, the crabs and the weeds,
the coral and the caves all need care.

But you will need to return to the land every now and then,
said the serpent, to bring back your lore.

I will, said the whale. I will beach myself on the sand,
I will come back to the land to regurgitate the lore
so that the lore can be complete
and the land and the sea
can know each other.

Bruce Pascoe, 'Whale and Serpent' in 'Salt: Selected Stories and Essays', p.134. Pub. Black Inc. 2019


Early ancestors of the whale once walked on land...
These land-dwelling ancestors lived about 50 million years ago.

Katie Pavid, 'When whales walked on four legs' Pub. National History Museum, London, 8 August 2017


Living Data Seeding Treaties: Voices from the Southern Ocean

Voices from the Southern Ocean is key to Seeding Treaties that evolve through mutually beneficial relationships.
The first voice is from the Whales that journey to Antarctica and around Australia.
Living Data Seeding Treaties Voices come from diverse languages
of Indigenous and Western arts and sciences.

This project evolves through conversations with co-creators:
Cat Kutay, Claire Sives, Katherina Petrou, Lynden Nicholls,
Maddison Gibbs, Paul Fletcher and Tiriki Onus.
We are guided by our readings and interactions with Indigenous and Western scientists and artists.
Guides include Carmel Bird, Aunty Frances Bodkin, William Gladstone, Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison,
Chels Marshall, Helen Milroy, Bruce Pascoe, Tyson Yunkaporta, Megan Williams,
and the lands and waterways we are a part of.

VISIT THE PROJECT WEBSITE to see details, and to track its progress.

Seeding Treaties begins at Mawson station in Antarctica.
Animations are played to welcome the whales.
Whales that have come here for tens of thousands of years to feed on krill and other things,
and so perpetuate life as we know it on earth,
maintaining Balance between Plants and Animals
and other creatures that defy categorisation in European language
and knowledge systems.


The Living Data installation for Mawson station, Antarctica.
Design by Paul Fletcher, Lisa Roberts and Ken Wilson, inspired by the primal forms
of the sea urchin and traditional Aboriginal meeting house made of whale bones.


Before the HMS Aurora Australis leaves next month for Mawson station, Antarctica, I record the 'Living Data Immersible' in action.
Here you can see animations with art and data from many scientists and other artists,
and you can hear '5ths', music improvised by Jason Benedek.


Visualisation of the human-scale de-mountable vessel being made to travel
and to hold Living Data animations, presentations and workshops.


The purpose of the project is to inspire and inform people to tell their own stories of relationship to the natural world. I work with scientists and other artists to make and present animations, performances, installations, picture books and an interactive game, to give voice to ocean creatures and their relatives on land. Voices of creatures are evoking knowledge that comes from Indigenous and Western cultures, as people listen and respond to stories told through languages of the arts and sciences, and feed their responses back into the project to inspire and inform further understanding of our paths as part of nature.

The project was seeded in Antarctica in 2002 when I was working as an artist on an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship, drawing, painting and animating as I listened to scientists describe the natural cycles of climate change. One day I stood on rock near Mawson station and experienced the past, present and future as an evolving continuum. In that moment I knew that my purpose is to share knowledge of our selves as part of nature and that animation is my language for learning and passing on knowledge. I met my partner in Antarctica and came to live with him in Sydney. There I embarked on Aboriginal Studies at Eora College and reconnected with my Aboriginal family in Victoria. I then completed a PhD in Media Arts that resulted in recognition of the animated primal forms (circling, spiraling, crossing) as connectors between scientific data and subjective responses. The primal forms desrcribe both natural forces and personal feelings of connection to these same forces, or energies. I then began the Living Data program to explore the similar and different ways we understand the living world, as scientists and as artists.

Voices from the Southern Ocean was inspired by a 2019 residency at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) laboratories in Tasmania where I Barkindji artist Maddison Gibbs met Euphausia superba (Andtarctic krill) and heard scientists explain the their central role in ocean health. The project is our response to two challenges cast to us by scientists at the AAD: firstly, to create an animation to mark the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty that conveys the true meaning of treaties as agreements people make to live together well; secondly, to develop a Living Data project to culminate in 2022 with the publication of the IPCC Report and leading into the Global Stocktake of nations' progress in achieving the 2015 Paris Agreement to take strong action on climate change. We were aware that 2019 was the International Year of Indigenous Languages, and so this work celebrates the arts as languages we use naturally to learn and pass on knowledge, just as Aboriginal ancestors worldwide once used.

Guided by Indigenous and Western knowledge holders, Whale leads a journey of understanding relationships between creatures from the sea and the land.

The online interface MEASO Living Data invites and maps stories that together build a Big Picture of relationships needed for health and well-being of individuals, communities and the planet.

Lisa Roberts, February 2022

What is the first plant to appear after the ice has melted?

Frances Bodkin tellshow Talara'tingi, the flannel flower (Actinotus helianthi), came to be.

Animations are for people everywhere to play to celebrate whales, krill and our other ancient relatives, and to inspire you to create and share your own animated stories.

Animations are freely shared by Living Data, with contributions from scientists and artists at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), Eora TAFE (Eora), University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Designs for paper cut-out krill and whales are for you to make and play with. (They make excellent characters for stop-motion animation.) Responses to our animations may be music, drawing, writing, photos, video and animation. Please send us things you are happy for us to feed back into the project as it travels around Australia. CONTACT LIVING DATA

We hope that between us we can spread more knowledge and care of Antarctica and its messages of relationships for global health.




Total length: 00:42:00

Title: Krill Sex Twice: Once I turned my back on you
Length: 00:00:00 - 00:03:48
Creators: Voice, Rebecca Stuart.
Science, So Kawaguchi et al. (AAD).
Animation / production, Lisa Roberts.

Title: When our voices are censored, our spirits make noise
Length: 00:03:48 - 00:05:01
Creators: Images and words, Rebecca Gibbs.
Whale sonographs, Brian Miller (AAD).
Animation / production, Lisa Roberts.

Title: River song
Length: 00:05:01 - 00:06:02
Creators: Photos, Lynden Nicholls.
Music, Claire Sives (UNSW, UTS).
Animation / production, Lisa Roberts.

Title: Whale in global sea ice
Length: 00:06:02 - 00:06:55
Creators: Drawing, Ancestor whale. Sound, Jack Colwell.
Animation / production, Lisa Roberts.

Title: The Invisible Committee Silent Reading - I find this soggy book in a Newtown street
Length: 00:06:55 - 00:08:35
Animation / Sound / Production, Lisa Roberts.

Title: The Patterns we make
Length: 00:08:35 - 00🕛 58
Creators: Images & sounds, Paul Fletcher (VCA)
inspired by East Coast Tasmania and Bruny Island,
and Tyson Yunkaporta's book, "Sand talk"

Title: This one’s for the ocean cause it sings us to sleep
Length: 00🕛 58 - 00:14:03
Creators: Animation & Sound, Shirin Shakhesi (VCA).
Setar Improvisation, Alireza Faroukhzadi.

Title: Voice from the sea floor
Length: 00:14:03 - 00:14:32
Creator: Animation student, (VCA).

Title: Snakes and fish
Length: 00:14:32 - 00:15:06
Creator: Animation student, (VCA).

Title: Man, fish, ocean
Length: 00:15:06 - 00:15:36
Creators: Animation student, (VCA).

Title: Consumerism and the Sea
Length: 00:15:36 - 00:16:03
Creator: Quince Franks, Animation student, (VCA).

Title: Fish scale
Length: 00:16:03 - 00:16:19
Creator: Animation student, (VCA).

Title: Seeding Treaty: Talara'tingi (Flannel Flower)
signals us to follow the words of the young
Length: 00:16:19 - 00:19:00
Creators: Animation / production, Lisa Roberts et al.

Title: Seeding Treaty: Barkindji Story -
Ngatji (Rainbow serpents) and Thirri (pee-wee birds)
creating the Darling River
Length: 00:19:00 - 00:23:00
Creators: Words, animation, Maddison Gibbs.
Performane art, Bonita Ely et al.
Electron Microscopy, Ruth Ericsen (AAD, CSIRO)
Music: Piano, Farrah Sa’adullah. Voice/violin, Eric Avery.
Animation / production, Lisa Roberts et al.

Title: Spirit Warning
Length: 00:23:00 - 00:24:43
Creators: Artwork, Marilyn Torrens & Paul Davis (Eora).
Music, Alison O’Carroll
Animation / Production, Lisa Roberts et al.

Title: Conserving
Length: 00:24:43 - 00:33:00
Creators: Animation / Production, Lisa Roberts et al.

Title: Dark Mother
Length: 00:33:00 - 00:34:15
Creators: Animator, Bonnie McAlister (VCA)

Title: Antarctic Energies
Length: 00:34:15 - 00:42:00
Creators: Piano improvisation, Farrah Sa’adullah.
Animation / Production, Lisa Roberts et al.