Sunday, 26 May 2013


Photo: Maggie Buxton
My inter-arts Matariki Exhibition: 'Place' ran from 24 to 29th June at Papakura Art Gallery, and was on site at a local Papakura Park.

‘Place’ allowed you to engage with material on monitor in a traditional gallery space, and via the screens of your mobile device (via a website on the internet). Through these two ‘portals’ the audience accessed a multiplicity of images and sounds sampled from a suburban Papakura park.

'Place' told the story of my conversation with a location through collaboration across different disciplines, and work in different media. Collecting material involved conversations with local residents and descendants of settlers, work with scientists, hobbyists and consultation with different representatives of mana whenua. All have in some way supported through providing expertise, resources, and aroha. 

The exhibition was at once an artistic engagement with a location, an educational and an opportunity for local residents to appreciate the great taonga next to which they reside.

The exhibition was transdiscipinary in nature, blurring spiritual, scientific and artistic lines. The exhibition represented a strong connection with the location, and a deep respect for the spirit of the land.

Photo: Maggie Buxton/Papakura District Council Document
After a blessing by a representative of local iwi, and permission from Auckland City Council Parks, I worked for six months intensively gathering, conversing, meditating, and investigating the location.  I was also supported by Papakura Marae during this process.

Over time, and with the assistance of key individuals, seven key points of interest were identified which form a trail around the park. These points then became the focus for intensive activity of different kinds. Microscopic, macro, timelapse, underwater and aerial images were collected with my mobile phone. (The aerial footage involved strapping my phone to a helicopter drone provided by an enthusiastic hobbiest). I also used different kinds of microphones (XLR H4N Zoom; hydrophones and a homemade contact microphone) to take layers of sound samples.
Photo: Maggie Buxton

Off site, I gathered documents and archival material with the assistance of Papakura Museum, South Auckland Research Library, Auckland City Council Archives , Auckland Council Cultural Heritage Inventory (CHI)Archives NZ. Nancy Hawks (nee Smith), a direct descendent of the original European farmers in the area, was very kind to provide me with family photos from her personal collection.  I also connected with a local Maori woman who grew up in the area and who shared a little of her childhood history with the location.

It is important to note that while I undertook research, and was told of some aspects of the earlier Maori history of the park, I felt it was important to be respectful of local iwi traditions and protocols and so did not  relay stories that belonged to local iwi. I did however insert material that represented what I had been told about the interconnected history and linkages with other sites in that area to ensure the site was seen in a larger context.

Photo: Nathan Scott/Maggie Buxton
Later in the process, Nathan Scott and Professor Nikolas Kasabov from KEDRI assisted me to record my brain activity at different points in the park using Emotiv - a headset that reads your brain. Video extracts from the recordings around the points are included.  

Photo: John Brooks/Maggie Buxton
I also approached Applied Sciences at AUT and asked Professor John Brooks and Dr John Robertson to assist me with scientific sampling. Dr Robertson, together with his PHD student (Joshua Thoreson) helped me gather and analyse soil samples. Dr Brooks provided microscopic images of mould, pond life, mushrooms and other items collected from points across the park. 

I put all of the material together using Aftereffects, Premiere Pro, and Audacity. I then mixed the material on-site using a VJ mixing programme called Resolume and a trusty little portable table.

Photo: Maggie Buxton/Papakura District Council File
The final Gallery installation was a composition of the seven different videos mixed at each of the seven points. At the Gallery, you listened to the Park with headphones and view the mixes and layers of images on a monitor. Booklets available at the Gallery guided you to the park site where you accessed (with instructions) a website using Imersia Group Software which utilises the GPS of your mobile device. Once at that location, you then viewed the same material as in the Gallery, but also engaged more fully with the site from which it was collected, or to which it is connected.

'Place' is an ongoing exploration and relationship with the site. It was supported by a number of individuals and organisations but I wish to particularly acknowledge: Ted Ngataki; Tony Kake, Brian Joyce and Haare Williams for their support for my spirit during this process.

The exhibition occurred from 24-29 June, Papakura Art Gallery. There was an Artist Talk at the gallery Tuesday 25 June 6-7pm, and a Talk and Walk 29th June at Gallery - then on Park site. The video from the Gallery exhibition (the compiled, long version) is available for viewing here.

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