Image: Australian service personnel in Afghanistan.
Original Published Date: 
Monday, April 24, 2017

Scientia Professor Dennis Del Favero from The University of New South Wales led the production of ‘Retrospect: War, Family, Afghanistan’—an interactive online, television, radio and cinema work that explores the relationship between the experiences of Afghanistan veterans and their families. The 2012 ARC Linkage Project used cutting-edge visual technology to communicate the experience of war using modern day forms of digital communication.

A research team led by Scientia Professor Dennis Del Favero based at The University of New South Wales has created a interactive multi-platform work that uses cutting-edge visual technology to explore new ways to communicate and understand the collective experiences and memories of war.

Bringing together expertise in the visual/media arts, artificial intelligence along with military history, with the active participation of defence personnel and their families “Retrospect: War, Family Afghanistan” was presented on ABC online, radio and television and at Melbourne Museum to mark Remembrance Day in November 2016.  

The project, which was a world first in interactivity, and archiving war stories, aimed to reformulate war memories as an interactive narrative.

“The project's significance is that it builds upon the fundamental shifts that networked communication has effected on the nature of military correspondence,” says Professor Del Favero.

“The current generation of defence personnel do not produce the array of letters between themselves and families upon which so much of the archives of pre-21st century conflicts have been based. Emails and internet postings of post-1990 conflicts, not being systematically archived, have all but vanished.

“The experiences of the 55,000 Australian veterans from Somalia, Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, are thus surrounded by a negligible memorial culture. Through its artistic technology, the project facilitates the presentation of personal and collective experience of conflict in a form that is interactively accessible to a broad online, radio and TV, and cinematic public.”

Using unseen footage from the conflict in Afghanistan, the project is designed to help us understand what the men and women of the Australian defence forces are experiencing on the ground in conflicts overseas, and the impact that service has on their families.

Online, radio, television and museum visitors gained access to a vast digital database of veteran and family memories that could be explored across a range of experiential platforms created by the research team.

“Overall, the project was extremely well received by its broadcast and cinematic audiences and now forms the basis for a more extensive exploration of the Afghanistan war experience with the Australian War Memorial Canberra,” says Professor Del Favero.

Photo credit: 

Credit: Image credit: ABC Archives