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NMA: Science meets spirit in dramatic virtual reality experience

19 Sep 2017

Collisions is an extraordinary virtual reality (VR) experience which takes visitors on a journey to the land of Indigenous elder Nyarri Nyarri Morgan and the Martu tribe in the remote Western Australian desert.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Lynette Wallworth, Collisions premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and World Economic Forum, Davos, and was recently nominated for the 38th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards.

Science meets spirit in this thought-provoking, immersive journey in which Nyarri shares his story of dramatic collision between his traditional world-view and his experience of nuclear testing at Maralinga in the South Australian desert in the 1950s.

Senior Indigenous Curator Margo Neale said Collisions, presented in conjunction with the Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters exhibition, was an important historic and cultural story told in a truly immersive way.

‘Nyarri Morgan is the husband of Nola Taylor, one of the leading advisory voices on the Songlines curatorium. This is a film that bridges cultures and time.

‘The legacy of Collisions is that an almost forgotten event in the Australian desert is burnt into the global memory,’ Ms Neale said.

Lynette Wallworth said she first heard of Nyarri’s story four years ago on a hunting trip with the Martu women painters in the Western Desert.

‘Hearing that I had been to Maralinga where Britain tested atomic bombs in the 1950s, Nyarri’s wife Nola turned to me with what felt like an instruction ... “You have to talk to Nyarri”.

‘A year later I did just that and I heard a short powerful parable that Nyarri had waited almost his entire life to share. It is a technological message in a bottle,’ she said.

In the 18-minute VR experience, visitors can feel the sensation of a nuclear test and the rush of an oncoming mushroom cloud, ride on the back of a ute into Australia’s deserts and watch the expression on Nyarri’s face as he listens to Dr Robert Oppenheimer, who developed the atomic bomb, talk about the impact of nuclear testing on the world.

Find out more

Visit the National Museum of Australia website to view the original media release.