In December 2001, the online journal Ctheory Multimedia accepted a proposal for me to produce a website that explored my experiences of the action at Woomera Detention Centre. This site, titled Highway of shame was a documentation of my experiences using a combination of hypertext, still digital photographs and moving images.
The images used in the website came from two sources; some were taken from my digital video documentation and the others were copy-left images downloaded from the Indymedia website.
The final website not only covered the events of September 2001, I also included pages that documented a national protest at the opening of parliament on 12 February 2002, and a page referring to the Woomera2002 protest where detainees were able to escape the compound assisted by protesters.
The main intention of this website was to link words that evoked the events of that day, not in a documentary sense; rather the aim was to relate a personal and emotive response to that day and the ongoing issue of refugees in detention. The word play is cyclical; as to navigate along certain link paths sometimes will bring you back to the same page, as a means of reinforcing certain aspects of the narrative.
Themes of alienation, displacement and disempowerment were the main issues that developed the project on a conceptual level. However, there were also many positive and proactive word plays to signal that the cause was not futile: hope, community, together.
The initial concept for the design of the site was to make the navigation link in a way that users could move around in a layered circle. This way, if a user was on any particular page they would not be able to go back to a page where they had already been – unless they were on the last screen, then they could jump to a range of links in the website. The intention behind this use of navigation was not to necessarily create a linear or hierarchical narrative, but to get the user to focus on one specific section of the story before they move to the next area or page.
The project attempted to incorporate both history and memory into the narrative, and in doing so sought to address issues related to personal and public notions of experience. After attending Debra Beattie’s talk at the National Museum of Australia in April 2005, it was encouraging to know that there was someone else around that was interested in dealing with history and memory, in her online documentary Wrong Crowd.