Child of Now
A massively co-authored story about the next century and the most ambitious portrait of a place’s people ever created.
This project-in-development combines emerging virtual holographic and artificial intelligence technology with performances from 14,400 Victorians.
The urgent aim of this project is to create a once in a lifetime ritual for the people of Victoria to speculate on the next century and consciously empathise with future generations who will inherit our society. I am asking people to imagine the next century through the eyes of a child born today.
Child of Now is being created in partnership with Arts Centre Melbourne and has received development grants from City of Melbourne, Creative Victoria and University of Melbourne.
Further details will be released as the project progresses. This page outlines the development of the project so far. If you would like to know more or would like to contribute, please get in touch!
a mesmerising immersive artwork – The Age
Case Study Video
Prototype 18-20 February 2022
Arts Centre Melbourne
A prototype of Child of Now presented by Arts Centre Melbourne and University of Melbourne
The Child of Now prototype is an ambitious, mixed-reality experience by artist Robert Walton with First Nations author and activist Claire G. Coleman. It combines original storytelling, animation, immersive sound design, built environments, and virtual reality from an extraordinary team of leading Australian artists.
Child of Now asks Melburnians to create, share and nurture a vision of the future for an imagined child born in 2022. We invited the first participants to engage with the prototype and make public contributions to the project through their interactions.
In this prototype installation participants journeyed through an audio-visual experience and had their ‘hologram’ captured and replayed in virtual reality. This is the first stage of a longer-term project which will gather thousands of 3D portraits and voices, via volumetric body scanning and interactive augmented reality technologies.
Child of Now is a free, interactive experience for one person at a time lasting approximately 25 minutes.
Click to expand
In 2021 we developed a prototype for the Child of Now project funded through a major grant from Melbourne School of Engineering and The School of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne.
The first audiences experienced the Child of Now Prototype in February 2022.
Child of Now Prototype Team
- Robert Walton / Concept, Director, Co-writer
- Julianne Pierce / Creative Producer
- Claire G Coleman / Writer
- Phoria / Technical Artist
- Anna Tregloan / Environment Design
- Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey / Audio Design
- Richard Gorr / Production Manager
- Volumetric capture system by Dr Andrew Irlitti (University of Melbourne), Professor Frank Vetere (University of Melbourne), and Associate Professor Thuong Hoang (Deakin University).
- Executive Producer Arts Centre Melbourne with support from the University of Melbourne.
- Uncle Jack Charles and Tahlee Fereday / The Voice of I-ME
A Council of Future Advisors supports the process of making this ambitious work – a portrait of the future people of Victoria – by providing feedback, offering questions, ensuring that the experience is as accessible and meaningful to diverse range of ages, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. They are on the alert for unintended ableism, racism, gender discrimination, transphobia, homophobia and ageism within the content and form of the work, through the lens of their lived experienced. The project currently has 4 advisors, all artists, each from a different decade of life. The council will grow to 10 future advisors, one from each decade of life, as the project develops.
- Jax Jacki Brown / Future Advisor
- Janice Florence / Future Advisor
- Lorna Hannan / Future Advisor
- Mitch Mahoney / Future Advisor
In 2018 we completed a comprehensive Feasibility Study for Child of Now funded by Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne and Arts Centre Melbourne.
The 42-page study details the project’s concept, co-creative approach, design, audience strategy, deliverables, partners, governance, First Nation engagement, technical feasibility, approach to diversity, community engagement strategy, international strategy, budget and proof of concept.
It included contributions from:
- Robert Walton
- Claire G Coleman
- Gendry Morales
- Angharad Wynne-Jones
- Brad Hammond
- Anna Tregloan
- Kieth Tucker
- Luke McKinnon
- Xavier Irvine
- Chris Clarke
June 2018 – Arts Centre Melbourne supported by City of Melbourne
Over three days the participants unpacked the research material and concept of Child of Now. Focused discussions on technical feasibility took place at the end of each day to ground speculation and move us closer to a deliverable project.
- Robert Walton, Lead Artist, Director
- Angharad Wynne-Jones, Head of Participation, Arts Centre Melbourne
- Emma Dodd, Creative Producer, Arts Centre Melbourne
- Mish Grigor, Artist, Co-founder of POST
- Luke McKinnon, Founder and Director, Common State, Communications
- Brad Hammond, Creative Technologist, Emerging Media System Design Expert
- Gendry Morales, Founder and CEO, Flight Plan, Blockchain Expert
- Margie Mahon, Research Innovation and Commercialization, University of Melbourne
- Prof Frank Vetere, Head Microsoft Centre for Social Natural User Interaction
- Dr Alison Bennett, Artist working in expanded photography and digital media
- J Rosenbaum, Contemporary Figurative Artist
One morning the team visited Investment Centre Victoria on Floor 46 of 55 Collins Street. The view of the stretch of the river addressed in Part II was critical in helping the team understand the scale of the project.
Arts Centre Melbourne and Luke McKinnon director of Common State conducted two focus groups with members of the public about the concept and appeal of Child of Now. One group of 53 year olds and another of 23 year olds worked for 2 hours each on the project concept. The feedback gained from this exercise has informed the shape of the project and feasibility study.
The use of virtual and augmented reality was appealing to both groups, and particularly appealing was the ability to participate with friends and family in contributing your own image and then being able to see it again in the city. The 53 year olds strongly favoured an innovative project that puts the city and state on the international map in terms of ambition, as well as feeling connected to the idea of adding part of themselves to posterity. The 23 year olds were drawn to the idea of being able to participate with their friends and access the work during the evenings and night.
Comments from Focus Group participants
Being new and different makes the whole idea more appealing. A once in a lifetime chance that may not come again.
53 year old
[Appealing to] use virtual reality to experience time, and being a part of the largest portrait ever to be.
23 year old
Seeing/meeting lots of people born when I was, comparing our life experiences, celebrating a life lived in Melbourne. Being part of a one of a kind, historic event.
53 year old
Very relevant to my demographic: anxiety about the future job aspirations etc.
23 year old
[It is appealing] To be integrally part of something special putting Melbourne in the world spotlight.
53 year old
It seems like a really forward thinking art project which would be appealing to many demographics. Being able to see it on the big screen would be very cool. Multiple locations is great as is by phone.
23 year old
In April and May 2018 Robert Walton was artist in residence at Blast Theory in Brighton UK as part of the Australia Council’s International Residency Program. Blast Theory are the world-leading pioneers of interactive art, asking thorny questions in public spaces. For six weeks Robert developed the concept for Child of Now under the mentorship of the Blast Theory team culminating in the first public presentation of the background research and working concept for the project.
Blast Theory made this short video at the beginning of the residency.
Claire G Coleman and Robert Walton
Sound and Music Design
Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey
Volumetric capture system
Dr Andrew Irlitti (University of Melbourne), Professor Frank Vetere (University of Melbourne), and Associate Professor Thuong Hoang (Deakin University)
Featuring as the voice of I-ME
Uncle Jack Charles and Tahlee Fereday
Jax Jacki Brown
Full Credits List
To participate in Child of Now, you will asked to read and agree to our Privacy Notice and Audio Video Photography Release.
Public Art, Participation, XR, VR, Virtual Holograms, Immersion, Animation, Performance, Future
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Images above by Open Studio participants.
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