Thursday, 19 September 2013
Marae's and cemetery's are places where the dead and the living co-exist more obviously than others in society. Both are places of knowledge exchange - with the Marae perhaps being more visible in this process than the other. But, I believe that both involve dynamic interdimensional interaction - conversations between those in this world, and those in others.
To explore these multi-dimensional notions of place I have been working on two projects one in a large public cemetery in partnership with a suburban museum, the other with an urban Marae. These projects are in addition to my continued artistic engagement with a suburban park mentioned in the last post.
My work at the Papakura Marae has involved setting up a mobile phone based geo-reality based system which allows visitors to learn of its history, understand its current role in the community, and present plans for future development and expansion. Working with Marae founders and kaumatua, stories of the site, and images from its past, present and future were laid around the location so that they can be enjoyed at the pace of the user -with different artifacts and symbols 'locating' the stories in different smartpoints around the site. This Marae is innovative, dynamic and truly representative of Te Ao HuriHuri (the evolving world).
With the Museum, the content was already gathered for a brochure-based, and face to face group educational tour. I assisted their passionate and talented Curator to turn her researched material into a mobile experience that allows visitors to the cemetery to visit different graves and hear stories of pestilence, war, disaster, triumph and heroism from Papakura's past.
In both these cases it was interesting to explore the boundary between what is sacred and profane from different cultural perspectives, and also see how the spirit and spirits of places can be engaged with in a very real, and respectful way that supports learning and engagement with a location. Of course, there are issues with commodification, and post-modern consumption, great fodder for PHD students like myself. But there are also interesting points to consider to do with how augmented reality technologies allow us to access 'other dimensional' aspects of reality in a way that we could not necessarily envisage before. The boundaries of what we understand to be reality in the 21st century are truly blurring....