Songlines Art

Mapping the World with Songlines

This is a very special one. Songlines are living proof of mankinds’ ingenious methods for understanding and mapping the world around us; Though the aboriginal Songlines are unmistakably an expression of music and art, they are also a form of pre-literate navigation combined with oral mythological storytelling. Originating among the Aboriginal people of Australia, the songlines (also sometimes referred to as dreamtracks) narrate the route of numerous paths through the land, these paths have been orally transferred from one generation on to another. It is said that the paths have come to the Aboriginal people through dreaming or higher states of consciousness and creator-beings. The path of each creator-being is re-enacted through dance and sung lyrics and even include landmarks (like rock-formations, waterfalls, trees).

Native Indigenous Television Australia is broadcasting a new documentary series on these songlines. Made up of 8 short films from the remote regions of Western, Northern and Central Australia, the documentary series seeks to “share the creation stories that are the foundation of our country’s rich history,” says NITV’s channel manager, Tanya Denning-Orman. It is also a very important way for this oral tradition to remain alive as a lot of the songlines have been lost with the occupation of the continent by Western settlers. Director Cornel Ozies says:

“In order for our culture to survive, it must move from oral to documented. To record these Songlines to film is a natural progression. We must use any devices at our disposal to keep our traditions alive. The songs that the old people sing and pass along are about the country and the sacred places where songs belong.”

For the rest, we let the images in the trailer for ‘Songlines on Screen’ speak for itself: