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Media storytelling mini-series

Following the very well attended and interesting Environmental storytelling in diverse media workshop organised by the Sydney Environment Institute in 2022, Dr Diana Chester, Associate Professor Damien Ricketson chaired the Media Storytelling mini-series.

The mini-series brought a group of interested researchers and students together for three workshops and talks that explored media storytelling and the environment. The aim was to share projects, research, and writing about and that exist in this arena as well as to seek input and feedback from the group on such ongoing projects. The mini-series ran in semester 2 2023 to coincide with an SEI Collaborative Fellowship, Listening to the Earth, led by Damien Ricketson and Diana Chester.

The series

Thursday 10 August, 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Damien Ricketson and Diana Chester will start the series with a presentation on Listening to the Earth, a collaborative research project exploring listening, connecting, and understanding our changing environment through the medium of sound. The sound installation features recordings of geophones and hydrophones deployed at coastal Australian intertidal zones. The captured vibrations are remodelled and returned to a specially configured listening room in which audiences are immersed in surround audio, and vibrating elements amidst darkened pools of rippling water. The presentation speaks to the development of this work, specifically how the composers have grappled with their own relationship to listening in our changing environment, and how sonic composition can be used to bring Earth’s stories to a listening audience.


Dr. Diana Chester is a scholar and artist from New York whose work produces critically influential studies, methods, and outputs that use sound to traverse disciplinary boundaries using feminist, de-colonial, and post-anthropocentric approaches to thinking and making. Chester draws from sound studies, archival studies, and ethnography and relies on field recording and composition to explore sound in diverse contexts by putting research and practice in direct conversation—deepening the capacities of both. Chester in Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications at the University of Sydney, editor of Interference Journal, and vice president of the World Listening Project.

Damien Ricketson is a Sydney-based composer. He is an academic at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney and was the founder and former Artistic Director of Australia’s new music group Ensemble Offspring (1995-2015). Ricketson’s multisensory works have received awards including the International Music Theatre Now Prize (2018), Instrumental and Vocal Works of the Year in the Australian Art Music Awards (2015 & 2019) and represented Oceania at the Tokyo World Festival (2019). Recent creative work has explored the relationship between vibration and the body and listening beyond what is heard by the ears.

Thursday 31 August, 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Survival Stories: Threatened Species and the Scientists Who Study Them is a collaboration between the Australian Museum and Animal Allegories (Zoë Sadokierski and Ceridwen Dovey) which explores ways to translate conservation science through creative practice, for adult audiences. The Museum is in the process of publishing a series of multimedia stories produced through the collaboration, on the Climate Solutions Centre section of the website. These stories combine scientific facts with longform scientist’s profiles, original creative works and material remixed from the Museum’s digital archives. They are the results of 18-months research and development with scientists and archivists from the Museum, as well as artists, musicians, and filmmakers. In this talk Jenny Newell, Zoë Sadokierski and Ceridwen Dovey discuss how the research process led to developing a ‘nature-culture storytelling framework’ for translating conservation science through creative practice, to grow public engagement and welcome non-experts into conservation narratives.  


Collaborating as Animal Allegories, Zoë Sadokierski and Ceridwen Dovey craft nature-culture stories that are experimental, visually surprising and sometimes a little strange. Ceridwen is a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction, and a filmmaker. Zoë is a designer, writer, educator and Associate Professor at the UTS School of Design. We know stories can't save the world. But they can provide moments of respite, transporting us into an imaginative realm where other possible paths we might take shimmer briefly into view. 

Dr Jenny Newell is the Curator for Climate Change, Climate Solutions Centre, Australian Museum, Sydney. She works to advance understanding and engagement in the climate crisis, through exhibitions, events, publications and community collaborations. With a background in environmental history, she has used her curatorial roles in London, Canberra, New York and Sydney to explore and advance positive human-nature relationships.

Thursday 14 September, 12:30pm – 1:30pm

In the depths of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment website there is a BioBanking Assessment Methodology (BBAM) Dashboard. Curiously static, conservatively white and navy, the bold font of the BioBanking Dashboard puts the price of a Cumberland Plain Land Snail at $500, a Golden Sun Moth at $6,429, and a Koala at $300. Unlike the information found on dashboards we might be used to - km/h increasing in a car’s odometer, Covid numbers ticking up on a Department of Health’s tracker, the value of a currency fluctuating before our eyes on Google Finance - the real time changes recorded in this dashboard are just application glitches. The design of this dashboard is not for ease of use or accessibility, in fact, between the malfunctions and the macro-resolution of the data, unintelligibility seems to be a main theme. In this presentation, Matthew Darmour-Paul discusses the convergence of conservation and development in the age of ecological ‘neutrality.’


Matthew Darmour-Paul explores architecture’s entanglement within political ecology, ruralisation and the financialisation of nature. He is a cofounder of Feral Partnerships, a collective focused on re-claiming architectural knowledge in an age of rapid biodiversity loss as a spatial practice in the pursuit of multispecies flourishing. He’s worked with artists, architects, sociologists and anthropologists in the UK, Denmark, and Australia.

Header image: Natalie Parham via Unsplash.