Tara Morelos is the Director of dLux Media Arts (dLux), one of Australia’s longest running screen and media arts organisations. dLux works with a range of artists, writers & curators, to present projects from the screening of single channel video art to multi-channel installations and interactive and locative media for mobile devices. Morelos worked as a graphic designer in the corporate sector before going on to study Sculpture, Performance and Installation at Sydney College of the Arts. Morelos is also the Director of Sculpture in the Vineyards.
Interview by Alex Bellemore
How important is the role of learning at dLux?
dLux is organisationally familiar with change, shape shifting to meet the needs of its community and gaining enormous social capital in the process. As staff we are constantly learning and meeting the challenges of working, firstly within the not for profit arts sector and secondly within an organisation tasked with being cutting edge. It’s very hands on and particularly with our regional partners we had taken on the informal role as educators within an emerging field of exhibition practice as galleries began wanting to show more video and interactive works within their programs.
dLux has a strong emphasis on touring and rural education initiatives, what learning strategies do you put in place when approaching communities with limited exposure to digital media practice or broadly the arts sector?
By demystifying simple technologies for galleries and regional audiences through delivering a well supported touring program of media-orientated works we began to better understand the needs of the sector.
By using digital storytelling and technology we found a way to strongly influence the way people see themselves and break down existing barriers to learning. As a specialist media arts organisation, dLux is able to utilise an array of digital technologies to capture the imagination of new audiences putting the web, open source software and other information and communication technologies (ICT) to cost effective use in regional communities. In 2011 dLux became a social enterprise of the iStreet Lab phenomenon. Working with mervin Jarman, Jamaican community art activist and human computer interface expert we built the iStreet dLux Lab. As part of the dStudio program, the iStreet dLux Lab extends its reach into the exploration of creative art practice for artists and communities alike.
Do you think that screen/ digital media art is represented well in the arts sector, in terms of awareness and funding?
In my experience, there is a general reluctance in the world of contemporary art to engage meaningfully with digital and new media art practice, social networking, or gaming. Yet these are some of the largest and fastest-growing areas of culture today. There is a tendency to largely dismiss media arts without fully appreciating the theoretical richness or conceptual parallels it has with more established art forms. Since the dismantling of New Media Arts Board in 2004, the Inter Arts Office of the Australia Council is doing its best on a very small budget to encourage the development of new media and multi-platform culture. It can be a problematic area for these kinds of agencies due to its potential to straddle the art and industry divide. dLux has often fallen through these cracks. We have now begun to look more consistently outside the arts funding pool, though gratefully acknowledge the continued core support of our partners Arts NSW.
dLux was established in the 1980’s under another name The Super 8 – Film Group, how has the organisation changed from then to now?
dLux Media Arts remains a small and resilient organisation with a clearly defined role within the Australian cultural sector known for supporting and developing risky projects in an experimental environment. We retain a direct link to our maverick experimental screen origins as the Sydney Super-8 Film Group, whose films constituted a construction of a particular social and political memory of a specific historical time period, 1980-1990. We have an archive of every work shown since the 1980s through the 90s and up to recent projects including digital versions of films, lists of all the screenings and works, all the writings and artists details from the last 30 years.
What are some upcoming projects and goals for dLux?
We recently received an Unlocking Australia’s Potential science communication grant for dLab, our regional access and skills development program. Over three years and four primary regional locations, we will be working predominantly with young women from culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal backgrounds to engage in research and science activities. Using local culturally relevant resources and an informal creative methodology, participants will create their own mobile multi media dLab for community use. We have ambitious plans to further boost and diversify our funding, increase our audiences, consolidate our brand by offering new services on the commercial market. By maximising the talents of our artist communities we plan to move thoughtfully into servicing a growing demand within the commercial sector for authentic cultural products in app development and exhibition management. The future is bright!