Showcasing our research virtually in world-first online international arts, technology, and media festival

Research work from the Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation (along with partners from Massey University, Virginia Tech, and beyond) will feature in a world-first online exhibition showcasing creativity and technology as part of Ars Electronica, the prestigious media festival.

Mizuho Nishioka, Cadastral Recordings. (2020) Streaming data, deep sea water, physical computing, photography
Mizuho Nishioka, Cadastral Recordings. (2020) Streaming data, deep sea water, physical computing, photography

Ars Electronica is an annual art and technology festival held in Linz, Austria from 7-13 September. As one of the biggest media festivals in the world when held physically, the exhibition in Linz usually attracts more than 100,000 visitors over 5 days. The festival explores where art, technology, and society meet and overlap. It brings together over 1,000 artists and scientists from more than 40 countries.

This year, in response to COVID-19 they are taking the festival online, holding it digitally in collaboration with 120 festival partners across the world. The New Zealand Exhibition: Ars Electronica Garden Aotearoa New Zealand, curated by the University of Auckland, showcases the creative and emerging technology scene of the South Pacific. Featuring projects from architects, scientists, engineers, artists, and more from across the nation. Including two works from the Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation: ‘Architecture of the Sea’ by Dr Kerry HinesDr Mizuho Nishioka, Professor Wayne Barrar (Massey), Tane Moleta, and ‘*Geheimnis’ by DARA Digital, Tane Moleta, Professor Marc Aurel Schnabel, and current and former thesis students from the Wellington School of Architecture.

Both works are accessible via VR headsets present at the exhibition, as well as through an online portal. The team have created an engaging and unique viewing experience that allows the visitor to fully immerse themselves in the exhibition.

'An Architecture of the Sea' is an ongoing multi-disciplinary, cross-institutional research project that investigates the inshore and offshore ecologies of Moana New Zealand, mapping, encoding, and crafting an Architecture of the Sea. The work presents current research from the fields of Architecture, creative writing, and still and moving image, and explores the influence of the seas surrounding us via photography, virtual reality, and multi-media.

“This work has been percolating for a period of about two years,’ explains Tane Moleta. “While the work has been constantly evolving, these exhibitions are a recent windfall to the project and we’re ecstatic about being featured. It has been especially invigorating working with practitioners from different institutions and creative backgrounds.

“We have invested some considerable time, ensuring that the 'exhibit' displays the work of the artists, but also, though this new digital medium, it begins to unravel some aspects of exhibiting in 3D virtual space. It has been interesting, and also valuable exploiting the twin aspects of virtual space, and also notions of inhabitable space in terms of the sea,” says Tane.

Additionally, a suite of five works titled ‘Movements 2125-5887 NbNW' by Dr. Nishioka has been curated into the Ars Electronica .ART Global Gallery for which more than 4,000 submissions from around 100 countries were submitted.

*Geheimnis’ is an ongoing exploration undertaken by the Digital Architecture Research Alliance (DARA). Students from the Master of Architecture programme collaborated with Tane Moleta and Marc Aurel Schnabel on a story that takes visitors through ten magic discoveries of their *Geheimnis.

“*Geheimnis is a place that shares magical and secret discoveries of virtual reality. The artwork demystifies the intangible, the sensory, and the sacred. We lift the secret of how virtuality intersects with our reality,” explains Marc Aurel, Dean of the Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation.

Viewers can journey through the projects that explore the connections and relationships we have with our environment.

The Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation pieces showcase research efforts from the past five years, across multiple disciplines within design and the built environment.

“I am absolutely thrilled that our colleagues and students have been invited to exhibit their artworks at Ars Electronica. It is the premier location for electronic art and media worldwide,” says Marc Aurel.

“It’s very exciting to have our research is showcased on a world-stage alongside recognised international media-artists."

The exhibition launches on Wednesday 9th September, with a virtual opening night available for anyone to attend. At the launch there will be three keynote speakers including Marc Aurel Schnabel.