Indigenous peoples in the central Australian desert have been making use of video, television, satellite and digital technologies for the last 30 years. As a UK based ‘community video’ activist in the 1980s I became fascinated by the (eventually successful) campaign by the indigenous media organisation CAAMA to win the television license for the AUSSAT Central Australian footprint - which (in theory) enabled indigenous communities to control how television was used and seen within this footprint: an apparent victory against European ‘cultural imperialism’, in favour of local, indigenous ‘cultural maintenance’. As a result, in the early 1990s, I went to Australia to co-produce (with CAAMA) a Channel 4 film (Satellite Dreaming) about Aboriginal uses of video and television.
In the end, the results of CAMMA’s victory have been much more nuanced than this simple ‘resistance model’ indicates: for instance, the channel that they set up – Imparja TV – was and still is unable to show very much Aboriginal programming because of commercial pressures.
I returned to Alice Springs to do more research in October/November 2011, exploring these nuances in more depth, twenty years on, and am currently (2014) planning another trip. There remain current tensions and conflicts around aesthetics and access to resources in Indigenous media circles, a situation that is inflected by the different (and in many ways more reactionary) national political policies in relation to indigenous peoples in Australia, particularly in remote areas.
This site is dedicated to exploring this work and providing a focus for information and debate.