This month we are very happy to share a great project which was part of Intercreate’s Media Art Projects. Pattern Recognition is a collaborative project which explores cultural exchange and the juxtaposition of technology and traditional materials.
Two of the most important themes in contemporary electronic arts practice are those of network communication and of engagement across cultural borders. Pattern Recognition is the result of a collaboration between Aroha Timoti-Coxon a weaver based in Hokitika and Vicki Smith an artist based in Harihari.
Together they constructed a work of contemporary culture, a QR code created through the woven art of tukutuku. While QR codes which can trigger the opening of web pages and web-based media may seem distant from traditional Maori weaving, the two have interconnections.
Both are forms of storytelling that are encoded in a formal visual language of positive and negative. The ‘binary code’ of weaving and the information held by a QR image are similar to the codified stories told through the patterns of tukutuku. In terms of digital heritage, it is acknowledged that an important historical step in the development of intelligent machines (which later became computers), was the Jacquard weaving loom.
The process of creating tukutuku can also be described as a conversation between two weavers, who pass the ara (thread) to one another from different sides of the panel. This is mirrored in the collaboration of Smith and Timoti-Coxon, and also in the connection of the QR code to the internet.
The site of the work in the Westland library highlights the link the library has to the World Wide Web as the biggest repository of ‘woven information’ [Tukutuku-Ao-Whanui]. Creating a working QR code at a scale of one metre high using tukutuku method, required experimentation as the demands for QR codes are precise.
Way of the Turtle is a collaboration between Yorta Yorta researcher Lee Joachim and artist Tracey Benson, initiated in 2014.
It is a multi-dimensional initiative exploring interconnected themes of place, country, health, creativity, technology skills transfer, intergenerational and intercultural knowledge sharing. We are focused on how these interactions could benefit the Yorta Yorta community through creative collaboration. For example, one dimension of Way of the Turtle is the creation of art works that express these interconnected themes.
In January 2016, Lee and Tracey participated in a symposium and residency event in Aotearoa New Zealand – Water, Peace, Power (WPP) where they developed an installation at Parihaka Pa. The installation titled Exchanging Breath used a combination of story and song in Māori, Yorta Yorta and English with LEDs driven by patterns in turtle data from Yorta Yorta country.
The sound element of the work presented vocals of Parihaka descendent Jo Tito and Yorta Yorta Elder Sharon Atkinson, combining Māori, Yorta Yorta and English languages and stories.
This project is seen as a prototype to create a larger work that would be the result of ongoing community engagement. At WPP Lee and Tracey collaborated with Nigel Helyer, Martin Drury, Andrew Hornblow and Allan Giddy to create the work.
Another dimension of Way of the Turtle is the research that underpins it.
Through the collaboration a longitudinal approach is being applied and a methodology has been created that is informed by transdisciplinary approaches, action research, phenomenology and user centred design. The Way of the Turtle is supported by key scientific researchers Professor Dave Griggs, Deirdre Wilcox and Professor Ross Thompson, who have long-standing research relationships with Lee Joachim and Yorta Yorta Nation.
In April 2016, Way of the Turtle was presented at Balance UnBalance , where Lee and Tracey shared updates of the project through blogs and online discussion via Twitter.
Also in April 2016, Lee and Tracey presented a paper at the Land Dialogues conference in Wagga Wagga. Their paper outlined in detail their methodology and approach to intergenerational knowledge sharing, building strong communities and creative participation should be published later in 2016.