The Virtual and the Vegetal: Creating a 'Living' Biocultural Heritage Archive through Digital Storytelling Approaches

John Charles Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


FloraCultures is an online archive currently being developed in consultation with Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth, Western Australia. The archive will showcase the 'botanical heritage' of indigenous plant species found in the extant bushland areas of Kings Park near the heart of the city. A selection of multimedia content (text, images, audio recordings, video interviews) and social media approaches (crowd-sourcing, interactivity, participatory media) will be brought together to highlight the cultural value of Perth's bio-cultural diversity. This paper will analyse FloraCultures in terms of Stuart Hall and Jacques Derrida's theories of 'the living archive' in tandem with recent research into 'digital storytelling' through new media. Derrida argues that the living archive is brought into existence through the dialectic between the death drive (Thanatos) and the conservation drive (Eros), and that an interdisciplinary field of 'archiviology' is required to understand and develop archives in their broader cultural contexts. For Hall, the living archive is defined by heterodoxy as a participatory space consisting of a multitude of materials and in which public exchange can be fostered. I argue that a living archive in the digital era is brought to life through digital storytelling techniques that allow users to contribute to, participate in and create their own stories as part of an ecology of the archive. In ecological terms, FloraCultures brings plant diversity - and the factors which impact it - to bear on the archive and the archivable. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal Media Journal: Australian Edition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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