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Swinburne - Side by Side Australian EaaSI project launch
27 February, 2023

Game on: Australian Emulation Network LIEF project launches

The Australian Emulation Network: Accessing Born Digital Cultural Collections LIEF project was launched at Side-by-Side, a showcase of videogames and media artworks installed on original platforms and browser-based emulation.

AARNet is proud to be a partner on the Australian Emulation Network: Accessing Born Digital Cultural Collections LIEF project, led by Professor Melanie Swalwell at Swinburne University.

The project was launched on Friday February 10 at Swinburne as part of Side-by-Side, a showcase of videogames and media artworks installed on original platforms and a browser-based emulation platform called EaaSI (Emulation-as-a-Service Infrastructure).

The reception, sponsored by AARNet, attracted many guests from partner institutions including ACMI, Griffith University Art Museum, Art Gallery of NSW, State Library of NSW, NSLA plus artists and creators whose work was on show.

Melanie Swallwell hosted the reception and gave a comprehensive overview of the project, its participants and aims. Melanie’s research focuses on the creation, use, preservation, and legacy of complex digital artefacts such as videogames and media artworks. She has led and delivered major projects addressing this research. In 2021 her book Homebrew Gaming and the Beginnings of Vernacular Digitality was published by MIT Press.

James Verdon, Swinburne’s Dean, School of Social Sciences, Media, Film and Education, officially launched the Australian Emulation Network project, remarking on the importance of investing in research infrastructure and expressing excitement at the breadth of participation in this project. The project is funded under the Australian Government's Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) Scheme.

Carolyn Murphy, Head of Conservation at the Art Gallery of NSW and Candice Cranmer, ACMI’s Time-based Media Art and AV Conservator, spoke about the challenges faced by their institutions in ensuring the long-term preservation and access of digital collections.

Swinburne - Adam Bell Side by Side Australian EaaSI project launch

Adam Bell, AARNet’s Galleries, Archives, Libraries and Museums (GLAM) Relations lead, said he is looking forward to the outcomes of this collaboration. AARNet’s infrastructure will underpin this national scale platform that offers a crucial piece of digital preservation capability that will be offered as a shared service for the benefit of academic and GLAM participants. Beyond the project term, all Australian organisations, researchers plus members of the public will be able to take advantage of this service.

Six media artworks developed for Mac OS9 were shown, alongside the emulations in EaaSI running Sheepshaver. The artworks are Norie Neumark and Maria Miranda’s “Shock in the Ear” (1998), Michael Buckley’s “The Good Cook” (1998), “Haiku Dada” by Felix Hude (1993), John Collette’s “30 Words for the City” (1995), “Cyberflesh Girlmonster” by Linda Dement (1995) and Martine Corompt’s “Cute Machine” (1998).

Four games were exhibited as well, with Beam Software’s Nintendo Gameboy title “Choplifter” shown alongside the emulation running Game Boy Advance. Windows 98 game “Warlords III: Darklords Rising” (1998), developed by Strategic Studies Group and published by Red Orb Rising, was exhibited beside the emulation in QEmu. “Krazy Ivan” developed by Psygnosis (1995) was also included.

These games have been collected by ACMI and can be found in their catalogue of works. Visitors to ACMI at Fed Square can access them on site using their own devices. These Australian games were curated as part of the Play it Again project that precedes and informs the Australian Emulation Network.

Cynde Moya, Postdoctoral Fellow at Swinburne’s Digital Media Heritage Lab, was on hand at the event to discuss the works with guests. She assembled the Side-by-Side showcase, including piecing together the original vintage hardware, preparing works on obsolete digital carriers for emulation, and configuring the environments in EaaSI

Funded by the Australian Research Council, the large Australian Emulation Network consortium includes Australian universities, GLAM institutions, infrastructure partners AARNet and OpenSLX, and collaborators at Yale University, who have led the North American rollout of EaaSI.

Photo credit: Sarah Cornwill

More information

To find out more about the Emulation as a Service Infrastructure, please contact us.