Child of Now is a mixed-reality artwork that calls on citizens to co-create, shape, and nurture an indigenized, sustainable, and fairer vision of the next century for an imagined child born in 2023.
Experienced as an immersive tactile audio-visual installation, Child of Now invites visitors to enter the Aboriginal concept of the ‘everywhen,’ a place where all time is present, to observe the last 10,000 years of life on the Birrarung river and acknowledge the resilience of First Nations peoples who survived climate emergencies and settler invasion. The experience continues by inviting visitors to imagine all the children being born in the present moment, now. It then accelerates time to the year in the future that the Child of Now is the visitor’s age. In this moment the artwork asks the visitor to imagine themselves as, and to become, the Child of Now in the future. It creates a portrait of their performance as audio and ‘digital hologram’ (volumetric video) recordings. Each holographic portrait of the visitor as the Child of Now is replayed in the final section of the experience: a VR archive set beneath the river where all the Children of Now are located in age order in the stream of time.
Collectively, visitors crowd-source the ‘future archive’ of the Child of Now’s life, populating each day from birth to death, with a body in the form of diverse holographic portraits. The novel approach to volumetric video data, as well as other biodata, informs a symbiotic collective portrait of the current population in the process of imagining the lives of those who inherit our society. The project aspires to democratize and increase participation in future thinking by fostering accessible new tools at the intersection of art, science, and demographics.
A first stage development of Child of Now was launched in Melbourne in February 2022 with ongoing development through 2023 and 2024.
Child of Now Team:
Concept, director, Co-writer: Robert Walton
Creative producer: Julianne Pierce
Writer: Claire G Coleman
Technical artist: Phoria
Composition and sound design: Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey
Environment design: Anna Tregloan
Lighting design: Richard Gorr
Volumetric capture system by Dr Andrew Irlitti (University of Melbourne), Professor Frank Vetere (University of Melbourne), and Associate Professor Thuong Hoang (Deakin University).
Executive Producer Arts Centre Melbourne with support from the University of Melbourne.
Uncle Jack Charles and Tahlee Fereday / The Voice of I-ME
Future Advisors: Jax Jacki Brown, Janice Florence, Lorna Hannan, Mitch Mahoney
The feasibility study for Child of Now was funded by Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne, Arts Centre Melbourne, University of Melbourne.
The Child of Now Prototype was funded by the School of Computing and Information Systems and the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at University of Melbourne, working in partnership with Arts Centre Melbourne. With additional support from Phoria.
Robert Walton (AU) is an artist and director whose work includes theater, choreography, installation, writing, and interactive art. At University of Melbourne he leads the creation of performance artworks that explore the expressive potential of ancient and emerging technologies in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.
Julianne Pierce (AU) has extensive leadership experience as a Creative Producer, Executive Director, Curator and Arts Manager in the Australian and international arts and culture sector. She is a founding member of the influential cyberfeminist digital artist group VNS Matrix, who formed in 1991 and continue to have their work included in significant exhibitions and publications worldwide.
Claire Coleman (AU) is a Noongar woman whose family have belonged to the south coast of Western Australia since long before history started being recorded. She writes fiction, essays, poetry, and art criticism while either living in Naarm (Melbourne) or on the road.
What will we pass on to the next generation? For those of us living in the present, it is crucial to have a future-oriented mindset that considers those who will live in the next era. The Child of Now project has the potential to bring about a significant social impact by addressing global challenges based on unique linguistic and environmental history, starting from the Australian experience with a possibility for further regional development. Referring to the concept of ‘everywhen’ and collaborating with the First Nations and author Claire G. Coleman for creating the storytelling, the artists built an immersive experience. Through the use of the volumetric capture system, the “digital holograms” created can be experienced in a VR environment. In this way, the project enables people to know the past and see the future through an installation, providing an important opportunity for individuals to think about their personal situation.