5 mins read 30 Nov 2019

Dark Matter Wonder: an art-science-Indigenous astronomy panel discussion

30 NOV 2019 | 4:00PM - 5:30PM
RMIT University, Melbourne

Panel discussion on how Dark Matter research, Indigenous Astronomy and art could all intersect with each other. 


Dark matter and dark energy is thought to make up ninety-five percent of the universe and is constantly passing through us and our planet. Research into dark matter will soon be undertaken at the Stawell Underground Physics Lab (SUPL) in Western Victoria. The Lab’s location one kilometre underground in the Stawell Gold Mine will provide necessary radiation shielding against background cosmic rays, with the research set to complement that undertaken in the northern hemisphere.

This panel discussion explores the potential of artistic research intersections with dark matter scientific research and Indigenous astronomical knowledge. The prospect of there being more dark matter in the cosmos than anything else is a lure for artistic poiesis and scientific hypothesis, whilst inviting deeper learning with Indigenous Australians’ wealth of continuing cultural knowledge of the night sky and stars. The enigma of unseen matter that we know to be there but yet is so difficult to directly detect compels creative research. How might we respond to the wonder that the universe inspires in this era of human-induced change on earth?

The discussion begins a program of wonderous creative research in relation to dark matter and Indigenous astronomy.

Tile image credit: NASA Goddard


Parbin-ata Carolyn Briggs AM is a Boon Wurrung senior elder and is the chairperson and founder of the Boon Wurrung Foundation. A descendant of the First Peoples of Melbourne, the Yaluk-ut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung, she is the great-granddaughter of Louisa Briggs. Carolyn has been involved in developing and supporting opportunities for Indigenous youth and Boon Wurrung culture for over 40 years, with significant work in cultural research, including restoration of the Boon Wurrung language, and authoring ‘Journey Cycles of the Boon Wurrung: Stories with Boonwurrung Language’.

Jeremy Mould is an Australian astronomer interested in galaxies and cosmology and the late stages of stellar evolution. He is a lead SUPL researcher who identified Stawell Gold Mine as a potential Lab site, and a chief investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics, working in the Dark Matter program. He was previously Director of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at ANU and the American National Optical Astronomy Observatories and is currently Professor at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University.

Lucy Bleach is a Tasmania based artist whose practice focuses on human’s enduring relationships to geologically volatile environments, seeking engagement with communities that experience such relationships, and researchers who monitor the earth’s movement. She works across sculptural objects, architectural forms, and geoacoustics within an installation-based approach to generate artworks where processes, forms, and actions are informed by geologic force and the resulting instability and transformation. Lucy has produced solo commissioned and collaborative works, exhibited nationally and internationally, and undertaken research projects in geologically unstable regions in Italy, Japan, Hawaii and Vanuatu.

Duane Hamacher researches cultural astronomy, Indigenous Astronomical Knowledge, Dark Sky studies, astronomical heritage, and the history and philosophy of science. He works closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia and Indigenous communities in Thailand, Central America, the USA, and Canada, and works to increase Indigenous representation in the astronomical and space sciences in Australia. He is Associate Professor of Cultural Astronomy in the ARC Centre of Excellence in All-Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) within School of Physics at the University of Melbourne.

Felipe Cervera has research interest in the interplays between theatre and performance theory with science and technology, as well as collaborative theatre-making and collaborative academia. He co-leads the Performance Studies Space Program (with Maaike Bleeker) and serves as Associate Editor of Performance Research and Global Performance Studies. He is a Lecturer of Theatre in the School of Dance and Theatre of LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore, and an Assistant Professor in the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies of the University of Toronto.


Janine Randerson, media artist, curator, creative practice researcher and Associate Professor at AUT Auckland University of Technology, author of Weather as Medium (MIT Press 2018), and host of Leonardo’s Auckland chapter of LASER talks (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous).

Mick Douglas, artist, curator, creative practice researcher and Associate Professor at RMIT University School of Design, founder of untitled station – an arts research hub on Djab Wurrung country in Western Victoria – whose work often involves processes and platforms for collaborative creative research, including Dark Matter Wonder.

Getting There

RMIT University Design
Design Hub lecture theatre - ground level north end
Corner Swanston & Victoria Streets
Melbourne, VIC

Tickets are available through the events management platform, Eventbrite