transmissions from earth :::

photo: Gina Kaltipli, Further Arts
How does wisdom travel?

What is Cascade Network?

Our mission is to put emerging communication technologies in service to the communication and cultural needs faced by communities relocating or in transition.

Cascade Network is researching and protoyping the creation of self-sovereign cultural and communication networks with communities in the Pacific. Each network is designed and owned by the community itself.

We explore possibilities to support the communication of community wisdom through emphasising traditional creative practices and designing explorative workshops with emerging technologies like Mixed Reality, Web VR and blockchain. Artistic community workshops use 360 video, binaural audio recording, photogrammetry and experimental interactive solutions towards documenting stories, living wisdom and oral tradition with techniques that emphasise embodied communication and the land.


The Cascade Network has origin in 2015 at ONCA Gallery’s Festival of Climate Ideas and the #ArtCop21 during the Climate Talks in Paris 2015. The creative protests during Cop21 brought together activists, artists, technologists and earth citizens to stand together for the planet and listen to the communities on the front lines of the Climate Crisis. 

During the meeting in Paris, a relationship with the Leweton Community in Vanuatu, the NGO [Further Arts]( and the Cascade project was initiated through artists Sandy Sur, Kate Genevieve and Tom Dick with the support of Sarah Doyle, Dr Leah Barclay and the Balance Unbalance Network.

Festival of Climate Ideas ONCA ︎︎

ArtCop21 ︎︎

Creative communities

The Cascade grew through strong relationships between the Leweton Cultural Village, Further Arts, TransArtAlliance, Intercreate, Balance Unbalance, ONCA Gallery, Hitnet, Good of the Whole and WISN and connects diverse networks working across arts, media and indigenous rights.

During the evacuation of Ambae in 2017, the Ambae community asked Further Arts to support them in recording the stories of the island as community members relocate to nearby islands. This invitation galvanised the Cascade Network to explore mobilising the creative and radical potentials of emerging digital technologies towards holding cultural knowledge with the aim of creating research in support of the cultural sovereignty of Pacific communities.

The network works together with the intention that - with trust, care and mutual respect - the evolution of progressive network technologies can be in service to creative communities strengthening their cultural ownership in ways that respect and emphasise diverse ways of knowing.


VISUAL ESSAY on creative projects ︎︎


Ambae // Network Prototype

We start at the beginning:

stories create value

photo: Gina Kaltipli, Further Arts

The Cascade Network is a creative R&D project looking to strengthen the work of Further Arts in supporting communities on the islands of Vanuatu record their own stories and culture as they respond to environmental disaster. 

In 2018 The Independent ran the story of how Further Arts‘ cultural documentation during the Ambae evacuations of 2017 supported resilience and nurtured confidence. The people’s Paramount Chief, Benuel Garae, the President of the Ambae Island Council of Chiefs, has invited Further Arts to help the community document the stories of Ambae on their own terms as they face permanent evacuation due to the unstable activity of the island’s volcano. 

The Cascade Network looks to support and enrich creative documentation through community led workshops exploring cutting edge immersive techniques and the development of a digital network to hold immersive recordings in collaboration with Vanuatu Cultural Centre.

Emphasis is placed on techniques that emphasise accessibility and embodied communication (eg. XR (Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality), 360 Recordings and photogrammetry of the island). The project researches community response and recomendations for community owned immersive web portals - accessible to mobile phones on Vanuatu - that can support and encourage cultural expression during extreme periods (eg. rebuilding after Hurricanes and forced migration.) 
When communities are forced to relocate to neighbouring towns or islands there are serious questions around resources, work and how to continue creating value to sustain the displaced.

The Cascade Network is working with network technologies to explore how a specific value that a story creates can find digital life and also be inscribed in a craft object. These story objects can be embedded with the coding of their own digital provenance creating fresh possibilites for hybrid forms evolving craft practices and value exchange.

With partners in acoustic ecology we have developed bespoke prototype technology built on open source RSA Public/Private key encryption, and utilising digital signatures and hash functions to establish and leverage digital provenance. This creates similar possibilities to those that underly blockchain technology, but is open source and public, and can enable further features and flows of knowledge and value. Inherent to this work is community leadership. Open tools can allow for further evolutions and the potential for additional functionality to grow to support the needs of unique particular communities with network solutions.

The features of the Prototype created are:

photo: Gina Kaltipli, Further Arts
  • The design privileges place-based (or localised, locative, or local) intangible cultural heritage (ICH), without excluding physical objects and artefacts.

  • The physical object itself is the output of dynamic processes of ICH (in other words: creative currency.)

  • The functions (the rules, the codes, the laws) of digital provenance are performed by the specific community eg. through the production of woven pandanus mats which are patterned with traditional dyes.

  • The system does not exist to create assets for speculation on the Crypto markets, but to mirror and support the logic underpinning forms of creativity indigenous to Ambae eg. creating value through the weaving of pandanus mats.

  • The value created is an emergent currency, which requires no Reserve Bank or Mint. It facilitates the distributed allocation of resources and is operated by participants in the community.

A cascade network for culture and knowledge to enable Self-sovereign Co-operatively owned infrastructure

The design of this system allows for value to be attached to cultural products in ways that are being defined and determined locally (i.e by the specific community in Vanuatu). The details of how this value exchange would be set up is community driven and there is flexibility inscribed which allows choices to be made around what to share and what not to share. For example, it is possible for the community to decide to release digital traceable objects reflective of craft whilst limiting access to recorded local knowledge, and sharing this with only the community network. 

Choice and consent is the domain of the community: the Cascade Network’s emphasis on local nodes and collaborative workshops is to strengthen the basis for a network of culture and knowledge on the terms, and under the direction of, communities in Vanuatu.

Community, Ecology and Technology Innovation

This is an experimental research project in service to community leadership and as such will develop as relationships grow across time. 

The alternative currencies of Vanuatu - the continued production of Shell Money on some islands and the pandanus practices indigenous to Ambae - encode a rich historical understanding of innovating value systems. The Cascade looks to meet what already thrives on the islands with collaborative workshops and technical support so that community knowledge is supported to direct the logic and design of a digital system to facilitate flows of cultural value.

Technology networks can potentially give formalised support to vastly extend the reach of cultural creativity. Defining how that value will be organised is a creative act and belongs to creatives in the communities themeselves. The project works through the Cascade Network’s partners Further Arts and their decades of experience facilitating community meetings and creative workshop in Vanuatu. 

Blog Posts

a journey in co-creating

photo: Gina Kaltipli, Further Arts

The Dung Verei Festival 

photo: Gina Kaltipli, Further Arts
Delly and Sarah discovered a vital connection to the continuing practice of shell money production in the Solomon Islands on thier first journey recording shell money interviews. They also found a kinship connections between the Gaua community and the Solomon Islands community that was confirmed by Chief Polwyn. 

To support these connections becoming more visible we applied for funding for a small group of people from Gaua, representives from Santo and also the Solomon Islands to a meeting on the revival of shell money at the Dung Verei Festival, held in conjunction with TORBA Day (Oct 1-2). The opportunity to support space for communities from the more remote island of Ureparapara - custodians of a slightly different lineage of shell money production - as well as others from Vanua Lava, and Mota Lava to communicate around Shell Money practices is invaluable.

October’s Dung Verei Festival is a local celebration of performance and traditional customary activities known locally as kastom, such as music, dance, craft and shell money practices and food preparation. It is recognised as a key community meeting and one of the best opportunities for community workshops.

This year Sandy Sur is working hard on the organisation of the festival and a media team - led by Vanuatu media practioners from Further Arts - attend the meeting to record stories and create media. An invitation was also made to a delegation from the Tulalip community in the North West Pacific and WISN based in Hawaii towards creative connection and community co-design of value networks, but this is dependent on funding.