Past & Future Ideas
ALTAR is an audiovisual laboratory for anthropological research located in The Cairns Institute and College for Art, Society and Education at James Cook University (JCU). We specialise in places and people of the tropics.
ALTAR was founded in 2013 by then PhD scholars Daniela Vavrova and Bard Aaberge with support from Prof. Rosita Henry, Prof. Ton Otto, and Dr. Michael Wood. The following year Dr. Jennifer Deger joined ALTAR as research leader, and we had the official opening of ALTAR with a photographic exhibition and screening of showreel displaying our members' diverse projects.
Our members are committed to developing practice-lead research that engage with and contribute to the communities with whom we work. We are therefore concerned with not only returning research and other audiovisual materials to communities, but finding ways to make audiovisual research relevant with local concerns and agendas.
ALTAR members understand the camera as a catalyst for creativity, insight and social change. We use practice-lead approaches to generate new kinds of critical ethnography and social theory at a time when the increasing ubiquity of digital technologies and social media recast urgent questions in anthropology and other disciplines, not least those regarding representational and post-representational politics and ethics.
ALTAR members have produced a diverse range of award winning documentaries; experimental art works; photographic and multimedia museum installations. We research and publish widely in areas such as aesthetics, digital technologies and culture change, new media, film theory, visual culture, cultural sensoria, ethnographic media and ethnographic art practice. In 2014 ALTAR was awarded a competitive grant (RIBG) to upgrade the lab and equipment.