A Chatroom
is Worth
a Thousand Words




Trevor Van Weeren

Trevor is the son of Dutch immigrants who changed their surname, as so many immigrants did, in order to better fit in with the rest of society, when they arrived in Australia. Trevor changed it back.

As an educator, he has worked extensively with Aboriginal groups in the Northern Territory of Australia. As a digital artist, Trevor has a facility with the tools of the trade that would make you jealous if he wasn’t always so ready to share his skills with you.

In these palace rooms, Trevor explores his version of the theme: White fella meets Black fella. He has tried to revisit that point in his history when he started "interacting with indigenous people in a meaningful way". Each room is like a stepping stone along a path towards greater understanding.

So the first room, "Portal" symbolizes the time before he ever met an Aboriginal Australian. It is filled with words and images that represent the preconceived notions and the predetermined language that are brought to such a meeting. The words (such as "boy" "fears" "language" "200 years") and images (a kangaroo-crossing sign, the Australian flag, a game of cricket to one side; a rock painting; a black-and-white studio shot à la Edward Curtis, a poster of a Black man in ceremonial paint on the other.

Trevor applied perspective to the words and images to create a corridor, at the end of which is a beautiful animated scene –a blue sky and sea beckoning. The clever effect is very convincing: it really looks like there is something going on over in that other space that you should see. You can’t wait to click on it, and be transported.

You are taken straight to the coast where he used to live, to a beach where he "used to sit at a lot". It is the memory of his first meeting with Indigenous people: the two families waved at each other, and stay on their own sides of the beach. The bright colours and small scale of the scene (the people are each about three pixels wide) suggest a childhood memory, one that is without words, only gestures. After enjoying the view, you decide to do as you’re told and follow the boat that scoots in and out of the scene.

The next room looks very different again. Made up of only black and white silhouettes and text, it is a yin-and-yang image that describes the relationship between Trevor and his adopted son, Bukitju. The beautifully balanced composition features Australia in the background, and Trevor and Bukitju in front. The terse text, devoid of untrustworthy adjectives, tells their story.

The two rooms after this are from a series of paintings in which Trevor was trying to find images for words and feeling that do not exist. He explains, "Language is so difficult, it shapes us as much as we shape it." There is a feeling that language has failed us. As if to emphasize this point, upon entering these rooms your avatar becomes an empty speech balloon.

The last link opens up a flash movie called:

Short history of…

Remembering places

In which the people lead their lives

A mixture of video, music, photos and painting, it is an intimate look into his involvement with the Aboriginal community.


Click on a name below
to read more


Marilyn Burgess

Jason Lewis

Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew

Michelle Nahanee

Travis Neel


Sheila Urbanoski

Trevor Van Weeren