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TRACES: an audio-visual installation honouring 60,000+ years of storytelling

Thu, Aug 11, 2022

Magabala Books recently teamed up with Google Creative Lab to present TRACES, a voice-to-art-experience launched at the Sydney Opera House.

TRACES began two years ago when Google’s Creative Lab approached Magabala to ask “How can technology help to enhance and amplify First Nations Storytelling?”. What emerged was a collaborative and experimental project and partnership.

Through workshops hosted by Google with Gunai writer Kirli Saunders, and Ballardong Noongar, Nimunburr and Yawuru artist Kamsani Bin Salleh, a digital voice-to-art installation that honours 60,000+ years of oral storytelling was created.


TRACES was born in the pandemic, when we wanted to connect to Country but couldn't. It brings stories of Country to life, drawing palettes from the landscape, and the sun's passage from east to west – honouring the seasons and First Nations sovereignty from time immemorial.

With artwork by Kamsani Bin Salleh and poetry by Kirli Saunders, as well as audience participation, TRACES gives voice to Country in real time. Taking audio signals like pace, volume and pitch, TRACES unfurls in response to voice, with the imagery regenerating for every performance. TRACES symbolises that while our stories may differ we are all connected, through Country.

We showcased TRACES at Vivid LIVE 2022 in the Sydney Opera House in May. Across three nights, we presented poetry and spoken word performances from Dub Leffler, Nardi Simpson, Teela Reid, Daniel Browning, Dakota FeirerJasmine Seymour, Kirli Saunders and Kamsani Bin Salleh. Amid the busy crowds of Vivid LIVE, TRACES was a powerful space of quiet reflection, pause and First Nations storytelling.


Many thanks to the Google team for going on this journey with us, this is such a special project for Magabala. Many thanks to Kirli Saunders and Kamsani Bin Salleh for your creative magic. As our Director Edie Wright says:

"If the Old People were here today, they would be fascinated and they would trust that we are doing the right thing with Country and Culture."

Read more on the Google Australia Blog > TRACES: A First Nations voice-to-art experience honouring 60,000+ years of storytelling