When I came to Kepa Kurl / Esperance, people gave me things. Flowers arrived at my residency flat. Containers of soup, lentil dhal, and vegan bolognaise filled my freezer. Kind people would check in on me, to make sure I wasn’t lonely. I was struck by the generosity of locals, and witnessed people in the community sharing and giving their time, resources, knowledge, skills and wealth with others. I was struck by the strength of the community’s gift and ‘diverse economies’ and the degree to which giving, sharing, and mutual exchange is recognised as central to building and sustaining a rural community.
Seeder Futures is a digital artwork informed by this giving, sharing and community-building. I documented ways in which Esperance locals share and give in their community. To engage the State Collection, I invited AGWA to share high-resolution public domain artwork with the people of Esperance, in return.
Seeder Futures establishes a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing protocol between the Kepa Kurl / Esperance community and The Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA). The artwork is a shared, synchronised folder, collectively hosted by Esperance community members and a PC at AGWA. This shared folder includes images of the collection alongside interviews with community members.
On P2P file sharing programs the term ‘seeders’ describes those who store files locally, and make them available for download and sharing by others. Seeders are also agricultural machinery, used to distribute and sow seeds at scale across large paddocks including Esperance’s broad acre farms.
Seeder Futures is an artwork where all viewers become hosts. Its conditions of viewing are informed by principles of reciprocity; those who receive the ‘gift’ of access become seeders — enabling greater access for others.
Digitisation of state collections promises to increase access, particularly for rural populations who might never visit a state gallery. But several collections have practices, policies, and web infrastructures that restrict this. In researching this work, I discovered that access to high resolution files of public domain work is restricted by many Australian state galleries, and that copyright is often asserted over artwork in the public domain through its digitisation and photography. I wanted to explore what a collection truly owned by the people of West Australia might look like. Seeder Futures enacts an alternative way AGWA’s state collection could be stored, distributed and made accessible to a rural community.