Australia, 2022

Commissioned by ACMI

Artwork ACMI commissions First Nations

“Tracing the material and cultural implications of extraction and storage, DIGGERMODE is a generative behind-the-servers look into how memory works within platform capitalism.”

DIGGERMODE questions the social and environmental ethics of technology in constructing, storing and sharing our images, whether in surveillance databases, museum archives or online. With artificial intelligence (AI), Joel Sherwood Spring has created landscapes in the style of acclaimed Arrernte artist Albert Namatjira being torn apart by mining machinery, and has trained another AI to answer questions like “Who’s your Mob?” Presumably, anyone could do this – but should anyone be able to appropriate Indigenous art from the internet? How do we protect our knowledges in digital spaces? Can sand used to make silicon microchips contain memories of Country?

Joel’s work confronts the viewer with uncomfortable and overlooked aspects of our hyper-networked age, grounding the possibilities of ‘the cloud’ and AI in the broader context of ongoing colonisation. The work considers the environmental damage caused by new technology and data storage, and how it is Indigenous peoples whose lands and ways of being are profoundly impacted by capitalism’s extractive processes.

Videographer: Akil Ahamat

Script advisor: Enoch Mailangi

Sound production: Bridget Chappelle

This work contains First peoples content

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In ACMI's collection

Previously on display

19 February 2023

ACMI: Gallery 4



Joel Sherwood Spring



Production places
Production dates

Collection metadata

ACMI Identifier




Subject category

Digital Art

Curatorial section

How I See It: Blak Art and Film → Zone 6






28 min 51 sec

Object Types



Two-channel video installation


5920 times

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If you would like to cite this item, please use the following template: {{cite web |url=https://acmi.net.au/works/121854--diggermode/ |title=DIGGERMODE |author=Australian Centre for the Moving Image |access-date=22 February 2024 |publisher=Australian Centre for the Moving Image}}