The Circus Oz Living Archive


  • CIrcus Oz
  • RMIT University
  • The Australian Research Council
  • The Australia Council for the Arts
  • La Trobe University


Circus Oz is an internationally recognized innovator in contemporary circus. Their unique performance aesthetic encourages a sense of shared community and carnivalesque participation. The Circus Oz Living Archive ( was designed to extend their trademark identity in the form of an online archive that utilised the affordances of networked digital technology, as a means to perform outside of the limitations of time, space and location. The archive was designed as an online digital platform that would enable Circus Oz to utilise their performance archive to engage their internal and external stakeholders and re-imagine audience participation.

Key Features


A Generous and Interactive Interface: From the home screen to the layers of personalised collections, the capacity for the archive to integrate personal narrative with historic fact have been the design premise for the interface design and user options. In this way, the site embraces a multimodal approach to communication. It is more than a site that tells, it is one that enables users to tell their way into the archive.


Representing time: The timeline is a key feature that combines data visualisation with video content & scene analysis, Circus Oz are able to see, access and annotate 30 years of video content in a single screen. This not only makes it easy to find a needle in their haystack of 1000+ hours of footage, it also help others recombine snippets of circus oz history into collections.


Innovative data management model: A core computational innovation is the development of a granular data model where the search unit of the video database is a clip. Whilst retaining the context of the whole video, a clip can be any fragment of a video, and collections of clips can represent acts within a show, a set of times that a particular performer appears on stage, a group of music segments, or even periods of applause. This maintains the integrity of a performance as a whole show, while allowing users to search, retrieve and view interesting excerpts, such as single acts.


Shareable & Customisable Collections: Shareable collections are the key feature that contribute to Circus Oz\’s business outcomes. By making it easy for anyone to select, comment and recombine fragments of their 30 year video history, Circus Oz have extended their engagement with audiences beyond the tent, and developed a new platform for rapid virtual repertoire development inside the circus. It is the integration of the timeline plus clips data management model that are the two foundational innovations that then enable individual collections.


Transparent and inclusive co-design approach: The digital archive has been designed through an interdisciplinary collaboration between Circus Oz and the RMIT based design team. It included interaction designers, new media specialists, circus performers, managers and creative directors. The project was funded through the Australian Research Council and the Australia Council for the Arts, with the ambition that it would be an exemplar for future developments for other performing arts organisations. A public API is downloadable from the site. (

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