return to main index
Welcome

The embedded links should give you a sense of the depth and scope of this work...

The Flight of Ducks is an Australian on-line documentary spanning more than 80 years. It has been continuously developed online since 1995. In January 1933, F.J.A. Pockley (my father) travelled to Central Australia as a student member of a Sydney University research team. Soon after arriving at Hermannsburg Mission he undertook a private camel expedition through the Western MacDonell Ranges to Mount Liebig. He brought back a pencil written journal, cinefilm, photographs and Aboriginal objects. The collection provides a unique window into the end of the frontier period when there were still isolated groups of Aborigines yet to experience contact with 'whites'. My father's companions on this journey were interesting and remarkable men. They were: Hezekial, a senior Aboriginal lawman and guide; linguist, T.G.H. Strehlow; artist, Arthur Murch and animal and skull collector, Stanley Larnach.

My father rewrote his journal three times before his death in 1990. The details of his memories were elaborated through time. He added a post-script after his return in 1976 where significant changes were evident, not only in Central Australia but also in himself. Another layer to this story was added in September 1996 when I took my own children (his grandchildren) on a journey that retraced the 1933 expedition.

The Flight of Ducks is no longer a record of past and present forays into this particular Central Australia landscape. It has evolved into an expedition into a datascape for which we have yet to develop a suitable terminology. It is part history, part novel, part data-base, part postcard, part diary, part museum, part poem, part conversation, part shed.

Above all, The Flight of Ducks is an ongoing communication between its layered stories and its audience or participants. A collection of digital objects is given meaning, not just because they have historical significance, but because elements of the story are still unfolding.

The Flight of Ducks draws on the characters and imaginative layers that create the idea of 'the centre'. Herein lies the significance of the title of this work. It comes from an image created in song and drawn from the heart of the expedition journals. The image refers to imaginative flight, to the shape and form of the space and to the process of story telling in a participatory environment.

Like oral epic poetry, the work publicly accommodates its own evolution as a proliferating organism. It is shaped by its participants, by a continuous exploration of the the poetics of the medium and by a deep concern for the preservation of its content.

See also: