Day 1, Stream 5


Paul Thomas: College of Fine Arts, University of NSW, Australia


Catherine Fargher: Dr Egg Digital, Australia

Dani Wiessner: Dr Egg Digital, Australia

Zina Kaye: Holly, Sydney/ Dr Egg Digital, Australia

Grant Stevens: Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Brad Tober: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States



Catherine Fargher, Dani Wiessner, Zina Kaye & Maia Horniak: Kids exploring ethical choices in unnatural biologies

Dr Egg Digital is creating cutting edge interactive children’s entertainment with a twist. Exploring biotech science and ethics, this trans-media project seeks to engage kids via embedded gaming mechanics and animation within an interactive storyworld. Based on the prize winning, internationally successful theatre show Dr Egg and The Man With No Ear, the interactive storybook app is set in a fantastical interactive laboratory.

The Dr Egg interactive storyworld explores cloning and genetic modification through the eyes of three young characters. The stories have strong educational and cross-platform potential extending into interactive publications, TV episodes/webisodes, mobile cross-platform apps, and games. Originally dramaturged by SymbioticA’s leading Science-Art practitioner Dr Ionatt Zurr, the work references real scientific and ethical dilemmas, such as therapeutic stem cell technologies, cloning, xeno-transplantation and ethical laboratory practices.

The interactive storybook/browser allows the largely 8-13 year old audience to explore the story as well as interact with animated and gaming elements. The main user experience whilst gaming will be to ‘collect’ objects such as seeds or body parts, making ethical choices about creation and destruction, encouraging scientific investigation around systematic collecting and ethical decision-making. The Literature and Inter-Arts boards of the Australia Council have funded the writing of interactive pathways and production of the multi media assets.

Can children learn about ethical choices while they play games? OR do they want to play with mutant creations just to have fun and destroy the bad guys? How do we run market tests that reflect both entertainment value and explore ethical responses?

In this creative presentation Dr Egg Digital creative director and writer Catherine Fargher, trans media project manager Dani Wiessner, screen director Maia Horniak, script editor Gina Roncoli and game developer Zina Kaye discuss market testing, educational strategies and Linean collection systems as a means of getting kids into ethics.


Grant Stevens  Teaching Digital Media to Digital Natives

Today, the majority of undergraduate students are ‘digital natives’; a generation born into a world shaped by digital technologies. Growing up with digital technologies has significant implications not only for how these students learn, but also for how they engage with the visual environment. These shifts are particularly pertinent when considering how to teach ‘digital media’ to Visual Arts students who are seemingly already highly literate in digital and visual technologies. Like other ‘digital natives’, for many of these students, consuming, creating and participating in popular visual culture is almost ‘second nature’. Yet, these students often struggle to reflect on and articulate their creative and critical relationships to their increasingly pervasive visual context. Furthermore, by undertaking higher education in the field, these students seemingly intend to become creative professionals; more sophisticated than their fellow digital natives to whom ‘prosuming’ also comes easily. This paper examines the concept of visual literacy in the context of teaching digital media to digital natives. By drawing on a range of literature from visual studies, art theory and pedagogical theory, it suggests that a key challenge in developing visually literate creative professions is to engage students ‘knowingly’ in their existing literacies. Rather than look solely to what students say about their learning, this paper also looks to what students create for traces of how visual literacies can be shaped by such pedagogical strategies.


Brad Tober  In Transition: Effectively Mapping the Traditional Pedagogical Media of Art and Design to the Digital Realm

Guiding students in both thoughtful and proficient engagement with digital media as a mode of practice is hardly a new concept for art and design pedagogy. What is new, however, is a transformational role of digital media that positions it as an avenue for teaching art and design principles, and not solely as media through which art and design work can be executed. While relevant across an undergraduate art and design curriculum, the importance of this role is increasingly being recognized in relation to art and design foundational studies. The resultant efforts, such as Digital Foundations, a textbook by xtine burrough and Michael Mandiberg that “uses formal exercises of the Bauhaus to teach the Adobe Creative Suite” (, represent a step in the right direction, but are not fully aware of both the current educational environment (valuable time spent on purely software-based instruction in the classroom is time that could arguably be better spent on exploring the broader conceptual issues of making digital work) and the potential of emerging technologies.

Rather, this transformational role of digital media calls for a more comprehensive integration of code-based technologies, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Processing/Java, openFrameworks/C++, and Objective-C, into art and design pedagogy. This connection seems natural, as many of the commonly identified principles of design, including emphasis/hierarchy, economy, and rhythm/repetition, could also be characterized as principles of code. Besides reaping the cognitive benefits associated with learning a language, a focus on promoting engagement with the tools used to create software (rather than simply on the use of software applications themselves) serves to empower students as they develop critical awareness of both the discipline and their individual practices.