River Connections

  • 2020

  • Digital
    Game Design and Animation

Designed By:

Commissioned By:

Museums Victoria

Designed In:


River Connections is a bespoke, immersive film that submerges students in First Peoples’ perspectives of Country. Made in collaboration with First Peoples Elders and artists Larry Walsh, Esther Kirby, Brendan Kennedy and Consultant Curator, Genevieve Grieves, the film was developed through deep listening sessions and visiting Country.

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  • Melbourne Museum tasked Grumpy Sailor to create an innovative and inspiring education space that connects the Museum’s experiences and stories with digital technologies and 21st century learning. The challenge was to create a media work that immerses students in deep listening at the beginning of each workshop, mentally and emotionally preparing them for the creative program ahead, while simultaneously inviting them to engage with concepts of sustainability. Within this context, the challenge was not to make a stand-alone didactic tool, but a catalyst for contemplation and discussion - a starting point to explore ideas within a supported and engaging learning environment.

  • The 27-meter wide immersive animation is designed to engage students in First Peoples’ experience of Country and inspire their imagination. A concept that the elders regularly brought to the surface was the connection of all things. This motif is visualised with flowing lines that depict ever-changing subjects, morphing from one form into another. Great care was taken to ensure the work is a reflection of the lands it depicts. The film's subjects were modelled on photographs captured on Country, while the film's colours were sampled directly from the recorded pixels, creating a work that feels distinctly ‘of place’.

  • Students are enthralled by the experience and engage deeply in meaningful discussions about its subject matters. These include the roles, history and perspective of Australia’s First Peoples; environmental, cultural and economic sustainability; storytelling and point of view in filmmaking; and First Peoples’ concepts of deep listening. We also believe that the ‘design impact’ of this project extends beyond the western method of assessing design by studying its end result. The design process of collaborating with the First Peoples group, engaging in deep listening and visiting Country have deep and lasting reconciling effects that resonate through and beyond the resulting work.

  • The digital animation was created for a bespoke 27-meter wide infinity projection space, spanning three walls and the floor, with a resolution of over 10k in width. This is realised using 8 projectors and a custom 14.1 channel speaker arrangement, including speakers for the screens, ceiling and rear surrounds.