Buried away in the chaos of Melbourne's Federation Square, ACMI will unearth your inner-digital geek.
Despite visiting Melbourne, and the city’s cultural heart – Federation Square, numerous times over the years, I had never visited the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. In fact, I didn’t even know it was there! I’d aimlessly wafted through the nearby courtyard, discovered the underground Visitor Centre and even made my way to the neighbouring The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia; never into ACMI. Despite my apparent lack of awareness, Australia’s national museum of film, TV, video games, digital culture and art is not to be missed.
The ACMI complex consists of various cinemas, galleries, cafes, bars, shops, studios and a mediatheque, spread over three levels. It’s is a busy place! For this review, however, I focus my energies on my favourite section, the free ‘Screen Worlds’ exhibition.
The areas maze-like arrangement, coupled with its dim lighting and vibrant digital displays, make it easy to lose your bearings. I’ll be honest, there is almost too much going on! I genuinely didn’t know where to start. Thank goodness for the free orientation tour.
It turned out to be a one-on-one walkabout with the guide. The early morning, non-school holiday time slot didn’t appear to attract to the general public, but it worked for me!
Screen Worlds explores the very origins of the moving picture; predating the invention of the cinematograph, back when ‘magicians’ used multi-slide illusions to trick their audiences. While most visitors weren’t around for this period, everybody who enters is guaranteed a nostalgia hit while meandering the masses of memorabilia. From mutoscopes to Minecraft, ATARI consoles to Astro Boy, there’s past sentimentality for every soul.
On top of the drift down memory lane, the 30-minute tour passes through the Games Lab station, the Voices of Australian screen, past the interactive Kids Space and finally into the mind-warping Sensation zone.
I have one piece of advice for when visiting the Screen Worlds exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image; explore all the corners. There are many hidden gems in the buildings’ various nooks; you simply won’t discover everything without thorough exploration.
The prime example being the spinning, strobing ‘Zoetrope’; by far my absolute favourite exhibition item. Tucked away in the Sensation zone, this tribute to Australian wildlife looks fairly innocuous at first but roars to life in a windstorm of colour, noise and all out mayhem. I tried to capture this movement via camera, iPhone, video, even slow-mo, alas nothing would do this piece justice. You’ll just have to check it out for yourself.
Get the lowdown.
Visiting ACMI is a great opportunity to catch the free City Circle tram that laps Melbourne CBD. Otherwise, jump off at Federation Square on any of the trams running along Swanston or Flinders Streets.