In a small room beside an indoor basketball court, the digital age is colliding with ancient craftsmanship in the hands of the children of Aurukun. Aurukun’s carved wooden dogs enter digital space, augmented reality with new generation of artists.
This creative fusion is taking the remote town’s iconic wooden dog (Ku) sculptures and giving them life in a new dimension.
Inside the room, several sculptures — Ku and a tree with birds — have been scanned and made into virtual 3D models, which the children then draw on before they are projected into augmented reality.
Seventeen-year-old Jacqueline Kepple was among the young people at Aurukun’s PCYC who were able to use the augmented reality technology to virtually paint the sculptures.
The education program is part of a multi-year collaboration between the Aurukun Wik and Kugu Arts Centre and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
“This is the cockatoo, this is the galah, and this is a dog, and this is the tree,” Jacqueline said, showing her designs.
She said while she’d seen similar real-life sculptures, it was different seeing them on a tablet.
“I’m just doing it to make it look good,” she said.
The sculptures appearing in the 3D universe are part of the Art Gallery of NSW’s collection, and are displayed at its Yiribana Gallery in Sydney.
Generations of tradition
Mr Namponan says the sculptors feel connected to the Ku, with the town dogs often lazing in the workshop while the men carve.
“When we do a carve a Ku, the dogs come around and sit with us, we talk to them, and they sit down and relax,” he said.
Mr Namponan says he hopes the project will encourage young people to try traditional arts.
“More young people can come around and have a look and start doing camp dogs, so they can travel to the big cities like me,” he said.
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