Dr Mitchell Whitelaw

Ian Maclean Award 2008

Topic: The Visible Archive applies cutting-edge visualisation techniques to large archival datasets as a way of exploring and understanding the relationships that give individual records their context
Dr Whitelaw presented his results at a public lecture at the National Archives in Canberra.

Biographical note

Dr Mitchell Whitelaw is an academic, writer and artist with interests in new media art and culture, especially generative systems and data aesthetics.

He has published in journals including Fibreculture, Leonardo, Contemporary Music Review, Digital Creativity and Media International Australia, and presented at conferences and festivals including Digital Arts and Culture, Dutch Electronic Arts Festival and Electrofringe. His research on a-life art was published as Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life (MIT Press, 2004).

His recent work spans theory and practice in generative art and design and data visualisation. He teaches in the Faculty of Design and Creative Practice at the University of Canberra, and blogs at The teeming void.


Dr Mitchell Whitelaw’s groundbreaking project for the 2008 Ian Maclean Award was called 'The visible archive'. Applying cutting-edge visualisation techniques to large archival datasets, Mitchell has developed new ways of exploring and understanding the relationships that give individual records their context. His research has generated considerable international interest, and suggests exciting new possibilities for public access to cultural heritage collections.

Dr Whitelaw describes the work in detail on his project blog, The Visible Archive. He also makes available two outcomes of the project – interactive Series Browsers that clearly demonstrate the power and possibilities of collection visualisation.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019