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Collaborative local exhibition takes home 'Oscar of the internet'

Culture

A groundbreaking art exhibition created for the Queensland Eye Institute Foundation’s Last Seen exhibition has taken home an “Oscar of the internet” after winning a gong at this year’s Webby Awards.

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A voice component created as part of the Last Seen exhibition won the Webby, presented annually by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, in the “Apps, Mobile and Voice – Education and Reference” category last week.

The exhibition paired Australians who have been impacted by blindness or vision impairment with artists, who created paintings of their last significant memory before their vision started to deteriorate.

The voice skill developed as part of the exhibition housed soundscapes that accompanied each painting, with the soundscapes helping to recreate those poignant memories and bringing the paintings to life in sound.

It was conceived and developed collaboratively by The Studio at SCA, voice software experts Alkira and multinational advertising and public relations company Publicis Worldwide, and was designed to enhance the experience for visitors to the Last Seen exhibition, a fundraising initiative for QEIF that launched at QAGOMA and was shown at QPAC late last year.

Publicis Worldwide executive creative director Ryan Petie said: “Big ideas like Last Seen can only come to life through trusting collaborative partnerships – like Publicis Worldwide, SCA, Alkira and our production partners have demonstrated here.”

It was a sentiment echoed by the head of the Studio at SCA Brisbane, Jeanna Manifold, who told InQueensland, “so many people put so much work into this and they did it for reasons beyond recognition”.

“To actually get that recognition was really humbling, particularly for something that involved a number of companies, collaborating at that level, with software companies, creative agencies, media owners and not-for-profits.”

Artist and designer Col McElwaine partnered with singer-songwriter Peter Vance to bring one of his last vivid visions back to life.

Vance told of how he was invited to perform his song ‘The Torch Of Life’ during celebrations for the Sydney 2000 Olympics torch relay at Mt Coot-tha in Brisbane.

Vance recalled seeing thousands of smiling faces and feeling the buzz in the air and former Australian cricket team captain Allan Border coming on stage with the torch and lighting the cauldron

“Coming into it with this particular job I had an intentional focus to really take Peter’s lead, and try and put as little of myself in as possible,” McElwaine said. “Because it was Peter’s story and not really mine to tell, so I really tried to work as a bit of a facilitator, working with his story to make a true representation of it.”

Manifold said the simplicity at the core of the project was immediately appealing for her team.

“I think, simplicity can be really difficult – particularly in our day and age with multiple media platforms – to try and find something that will cut through because it just makes sense and it’s powerful enough on its own, that it doesn’t need bells and whistles.

“It just struck me straight away that this is something that we could amplify for [Publicis] in different ways, while still remaining true to their idea.”

McElwaine said his involvement in the project helped instill him with a new perspective about what it meant to be differently abled.

“There’s so much that everyone who is vision-impaired can do and their quality of life can be incredible,” McElwaine said.

“[Vance] is a man who is vision-impaired, but he does have this incredible life and he sounds like he’s got wonderful friends, family and hobbies and interests and chatting to him, it never felt like there was like a lot of negativity, it was really positive.

“Actually hearing Peter talk about his experiences was great because you know, Kate had achieved so much regardless of his impairment.”

Click here to hear and see more of the stories and art from Last Seen.

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