#MADETODAY – Re-making Mega Fauna

Guest post by, Joseph Burgess

For me, The Edge is the Swiss-army-knife of creativity agency. Aside from having hand tools, 3D printers, sewing machines, soldering irons and above average coffee, there is a community that is thriving on creativity.

Everybody is doing their own unique thing and it’s always cool to see what people get up to. I’ve met some really good friends through The Edge and I have learned heaps in the time I’ve been going in. It started off as once a week and has steadily progressed to nearly every day. Most of the time I sit there smashing out editing videos and animation.


Since they’ve recently updated to using the newest version of Premiere, I’ve been getting into splicing some 360 footage and making my first VR videos. It’s interesting to work with footage that is spherical. I’m developing a VR project to show people what Australia looked like through the ice age because it wasn’t actually very icy here at all and it was actually a really crazy hyper rainforest. Think of the arid center for a second… Now imagine lakes big enough to support crocs, turtles, and all kinds of aquatic life that need lots of water to survive. The videos will be long meditative shots where you can experience the complete brutal nature of ice-age Australia without a time machine.

I had a couple of months of just getting really into the 3D printers and making replicas of fossils for reference. A few of them have come out really well and I’d like to cast them in copper someday when I can get my hands on a smelter. Between Brisbane Hackerspace and The Edge I’d have to say Brisbane has all the other major Australian cities beat on creative resources available to the public. In the four years that I was travelling around, working as a creative, I feel really fortunate to have my feet on the ground in Brisbane and be able to rock up to The Edge nearly any day of the week.

Thylacoleo Necklace

Obdurodon-skull

Obdurodon Skull Necklace

For now I’m just slicing and dicing my way through all the footage I captured for The Australian Mega Fauna Project and putting out a small line of shirts, hats, and mega fauna jewellery. It has taken a long time because I’m a perfectionist and I wanted to do the first few shoots with black and white film photography. The truth is I got really and deeply side tracked when I realized you could develop 35mm film with coffee, Panadol, vitamin C, and wine to name just a few. The Edge is the confluence of all the things I’d like to have in a workspace and I’ll definitely keep coming back.

 

A little bit about The Australian Mega Fauna Project.

My original goal upon arriving here in 2012 was to make The Australian Mega Fauna Project, a stop-motion animated documentary concerning the lack of mega fauna in popular Australian culture. I felt that if I could reintroduce these species as giant puppets into contemporary urban settings, people might pay a little more attention to one of the most unique stories in all of natural history. I threw myself into the project and chased the story around the continent.

It started with making animations and doing field work in remote areas alongside some of Australia’s top palaeontologists and ancient DNA researchers. It then progressed to holding exhibitions internationally and launching public arts initiatives that not only allowed me to realise the visuals for the project but also gave me the chance to share it with school children.

Walking Chicken

Walking Chicken

Thylacoleo dreaming

Thylacoleo dreaming

Thylacoleo in Fitzroy

Thylacoleo in Fitzroy

Thylacoleo Wooly's Brunswick

Thylacoleo Wooly’s Brunswick

Procoptodon Parliment station

Procoptodon Parliment station

Now, five years later, I have a body of work that is rich in character and has some of the key ingredients to a story just as Australian as ANZAC biscuits, Victoria Bitters, and Vegemite.

The next chapter of the project will be launched in Brisbane and concerns the lineage of the living koala. Similar to the Tasmanian tiger in that it is the last living member of its taxonomic family, the koala has a diverse lineage that includes many distinct species ranging in size from the miniature litokoala and perikoala up to the robustly built phascolarctos stirtoni.

‘Stirt’ weighed in at approximately 30kg and fossil evidence suggests that it existed alongside the extant koala phascolarctos cinerus. Due to climate change and inadequate legislation to protect them, the living koala is in a perilous situation.

As an artist with a passion for Australian animals, I feel it is my role to tell the story of the koala’s prehistory and to highlight the urgent need to work together to ensure the future of this iconic native species.

If you’re in Brisbane, keep a lookout in the tree tops of your community – the original ‘drop bears’ are coming back!

 


 

Would you like to know a little more about Joseph and his work on The Australian Mega Fauna Project? Check out his website: www.master-builder.squarespace.com

 

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