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Data Stratification

Credit: Joanne Thies

Robert Andrew (AU)

Data Stratification evolved from ideas of the tools and technologies that colonizers use to inhabit and disrupt the colonized in Australia, and to fragment these people and their culture. The artist sees text as one of these colonizing technologies. When you lose your language, strong links to communicate and oral methods to connect to your culture are severed.

Data Stratification displays different words and phrases on a small video screen. These words are English interpretations of the Yawuru language, an oral language spoken by the artist’s aboriginal ancestors. These words have been converted from the English text form into code. This G-code is used to drive a machine derived from a plotter or printer.

An X, Y axis machine, converts the code into four axes comprising 25 strings each. The machine traces each letter of the word; however, no visual representation of the letter is apparent unless the movement is carefully observed. This process removes the primacy of the English text in its visual translation. The final destination is four rows of objects hanging from the ceiling, each row behind the other. The landscapes are abstracted with no trace of the text that drives it.


This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. Data Stratification – a new work commissioned by Museum of Brisbane.