World’s largest media festival comes to Wellington

Starting 16 June 2022, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington will host Ars Electronica: Garden AOTEAROA, a partner event of Ars Electronica—the largest media festival in the world.

Ars Electronica uses the digital revolution as an opportunity to explore technologies and interrogate potential futures. The festival consists of exhibitions, performances, concerts, and symposia that speculate about our future and aim to provoke action and philosophical debate.

Aotearoa New Zealand has been offered a unique opportunity to partner with the main festival, which is held in Linz, Austria. The DARA Lab at the University’s Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design, along with the arc/sec Lab in the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning, have joined together to showcase projects from New Zealand artists, musicians, scientists, and researchers.

Visitors to the exhibition will experience around fifteen installations and performances, including Maritime_Trace_Exposure, an interactive narrative from the artist group An Architecture of the Sea. The group was co-founded by Mizuho Nishioka and Tane Moleta from the Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design, who co-create with fellow researchers and experienced artists Wayne Barrar and Dr Kerry Hines, who is also a Te Herenga Waka alumna.

Maritime_Trace_Exposure utilises photography, poetry, and virtual space to create a new maritime space through simulations and imagining technologies. The work contrasts the imagined space with the ‘real world’ maritime space and explores sampling and observation of the sea in a new way.  One part of the work examines both real and artificial fish scales and questions the concepts of ‘real’ and ‘virtual’, while another combines subterranean landform data and streaming weather patterns to create a new virtual landscape. The installation is based on various samples taken from and observations made at marine sites in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Another work featured in the exhibition is LightSense. LightSense is the latest interactive extended reality installation by Uwe Rieger and Yinan Liu from the University of Auckland’s arc/sec Lab. The kinetic construction combines a lightweight structure with 3D holographic animations. An integrated AI system, trained to learn hundreds of thousands of poems, allows the structure to engage, lead, and sustain conversations with the audience. Analysing the emotional tenor of this conversation, the system can perform autonomous architectural behaviours, immersing the visitors in Pavilions of Love, Anger, Curiosity, and Joy.

Ars Electronica: Garden AOTEAROA is supported by Creative New Zealand’s Arts Grant.

To see the full exhibition programme, visit