Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Supervision Meeting 19/4

Supervision Meeting:
Ask Ruth about dissertation.
Situating the piece of writing as a part of the submission:
- What function does it have relating to the whole?
- Choosing a writing mode
- History/background to the project – methods of engagement – outcomes/discussion of project.
- Where are the focus points?

To consider:

- Mass communication theory – re scientists thinking artists have more accessible work – gallery audience is just as self moderating as those who read scientific journals although those aren’t two groups which usually overlap.
- How to change the audience? Public art etc?
- What evolutions can art make/conversions made previously (look up land art, Francis Alys etc.)
- What is the value of a new set of images? Victor Burgen – appropriated images
- Sets dependent on photographer (Rob’s set etc)
- Photos looking away from glacier/from glaciers perspective – Mark Adams
- Issues that surround the project/methods and modes/limitations
- Methods of engagement – outcomes?
- Tourism/Science lense
- Activities at the location
- Tourist pull cards (extreme sport, grand scenery and maori culture)
- Intervention
- Poetic way to author work, vs intellectual authoring of new meaning through existing images
o Political implications of both?
- Photographs – temporary, slice of time. Is photography the main mode?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses?
- How do you activate its power and what effect can it have.
- Land artists – alys, hector Zamora etc – poetic gestures
- How do you combine a poetic gesture with empirical data?
- Intricate arguments? Why do we have apathy?
- Narrowing subject further – being aware of the other dialogues it will touch upon but focussing on something very specific.
- Image vs action  could the scientists carry out the action?
- Object through process.
- What kind of gesture – would need a light touch, within limits of what could be carried in and out etc.
- Development of a set of gestures in preparation for returning to the landscape?
- Limitations of working within large landscape etc... talk to DOC find out what’s possible etc.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Point of Departure

Finding a punctum/point of departure/stoppage is key.

The unexpected that allows the viewer to access the concept...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wise words from Danny Butt (for the record)

"Preparing for a course of study always involves making a relatively large proposition that inevitably falls apart as the process of making begins (at least, that is my experience both as a student and a supervisor). Every beginning is usually made in swampy terrain, often out of frustration from a no-longer bearable not-working rather than any clear direction! So in that way, I think it's valuable to think of the fear or the rut not as wasted time but the formation of potential, like the way a lightning storm doesn't just appear from a cloud, but is the result of a long feedback process of low-intensity ice-collisions that build charges that eventually lead to the lightning event."


Thursday, March 31, 2011


The past couple of weeks have been quite tumultuous in so far as I feel that I have been hit by a great wall of information and the realisation of my unknowing has flattened me.

I had a good first meeting with my supervisors, Alex Montieth for studio and Danny Butt for writing; they both provided a lot of information and suggested I take a few weeks to do a wide amount of reading to decide what it is I'm actually interested in portraying. Alex in particular noted that within my work there are several huge narratives, namely climate change, art/science data conversion, national identity construction, green myth and the sublime. 

Any one of these on their own could be the topic for a dissertation, although my view of them is that they're intrinsically intertwined. That's fine for an essay of some length (I'm aiming for 13,500 words) - I think there will be enough space within that to tease out the (perceived) connections - but it's too much for an artwork to encapsulate. The more I look at what is deemed "successful" contemporary art (whatever that may mean, which is a different entry entirely) the more I am convinced that simple is best.  Simple not necessarily in the sense of construction, which can be quite elaborate, but simple in that the idea is distilled and clear. 
With this in mind, it seems quite obvious to me that I must decide exactly what it is I want to say with my art this year.

I have been doing a fair bit of reading around national identity construction in New Zealand, as well as looking at the history of the postcard. The show Emil McAvoy and I proposed (although we do not yet know if it has been accepted) was centred firmly in this arena, so it felt like a logical place to start. In the process of this I came across writing by Claudia Bell, (see previous entry on Rural NZ and potentially following entries) who I have discovered works at the University of Auckland. I have scheduled a meeting with her this morning, and will take my dictaphone with me. I hope to discuss this our national mythology/ideology with her further, and see if she can elaborate the link with the "national green wash" and apathy toward climate change. I'm also keen to see if she thinks change is possible, or if semiotic resistance is the only viable option; real change seems untenable at the moment, particularly with the current government. If this is the only form of resistance, is it valid/valuable to make art about it still, or would I be better off focussing on something more tangible and having the semiotic resistance as an added bonus?
I think this is something I need to decide soon.

I have been reading a fair bit on new media ecological art; art which utilises new technologies to explore ecological discourses; "ecomedia". From the small amount I have read on it, it involves a lot of collaboration. Andrea Polli is one of the most well known artists practicing in this field, and I find her writing fascinating. I do have access to the scientists who are working on the Tasman glacier, so I feel I should probably utilise that if I can. It would be a steep learning curve to work out some of the technology, but it feels like it might be worth it - and it also feels contemporary.

As far as climate change goes - I keep being given really good links to websites that discuss it, and I have so much research about contemporary arts engagement with the subject, I just need to figure out where I stand on that. I'm not sure I want to make art specifically about climate change, although it is something that continues to stimulate my interests, and given my subject matter it's probably impossible to avoid those associations. I'd rather people were examining their own behaviour than debating about whether or not climate change is happening. Whether you subscribe to the belief of anthropogenic climate change or not, I think it's impossible to deny that humans in New Zealand are having and have had an adverse affect on our natural environment. I think it's better to address these things on a localised scale, because if you look too big, then people are overwhelmed and shut down.

Of course in New Zealand you can't say that we're not green because our economy is dependent on Tourist Dollars which arrive at our shores on the back of that idea.

In MFA reading group the other day we were discussing the need to understand the complex aparatus that you live in in order to challenge or subvert it, and I feel that is where I'm going with this reading/research. There is a lot to digest, although I've just found that I have a lot of research from last year which I sourced, and probably quoted in my essay, which I didn't engage with fully. Being a tutor for second year reading groups has really made me focus on reading skills and getting the full meaning out of a text. I realise that up until now I have been working within my own knowledge base; writing what I want to write then finding the appropriate source to cite which backs up my argument, without ever completely digesting the texts. Anything can look right if you construct it to do so. I suppose in a sense I am feeling a bit guilty that I got through four years of undergrad being 'intelligently lazy' - I think I've done myself a disservice; if I'd read in the manner I am now for the past four years, I'd be a lot further ahead.  I discussed this with Lucille, and she disagreed somewhat - she reminded me that the more you know the more you have the capacity to understand, and that I wouldn't have been able to read like this had I not done some research during undergrad. My peers are also quick to point out that my work is often much more informed than I give it credit for.

I've also been struggling with the emphasis that the tutors are putting on becoming a commercial artist with gallery representation. I have missed the professional practice lectures that Quay School provided, and the candid nature of the artists that presented them. I remember being told that if your practice does not lend itself to being commercial, that you may have to consider making 'bread and butter' art (art which is commercially viable) on the side to support your practice. Of course there are other ways to support the art habit, teaching being one of them, but it does seem that our tutors all have gallery representation.
How they got that representation is another story, and one that no one seems willing to share.

Another issue that has suddenly appeared at MFA level is that of ethics approval. When the Ethics Committee visited us at the start of the year most of us left afterwards realising that had we needed to do this through undergrad our practices would have been vastly different. I had debate with Lucille Holmes (who I work as a tutor with on the 204 Critical Studies course) yesterday about how it would impact on students if it were required all the way through. Restricting your practice to within university ethics restrictions is very difficult to comprehend after four years of art education, having been given examples of contemporary art which does push the envelope and encouraged to do the same throughout.

It's all complicated, and there's lots to think about.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Icebergs from the Feb 22 Calving on the Tasman Lake. Original image by Stefan Winkler. Used with permission.

Seismograph sourced and adapted from

Not sure how I feel about either of them at this stage, though leaning towards the more subtle one -
It still feels pretty forced but according to Matt I should be making work every day. So here you go, Matt. Work.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Georgia Papageorge, Kilimanjaro – Southern Glaciers, 1898, 2010, mixed media on canvas, with inkjet print taken from the earliest known photograph of the glaciers, and lines of poured ash from the ash cone of Kilimanjaro itself, 
230 x 140 cm

sourced from:
Coldfire/Kilamanjaro  by Georgia Papageorge, a South African artist.
The red lines are taken from temperature graphs

"The mountain that came to be known as Kilima 'njaro' (Mountain of Greatness) is the tallest freestanding volcanic mountain in the world, with a unique, self-contained ecological system that makes it an ideal barometer of climate change. Papageorge's renderings of Kilimanjaro, in which she applies vertical striations of poured volcanic ash - running tears for an irreparable loss - transform it into an iconic African symbol of mourning."

"The geological and sociological sense of schism or rift within Africa and indeed the rest of the world, increasingly asserted itself in the artist's consciousness. She explores this as a key metaphor in her art. Eventful journeys undertaken from Pretoria up the Great East African Rift Valley to Tanzania and back in 2006 and 2007, provided Papageorge with such shocking fresh evidence of the effects of climate change as well as the highly illegal and dangerous charcoal trade that is carried out in most Central African countries, that her focus shifted from earlier ideas about transcendence, to the urgent matter of documentation."

Having just found this I feel quite inspired. This artist has taken a first hand experience of climate change/loss/a sublime landscape/tangible location(ash), and transmuted it into an art experience which provokes an emotional response in a viewer. I'm sure over time looking at the image I'll be less convinced - I think that there is definite potential to expand on this kind of juxtaposition - especially given the plethora of scientific imagery and historical photography I have access to - it would be also nice to look at current imagery potentially - lots to bounce off - finally thinking in (visual) art terms.


List of artists who use science!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The 'Real' New Zealand: Rural Mythologies Perpetuated and Commodified."

Bell, Claudia. "The 'Real' New Zealand: Rural Mythologies Perpetuated and Commodified." The Social Science Journal Volume 34 Number 2 (1997): 145-58.

“...versions of the real New Zealand’ draw from romantic, nostalgic and invented versions of the past, and of rural way of life.” P.145

- The myths we live by --> Samuel and Thompson (Book – to look up?)

“developing a national ideology that sustained a new way of life, drawing from the values and mythologies from the British past e.g. rural idyll, the bourgeois Victorian Family. ‘Rural Arcadia’ (an idyllic way of life within nature) and ‘familial Arcadia’ in particular are options that still persist as components of the ‘great way of life.” P.146

The legend of the pioneering New Zealanders perpetuated as happy rural families working together in nature as a “central strand” of Pakeha mythology. P.146

“Myth is definitively collective, across generations, beyond time and space limits.” P.148

“The ‘tourist’ is seen as saviour in many parts of New Zealand, where unemployment is high; or where depopulation has resulted from a lack of opportunities locally.” P.148

“Being observed [by the ‘outside’ world] encouraged processes of reflection that lead to cultural elaboration.” P.148

“Wilful nostalgia as a form of cultural politics has ... been an aspect of globalization (1990. P.50)” Robertson cited in Bell P.145

“Local culture has to be assertive and self validating to survive” P.154

“Mediated representation reframes the ideology and delivers it in the form of popular mythology” P.154 (usually delivered by advertising media)

“Reality now is a process of symbolic exchange suggesting ‘commodity fetishism’ as ideology. Ideology, culture and representation are all absorbed into the ‘total communication’ of the commodity... all communication, all culture in postmodern society is mass cultural ‘simulation’.” P.157 Baudrillard in Bell

- Baudrillard --> Cool Memories. 1990 (book)

On nostalgia, Bell cites MacCannell:
“every society necessarily has another society inside itself and beside itself: its past epochs and eras and its less developed and more developed neighbours. Modern society, only partly disengaged from industrial structures, is especially vulnerable to overthrow from within through nostalgia, sentimentality and or tendencies to regress to a previous state, a “Golden age” , which retrospectively always appears more orderly or normal.” (1992.p82) P.153-4.
“remnants of dead traditions are essential components of the modern community and consciousness...reminders of our break with the past and with tradition... nature and the past are made part of the present... as revealed objects, as tourist attractions. (1976. Pp.83-34) P.154

Citing Davis (Yearning for yesterday):
“nostalgia as a process attends to and serves needs for continuity and ‘comforts sameness’.” P154

Bell insists that: “Nostalgia is a proactive and aggressive colonizing tool in constructing the hyper-real.” P.154


Claudia Bell of the University of Auckland, Department of Sociology, wrote ‘The Real New Zealand’ in 1997. The article discusses the way in which perceptions of ‘Real’ New Zealand are fabricated by nostalgia and cultural myths of a romantic, rural history (145). Bell asserts that the creation of a national ideology was essential for early settlers to adapt to a new environment and whilst incorporating the ideals and myths of the British bourgeois Victorian family. Indeed it seems even today that the “happy rural family working together in the natural environment... is the central strand of legends and mythology of Pakeha in New Zealand”(146).
According to Bell, cultural myth is “definitively collective, across generations, beyond time and space limits” (148). It facilitates the acceptance of traditions as behavioural guidelines and provides foundations for common attitudes and beliefs (148).

In New Zealand, the perpetuation of a rural mythology has become so ingrained that it has become “popular nostalgia” (148). This nostalgia has taken on a commercial value in small communities that are economically dependent on tourism. This in turn has perpetuated and cemented the myths within our culture (148). Bell insists that people feel that local culture “has to be assertive and self validating to survive”(154). In an age of multi-nationalism and globalization the perpetuation of the “Rural Idyllic” myth has become even more ingrained in our national ideology. It is widely disseminated by popular culture, in particular advertising, which “reframes the ideology and delivers it in the form of popular mythology” (156). This commercialisation of culture/nostalgia is described by Baudrillard as “a process of symbolic exchange, suggesting ‘commodity fetishism’ as ideology. Ideology, culture and representation are all absorbed into the ‘total communication’ of the commodity... all culture in postmodern society is mass cultural ‘simulation’. (1991. P.41 cited in Bell 157).

The article is written as “semiotic resistance” or subversion; attempts at resistance through semiotic power, when economic power is elusive (157), which suggests the author would like to see these cultural constructs challenged, whilst simultaneously acknowledging that economically it is unviable to do so.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Andrea Polli

Ear room interview is very interesting.  Discusses the motivation for getting into Art/Science and audio ecology. Links with: 
and talks about audio ecology. Am still making sense of these things.
Primary response to the glacier was involved in the potential for sound recording - MFA cohort responded positively to the idea of an audio outcome from my interaction with the scientists and the glacier.

Will continue reading around this for now.
very interested in

Crit: 18 Feb 2011 + Supervision meeting: 23 Feb 2011

Object for crit: 1905 franked postcard of the Franz Josef Glacier.

Cold Reading:
  • souvenir
  • remote glacier
  • poetic message
  • mystery
  • quality of print
  • redundancy of form of communication
  • object of rich history
  • sentimental
  • scale in the landscape
  • old images/static images blocking perception of climate change
  • glaciers melting around the world
  •  strange notion of buying someone else's history
  • multi layering
  • aspects of science
  • discovering scientific information in an art forum
  • relation to older image 
  • contrasting with ideal pictures
  • living/talking glaciers
  • sound outcome
  • environmental shock
  • social studies aspects
  • evidence 
  • intriguing mystery
  • is seeing believing?
  • constructed viewpoints
  • what is the thesis of the work?
  • constructed evidence
  • natural identity is complacent hindering our change to actually 'being green' 
  • artists potentially more free to respond/create as they wish
  • people don't want to know
  • mediated perceptions keep us in a state of unconsciousness
  • would consciousness create panic? vitalise action?
  • constructing the truth
  • tied back to capitalism
  • systems of value
  • Eco-friendly tourism ventures on climate affected landscapes ironic
  • notion of time as leisure 
  • sublime - needing to be overwhelmed by landscape
  • working on a memory differently
Look up:

Supervision meeting:

  • Collaboration needs written permission, incl. conditions of exhibition/terms of use etc.
  • Paul Winstanley - tourist landscape
  • Wolfgang Staehle
  • Fiona Clark - Taranaki vista
  • Andrea Polli
  • Live data - what is the value?
  • What is the purpose of layers of conversion of data?
  • What is the main thing that you hope to achieve?
  • Check new media discourse - sci/art discourse
  • trans media
  • AV festival
  • electronic arts
  • Why do it?
  • Who else is doing it?
  • Cost webcam hosting etc - potentially do a basic version for MFA and approach CNZ post MFA
  • Strategic functions
  • what kind of representations will result
  • investigate potential final material frameworks
  • investigate implications/issues around imaging and data conversion in projects.
  • potential losses: formal reduction - pure aesthetic - loss of communication/or ambiguity vs straight communication - very political, telling people how to think... 
  • Stella Brennan (fake sonar)
Deciding what interests you in:
Art, photography, grand narratives, particular geographies, climate change etc. Narrow down what you want to focus on and have a clear aim before returning to glacier.

Look up Lawrence Aberhart and Mark Adam (Written on by Nicholas Butler). Francis Pound as well re: NZ pristine.

Hans Haake - River cleaning work

Narrowing potential - edit academic area of concern

A science discourse or a broader, popularised discourse?

Talk to Joyce Campbell

Think about potentially relating this project to other geographies. It could result in an output of only a few components.

Postcards at: Venice Biennale: Arsenale – Aleksandra Mir


Have decided to revamp this journal as a response to texts page in order to analyse my my thinking/order my research. Expect updates.