ACCA Open Exhibition Kit

ACCA Open is unique as the first ever entirely online ACCA exhibition. ACCA Open consists of six diverse contemporary art projects that have been commissioned specifically for the digital realm. Initially, ACCA Open was conceived as a way for ACCA to continue to work with contemporary artists during the period when ACCA’s physical galleries were closed due to Covid-19. The process of curating the exhibition began with an Australia-wide open call to artists from all backgrounds, career levels and practices to submit ideas for projects that could be presented through digital platforms.

One of the intentions of ACCA Open is to support artists to develop their practice in new ways, and so artists were encouraged to apply even if they did not usually work with digital media or online. Three-hundred-and-fifty submissions were received from artists around the country, and the successful proposals were from solo artists Archie Barry, Zanny Begg, Léuli Eshrāghi, and Sean Peoples, and collaborative duos Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, and Amrita Hepi and Sam Lieblich. The six projects are each very different from one another. They traverse the fields of artificial intelligence, sound, animation, video and archives. The diversity of ideas and approaches explored highlights the breadth of possibility available to artists when working in the digital realm.

How to use this kit:

This exhibition kit has been written by ACCA Education to support learning alongside ACCA Open. All six artists and artworks from the exhibition have been highlighted, with discussion questions to prompt thinking with students. Primary and Secondary activities are mapped to the Victorian and Australian Curriculum, and can be found in the For Teachers section. VCE students and teachers can view the Support Material section for further reading, video and audio interviews.

Download PDF Exhibition Kit »

About the Artists


Archie Barry

Archie Barry is an interdisciplinary artist currently living and working in Naarm (Melbourne). Their artistic research comprises national and international exhibitions, performances, presentations and workshops, and writing for numerous publications. Their artistic output is informed by lived experience, and takes form as an autobiographical, somatic (meaning related to the body) practice, spanning performance, video, musical composition and writing.

Themes of personhood, embodiment, gender and mortality are explored through sustained moments of intense connection with audiences, often utilising uncanny bodily gestures, doubled voices, deformed and reformed language, and the production of multiple digital personas. Archie Barry completed a Masters of Contemporary Art at Victorian College of the Arts (University of Melbourne) in 2017 and a Bachelor of Art Education with First Class Honours at the College of Fine Arts (University of New South Wales) in 2013.

Zanny Begg

Zanny Begg is an artist and filmmaker who is interested in hidden and contested histories as subject matter for artworks. Begg lives in Bulli, New South Wales, on the lands of the Wodi Wodi people, of the Dharawal Nation.

She works with film, drawing and installation to explore ways in which we can live and operate in the world differently from the present state of affairs. In 2016 Begg won both the Incinerator Art for Social Change Award, and the Terrence and Lynnette Fern Cite Paris Residency. In 2018 she won the inaugural ACMI and Artbank film commission. Begg has exhibited widely throughout Australia and overseas, and teaches at UNSW Art and Design.

Léuli Eshrāghi

Dr Léuli Eshrāghi is a Sāmoan-Persian-Australian artist, curator and researcher whose creative practice aims to centre Indigenous presence and power, sensual and spoken languages, and ceremonial-political practices. Ia (ia is the Sāmoan gender neutral term Eshrāghi uses, and can be approximately translated as ‘they/them’) is currently based in Mparntwe/Alice Springs.

Through performance, moving image, writing and installation, ia engages with Indigenous experience as one haunted by ongoing ‘militourist’ and missionary violence that erase the presence of faʻafafine-faʻatama (meaning the third gender within Sāmoan culture) from kinship structures. Eshrāghi is the inaugural Horizon/Indigenous Futures postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University and a member of The Space Between Us, a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada project (2020-28) led by Dr Julie Nagam.

Madeleine Flynn & Tim Humphrey

Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey are conceptual artists who work with audio to create unexpected situations for listening. They live and work together in Melbourne. Their work is driven by a curiosity about how sound operates within culture, and it is their aim to engage with new processes and audiences through public and participative interventions. Some current interests within their practice include: the sound of existential risk; the audio agents of artificial intelligence in public space; and long-form, socially engaged public art interventions.

They have exhibited their work widely, and recent presentations include AsiaTopa, Melbourne; Setouchi Triennale Japan; Theater Der Welt Germany; Brighton Festival UK; Sonica Festival Glasgow; Asian Arts Theater, Gwangju; Perth Festival, Australia; MONA FOMA, Australia; and ANTI Festival, Finland. They live and work in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia.

Amrita Hepi & Sam Lieblich

Amrita Hepi is a choreographer, dancer and artist from Bundjulung (Aus) and Ngāpuhi (NZ) territories who works with dance, choreography, video, installation and objects to create artworks that consider the body’s relationship to personal histories and the archive. Hepi is currently a studio artist at Gertrude Contemporary and is based in Melbourne. Hepi’s work is characterised by hybridity—she aims to extend choreographic practices by combining dance and movement with other domains such as visual art, language and participatory research. 

Sam Lieblich is a neuroscientist, writer, and psychiatrist whose research focuses on the role of the brain in generating the sense of self and place. Lieblich is based in Melbourne. He aims to address the scientism of neuroscience by working with linguistic and psychoanalytic ideas of human subjectivity. Lieblich is also interested in exploring the interaction and integration of algorithms with the human subject.

This is the first time Hepi and Lieblich have collaborated on a creative project.

Sean Peoples

Sean Peoples is a multidisciplinary artist with interests in imitation, appropriation and collage, who is based in Melbourne. His work is informed by extensive research, and seeks to integrate disparate ideas and concerns in parallel arrangements, often employing networks and models as visual devices. Peoples is also one half of The Telepathy Project, a collaboration formed in 2005 with artist Veronica Kent. The duo employ telepathy as an extended metaphor and working method, through which they explore alternate ways of being, communicating and collaborating with one another. 

Recent solo exhibitions include Cubism, Tourism, Surrealism, STATION, Melbourne, 2019; Sorting Demon II, STATION, Melbourne, 2016; Alien Antique, TCB, Melbourne, 2016; and the televisual project, Channel G, West Space, Melbourne, 2013.


Key Artworks

Archie Barry, Multiply 2020 (production still).

Archie Barry, Multiply 2020

audio files, digital graphics, online platform,

Multiply is an audio artwork in the form of five recordings combining spoken word, singing, electronic beats and sound effects. Archie Barry describes the work as a conversation between five different personas who are engaged in discussing ideas of self-determination and interdependence. For ACCA Open, Barry proposed to create an artwork that was audio-based rather than visual. This decision was in response to the increased presence of video-based in day-to-day interactions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Acting as a musical score to imagery that cannot be seen, the specific times and places that Multiply involves are challenging to identify. The intention of this strategy was to position the artwork in pronounced contrast to ocular-based (another word for visual) mediums, to present an alternative to the kinds of information that images offer sighted people. The interweaving stories are derived from embedded sensory impressions collected from places the artist has been and interactions they have had – fractured and rearranged into a five-track score. In this sense, Multiply shares some similarities with collage. Barry observes that very few human experiences are truly orderly or straight-forward, instead our experiences are often disorienting and confusing, and Multiply aims to communicate these effects.

As a sensory excursion, Multiply variously asks the questions: what is human self-determination? How can we reimagine our individual selves as multiple and complex beings? And, what are the political implications of thinking in these ways?


Discussion questions

  • What is it like to listen to Multiply? What does your mind do when you are listening without anything to see?
  • When Archie Barry chose to create a non-visual artwork, they set themselves a creative boundary to work within. Why would an artist choose to deliberately restrict their creative options? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?
  • Create/Evaluate/Analyse If you had to create a non-visual artwork, what sense/s would you choose to work with (touch, smell, hearing, taste and proprioception {spatial awareness}), and what form would it take?
Zanny Begg, Magic Mountains 2020 (production still). Photograph Dane Howell

Zanny Begg, Magic mountains 2020

digital video with sound, online platform

Magic mountains is a five-part narrative video created by Zanny Begg in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The artwork draws upon family history and literature to explore themes of isolation, sickness, and, as the artist notes ‘the urgencies and anxieties (of) our current world: immunity/contagion, solidarity/individualism, and liberty/authoritarianism.’

The title is drawn from the 1924 novel The Magic Mountain by German author Thomas Mann. For Mann, explains Begg, ‘(themes of) isolation (and contagion were) a way to (…) analyse, the sickness of a world that was teetering towards war.’ And as Mann wrote: ‘A person lives not only their personal life, as an individual, but also, consciously or unconsciously, the life of their epoch.’ This is a way of saying that the great events of a time, such as the tuberculosis or Covid-19 pandemics, unavoidably shape our lived experiences.

Magic mountains connects the themes in Mann’s book to the life and death of Bernard Patrick Murray, Begg’s great-grandfather in law. Murray was a victim of tuberculosis who, like many others, was shunned by society for being contagious. He was quarantined against his will in Waterfall Sanitorium, a tuberculosis hospital in regional New South Wales. The artwork follows Saorise, the artist’s daughter, as she searches the overgrown bush surrounding the hospital for the grave of her great-great-grandfather, amongst those of two-thousand other tuberculosis victims.

The five video vignettes (meaning short, descriptive passages) can be viewed in any order, covering themes of forgetting, trespassing, ghosting, healing and remembering. Featuring characters of the past and present, the work, as Begg notes, activates ‘the ghosts of ancestors and connects the experience of living through a pandemic across the generations.’

Discussion questions

  • How would you describe your experience of the artwork? What did you see? What did you feel?  
  • There are five narrative chapters to Magic Mountains that can be played in any order. Why do you think Begg has structured the artwork this way?
  • Write a short story that explores a significant event in your life in five paragraphs, from five different perspectives. Try to write it so the paragraphs can be read in any order You might like to cut out the paragraphs to rearrange them.


Léuli Eshrāghi, AOAULI (barkcloth drawing) 2020

Léuli Eshrāghi, AOAULI 2020

video with sound, hyperlinks, interactive online portal

The title of Léuli Eshrāghi’s artwork, AOAULI, means ‘midday’ in gagana Sāmoa (the language of Sāmoa). The artwork takes the form of siapo, Sāmoan bark cloth, reimagined as a digital, interactive fabric. The artist describes AOAULI as siapo viliata (animated barkcloth), and the screen through which we experience it as a ‘futurist loom’. AOAULI consists of intermingled layers of video, pattern, text and hyperlinks. The topmost layer features three moving images showing the artist practising siva Sāmoa—Sāmoan ritual dances that allude to the kava ceremony and the connections between the heavens and earths through to the underworld—in the desert around Mparntwe/Alice Springs. These moving images interweave with a second layer, which consists of images of siapo that have been digitally altered to show rich pink and magenta colours. The third layer consists of numerous hyperlinks to other artists, artworks, essays and videos on many different websites. Each link has been selected by the artist because it represents an important element of cultural or creative knowledge.

The artist imagines AOAULI as a futuristic digital object that comes to us, in 2020, from the ‘recent future’ of 2025. Esrāghi is interested in how his artwork can help the viewer to explore relationships to time, space, pleasure, memory and knowledge. He intends AOAULI to function like a mnemonic device—something that is used to help one remember information. A well-known example of a mnemonic device is the ‘ABC song’, which uses a tune and rhyming lyrics to help people to learn and recall the letters of the alphabet in order. Here, the siapo viliata brings together many different pieces of information, which are woven into its fabric, as an experimental way to support cultural memory and knowledge-keeping of ancestors, drawings, poetry, manifestos and performance.

Discussion questions

  •  AOAULI is based on siapo, a cloth made from Mulberry Paper bark that is symbolic of Sāmoan culture. What is a material or object that is similarly significant to your culture?
  • Léuli Esrāghi created his artwork as a mnemonic device, something to help remember culture. How has he done this? Does interacting with AOAULI trigger any of your own memories?
  • How else could an artwork be used as a mnemonic device? If you were making such an artwork, what important information would you have it help you to remember?


Madeliene Flynn and Tim Humphrey, How Much Time Do We Have 2020 (production still)

Madeleine Flynn & Tim Humphrey, How much time do we have? 2020

digital animation, sound, algorithm, audio description, open captions, dedicated server, online platform

How much time do we have? is an ever-evolving audiovisual artwork viewable as a live stream from the ACCA website. The visual element of the piece is an animated, abstract composition consisting of lines, triangles, polygons and dots that interact with one another over a black background. The second element is audio consisting of sine tones (a tone with a single frequency, also known as a pure tone) that chime in time with the animated shapes. This audio-visual composition is accompanied by an audio description that describes the sound and imagery in open caption text and spoken description. 

The timing of the audio and visual elements are governed by algorithms that operate the artwork. An algorithm is a set of rules, primarily used in computing, that set out a sequence of possible outcomes to allow a machine to complete simple or complex tasks based on inputs. A common example of an algorithm is predictive text function, which is programmed to suggest the possibilities for the word being spelt based upon the input – the characters typed and their order. In this artwork, the algorithm is tasked with creating audio visual compositions, which are what we experience watching and listening to the artwork.

How much time do we have? is a site-specific and time-based work, made in response to the global pandemic that has re-framed all lives, including those of the artists. Broadcast from a single computer located at the artists’ studio, the artwork will fade from view when stage four restrictions are lifted in Melbourne. How much time do we have? creates an opportunity for audiences to experience art alone, or with others, in a purely virtual sphere, at a time when our physical interactions—such as visiting an art gallery—are necessarily limited.

Discussion questions

  • What other screen-based artworks, animations or programs that do not have a beginning or an end have you seen? Tip: view Sean Peoples’ OFFWORLD, also part of ACCA Open.
  • Where else do you encounter algorithms? List three everyday situations where you think you have engaged with an algorithm in the last week.
  • Generate an idea for an artwork that can be experienced in isolation. Describe how it would connect people who could not interact in real life.
Amrita Hepi & Sam Lieblich, Neighbour 2020 (production still)

Amrita Hepi & Sam Lieblich, Neighbour 2020

custom chatbot, chatbot server, video, sound, algorithm, participant input

Amrita Hepi and Sam Lieblich’s collaborative artwork Neighbour takes the form of an online chatbot, a computer program designed to have ‘conversation’ with human beings. Embedded on ACCA’s homepage, Neighbour is inspired by the assistance chatbots used on retail websites to answer customer queries. However, once a visitor to the ACCA site engages Neighbour, it is revealed that this chatbot is not there to answer their questions, instead it has a series of its own.

Neighbour uses artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms in an attempt to answer the existential (meaning relating to human existence) question ‘What does it feel like?’ The artists’ intention was to create an interactive artwork that would learn about humanity through an exchange of language and expressions of feeling. “Neighbour‘s curious algorithm wants to know what it is, what it’s like, and how it feels, in an attempt to locate the enigmatic ‘it’ that we are,” the artists explain. “Neighbour wants to know about personhood in the age of the algorithm.”

The chatbot model is a contemporary form of simulated human exchange, aimed at softening and aiding the navigation of the otherwise disembodied, dehumanised digital realm. Neighbour plays with the ambiguity of the chatbot, and it is often hard for a viewer to tell whether they are engaging with a real person or trained AI. Some of the ‘answers’ provided by Neighbour come in the form of short video recordings of the artists themselves. This is Hepi and Lieblich’s attempt to remind the visitor that, at their core, all AI is still trained by humans. This was important to the artists as a way to bring up the reality that AI programs are informed by the prejudices and biases of their creators.

Discussion questions

  • When was the last time you were asked how you feel? Do you understand why the artists are interested in the question ‘how does it feel? Attempt to explain. 
  • Take turns with a classmate or friend asking the question ‘how does it feel?’ Instead of using words (verbal language), answer with movements and expressions (body language). 
  • Analyse: What can movement, such as dance, express that speech cannot, and vice versa? List 3-5 benefits and drawbacks for each mode of communication.
Sean Peoples OFFWORLD 2020 (production still)

Sean Peoples, OFFWORLD 2020

digital video, endless duration

Sean Peoples’ OFFWORLD takes the form of a series of fragmented, computer-generated animations. It employs imagery and symbols drawn from film, television, print media and the internet. OFFWORLD draws upon cosmology (a branch of astronomy dealing with the origin and structure of the universe) and the digital archive as open sources to create a work of speculative fiction and historical re-interpretation. The artwork is intended as a digital viewing window onto a metaphysical (metaphysics – a division of philosophy concerned with the nature of reality and being) galaxy in which free-floating signifiers – some referencing cultural politics, drift through space an accumulate into mise-en-scene (meaning theatrical setting) of diverse societal artefacts. 

OFFWORLD is informed by the elastic and warped quality of time experienced through both the Covid-19 lockdown period and when viewing screen-based media. The artwork plays on an endless, timeless loop, and has been given a backdated start date of 1 January 1901, so that its origin stretches back almost four billion seconds to the significant historical moment of Australian Federation.

As Sean Peoples’ notes: ‘There is a popular belief that ancient Greek cosmology was grounded in the idea of a symmetrical universe; a spherical, stationary Earth at the centre (around) which the Sun, Moon, and planets rotated. It (was believed) that this symmetry would extend to the presence of two or more land masses which would balance out the known habitable world. Without a southern land mass (Australia, as it was later named) it was thought an unbalanced Earth would topple over in a vast and inharmonious universe. OFFWORLD uses this theory as a metaphor to explore the increased sense of imbalance and unease in the modern world – particularly from an Australian perspective’.

Discussion questions

  • What images, symbols or objects did you recognise in OFFWORLD? Where has the artist appropriated these from?
  • Can you group the diverse segments of OFFWORLD according to characteristics? What are some common threads between the fragments of film?
  • Create/Evaluate/Analyse OFFWORLD consists of diverse fragments of action and imagery. In your opinion, what is the effect of such juxtaposition? How would you judge the success of the artist’s approach?

Support Material

For Teachers

Primary activities

Artful dancing

Amrita Hepi and Sam Leiblich’s artwork Neighbour used a chatbot to ask the audience ‘how does it feel?’, and the artists expressed possible responses using dance. Pick a collaborator and take turns asking this question, ‘how does it feel?’, and responding with short dance moves. Pick two of your favourite dance responses to perform to the rest of the class.

An artwork for the ears

Archie Barry created a mind-map to plan their non-visual artwork. In pairs choose a setting for inspiration – a moment in time, a particular action, near or far, in the present or future, real or imagined. Draw a mind map to describe the sounds and textures that could be used to depict this setting. In your pair, perform these sounds to your class using a microphone (if you have one – project your voice if not). You may also record your sound performance. Your performance will become a personal impression of your chosen setting, and your list or mind map will become a visual document of the creative process.

Australian Curriculum / Visual Arts / Years F-6

Use materials, techniques and processes to explore visual conventions when making artworks (ACAVAM107) (ACAVAM111) (ACAVAM115)

Explore ideas and artworks from different cultures and times, including artwork by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, to use as inspiration for their own representations (ACAVAM106) (ACAVAM110) (ACAVAM114)

Victorian Curriculum / Visual Arts / Levels F-6

Explore and Express Ideas (VCAVAE017, VCAVAE021, VCAVAE029)

Visual Arts Practices (VCAVAV018, VCAVAV022, VCAVAV030)

Present and Perform (VCAVAP019, VCAVAP023, VCAVAP031)

Curriculum Interpretation

These activities are inspired by Archie Barry and Amrita Hepi and Sam Lieblich’s use of performative, ephemeral gestures using sound and movement as art materials. The activities will build students’ capacities to approach creative expression using performative and experimental media and methods.

By undertaking these activities, students:

  • Explore movement as an alternative to traditional image making media.
  • Experiment with expressing stimulus and memory as sound.
  • Consider contemporary art practices as inspiration for their own art making.
  • Explore mind mapping as a generative tool for art making.

Secondary activities

Online exhibition contexts

Compare and contrast:

Select two of the ACCA Open artworks and write one paragraph describing the artworks and comparing the artists’ different approaches to creating online artwork. Consider how the artworks compare and contrast through their subject, medium, intention, and relevant art elements/principles. Describe and evaluate the different ways audiences experience these artworks. 

Create and propose:

Develop the concept for one digital artwork to be exhibited online – through a website, a mobile app, as a soundtrack/video, or a series of images, for example. Describe the type of artwork you have conceptualised and how your artistic intention would be communicated through the chosen form/medium/platform.


Australian Curriculum / Visual Arts / Years 7-10

Exploring how artists use materials, techniques, technologies and processes (ACAVAM119, ACAVAM126)

Plan and design artworks that represent artistic intention (ACAVAM120, ACAVAM128)

Present ideas for displaying artworks (ACAVAM122, ACAVAM129)

Victorian Curriculum / Visual Arts / Levels 7-10

Explore and express ideas (VCAVAE034, VCAVAE041)

Visual Arts Practices (VCAVAV036, VCAVAV043)

Respond and Interpret (VCAVAR038, VCAVAR045)

Curriculum Interpretation

These activities are intended to get students thinking about the variety of ways artists can create works for online contexts. By focusing their analysis on two ACCA Open commissions, this activity is intended to enhance critical thinking about how art can be made for online platforms, and the conceptual premises underpinning digital art practices.

By undertaking this activity, students:

  • Explore two artworks and draw connections between artistic intent, online formats, and audience experience.
  • Analyse how online artworks can be created and experienced differently to convey themes including isolation, interaction, Indigenous histories, and intersubjectivity. 
  • Understand connections between artistic intent and online presentation, and develop a concept for creating a digital artwork for an online context.
  • Understand the practice and processes of a contemporary artist.

Terms of Use

This education resource has been produced by ACCA Education to provide information and classroom support material for education visits to the online exhibition ACCA Open. The reproduction and communication of this resource is permitted for educational purposes only.

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