Natural heritage conservation and eco-digital poiesis: A Western Australian example
Media International Australia
Swinburne University of Technology
School of Communication and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
A city of biodiversity, Perth in Western Australia faces significant environmental challenges. As species and habitats vanish, so too can their biocultural heritage. To address biological and cultural decline, FloraCultures is a digital conservation initiative that uses archival, ethnographic and design approaches to conserve and promote Perth's ‘botanical heritage’. This article examines the project's conceptual foundations in terms of nature/culture, tangible/intangible and thinking/making dualisms, as well as some of the practical strategies used to address these dualisms. To articulate biocultural heritage, I have had to rethink categorical oppositions through ecopoiesis – the making of interactive digital objects as informed by ecological discourses. The repository being developed will incorporate cultural materials (texts, visual art, interview recordings, music and video) not conventionally associated with environmental conservation. Key community-building approaches, such as focus groups and crowdsourcing, discussed later in the article, provide digitally based interventions into biocultural heritage loss that reflect the ecopoietic basis of FloraCultures.