Symposium: Media, publics and the past

Monday 20 February 2017, 1.30–5.30pm Powerhouse Museum

What stories can media archives and artefacts tell us, and how can we make use of them?

Historians, producers and curators discuss alternative histories of the press, photography, music, advertising and television. This session will introduce you to some surprising and unique collections and resources and reveal the hidden histories of ordinary objects such as the VCR and the Walkman. Presenters will reflect on how their projects address gaps in the record and explore the ways that items such as diaries and personal papers can make connections between the private and the public. You’ll hear about the questions that these media histories pose for examinations of the past in the digital world, and get a chance to discuss your own media and history projects.

Contact Justine Lloyd via for more information

1.30 – 2.15 pm – Session 1 Keynote
2.15 – 3.30 pm – Panel 1: Inside media archives and organisations
3.30 – 4.00 pm – Break
4.00 – 5.00 pm – Panel 2: Alternative histories of media
5.00 – 5.30 pm – Final session: The Great Strike film: piecing together the archive trail from 1917
5.30 pm – Networking/drinks at nearby pub


Keynote: Deb Masters, Executive Producer, Australian Story, ABC Television Killer Archive
Long-time ABC television producer Deb Masters will take you through the making of the three-part series The Killing Season, a gripping examination of Labor during the turbulent Kevin Rudd / Julia Gillard leadership years. Almost 2000 hours of original media archival material was combed through to find the unfiltered account of what happened. Masters argues that for media archive to have an impact, the producer has to see the archive as important a storytelling tool as the research interview, and to intimately know every frame.

Panel 1: Inside media archives and organisations
Chris Arneil, Curatorial Officer, Radio, NFSA Making Waves: Curating Gaywaves at the National Film and Sound Archive
Campbell Bickerstaff, Curator, MAAS Media Technologies and Sound Histories
Associate Professor Robert Crawford, School of Communication; Co-Director, Australian Centre for Public History, UTS Reimagining Sydney’s Streetscapes: The Rousel Studios archives
Genevieve Dashwood, PhD Candidate, History, UNSW More Prints of Good Pix: Australian News and Information Bureau Photo-Stories on International Students in the 1950s and 1960s

Panel 2: Alternative media histories
Mike Nugent, PhD Candidate, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University Video Cassette Revolution: How home video changed entertainment
Cathy Perkins, State Library of NSW & University of Sydney Nothing is Wasted: Zora Cross and the literary community of the Australian Woman’s Mirror
Dr Rebecca Sheehan, Lecturer in Sociology of Gender, Macquarie University “Welcome to the Pleasuredome”: Sex, Vinyl, and Identity Awakenings in the 1980s

Final session: The Great Strike film – piecing together the archive trail from 1917
Laila Ellmoos, Historian, City of Sydney


Jointly hosted by Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Sydney; Centre for Media History, Macquarie University; Australian Centre for Public History, UTS.
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Book for both this symposium and our morning research symposium

The act of seeing and looking has many layers. Who is doing the looking and why? What is being seen? How is this being communicated? And how might this translate into knowing?

With John Berger’s ground breaking work, Ways of Seeing now in its 44th year, what is it that we bring to seeing and knowing in the 21st century that is new? How might cultural, social and historical perspectives, technology, accessibility and scientific or art informed innovation contribute to interpretation of what is being seen? In a time when ‘media snacking’ on a constant stream of online visual images and text based information is the norm, what, if anything, has shifted in the way we see and know?

How do these ideas impact how we see and perceive objects, art works, archives and other materials in cultural spaces? Do such acts of seeing contribute to changing perspectives?

Join us as we investigate new thoughts on seeing and knowing in cultural spaces such as galleries, libraries, archives and museums.

Buy your discounted combined ticket here.