Project Leader

Mark Temple, Western Sydney University

Status

Active

Background

Myrtle rust impacts the flora and ecosystems across the east coast of Australia. Visual impact of the disease includes yellow spores on plant foliage, defoliation, death of plants and invasive with exotic plants. Through engagement with indigenous artists we will represent the impact of myrtle rust on native bush tucker and culturally sacred plants and landscapes, to increase awareness in both indigenous and non-indigenous communities. Indigenous cultures use spoken language, music and art to share knowledge. Through engagement and sharing of science data we aim to create beautiful art and music for education and community awareness.

Progress

This project is using non-traditional research outputs to promote awareness of Myrtle Rust and it’s impacts for community. Science data on Myrtle Rust is being used to make original creative works in both music and painting and these works are being curated to produced public exhibitions and events. Indigenous artists will play a central role in the artistic processes. These public events consist of live music performance, recording of original music and exhibition of painted artworks.

Five genome sequences from Myrtle Rust have been sonified and MIDI data from these have been imported into a Digital Audio Workstation. A variety of musical instruments have been assigned to the multi-layers of sonified audio data to make these sound more musical. In preparation for presenting these to the musicians, drums have added to these to contextualise a rhythm and tempo.

Link to work-in-progress music compositions derived from Austropuccinia psidii

I am in the process of rehearsing to these pieces in a rehearsal studio with an ensemble of seven other musicians. We are working towards a live performance to be held during National Science Week, on Aug 18th 2022. This performance will be held at “Cell Block Theatre” at National Art School, and it will include tracks generated from Myrtle Rust data. I am currently running a social media campaign to promote the event for impact. The event will be documented for later sharing on social media.

Link to National Science Week event.

On completion, these tracks are to be recorded in a professional studio to create a media recording that will be completed later in the year and will be available long after the duration of the project. Indigenous musical instrumentation will be a perfect accompaniment to these base tracks. It is hoped that these will continue to gain interest in the Myrtle Rust narrative and be made available on various streaming music services and free servers for years to come.

Regarding the commissioning of Indigenous art for later exhibition at Botanical Garden spaces, the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative have expressed enthusiasm to accept the commission.

The combination of music and art at the final exhibition events at the Botanical Gardens will bring together the two streams of outreach art as non-traditional research outputs that can be appreciated not just by the scientific community but by the wider community. Media generated by these events will also provide engaging media for post event promotion of the art and the Myrtle Rust narrative.

I have also begun discussions The Conversation and other media outlets regarding how this combination of science and art could feature in a media post. I have also talked to a science reporter from the LA Times in this regard and I am waiting with anticipation the publication of this story.