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Australian born, London-based multidisciplinary artist Dr Christian Thompson has been announced as the recipient of the $80,000 Mordant Family VR Commission for his proposed work Bayi Gardiya (Singing Desert).

Singing in his traditional Bidjara language, a tongue that has been recognised as extinct, Thompson will invite his audience to walk through the landscape of his childhood in the artist’s first virtual reality piece, which will examine notions of identity, language, place and memory.

Presented by ACMI and the City of Melbourne, the Mordant Family VR Commission is open to mid-career and established visual artists and aims to move gallery-based practitioners into the arresting medium of virtual reality with the intent of encouraging experimentation that will push the limits of technology and engage audiences in new ways.

“The imagination and quality of the proposals we received was extraordinary… Catriona and I are excited by the enthusiasm shown by such an established artist to engage with VR technology to further develop his artistic practice and can’t wait to see the work shown at ACMI, Australia’s only institution dedicated to film and digital culture and art,” said Simon Mordant AM.

In addition to financial support, Thompson will receive expert advice from ACMI in the development phase, as well as a workspace in ACMI’s co-working studio for the screen industries, ACMI X.

This year’s winning commission was selected by a panel of national and international industry experts including Rebecca Coates, Director of the Shepparton Art Museum; leading futurist, author and entrepreneur, Mark Pesce; Director of Cultural Development at Centre Pompidou in Paris, Kathryn Weir; ACMI Chief Experience Officer, Seb Chan; and ACMI Senior Curator Sarah Tutton. The panel was co-chaired by Simon Mordant AM and ACMI CEO and Director Katrina Sedgwick.

Bayi Gardiya (Singing Desert) will be presented to the public and an edition will be added to ACMI’s permanent collection.

Mordant Family VR Commission