I can't help being fascinated by the kind of work being done where art and tech collide - perhaps due to a long association with arty types and particularly, lately, with the Mac-heavy culture of the denizens of the Creative Technologies' Department at AUT.

Raewyn Turner got a degree in fine arts a couple of decades ago, then went on to do the lighting for Split Enz in their first few years.

Now, with a Masters of Fine Arts, Raewyn is an interdisciplinary artist investigating cross-sensory perception and the uncharted territories of the senses. She explores the immediate offerings of the senses and technologies that are shaping extrasensory perceptions of the world. Her works include video, colour and smell for screen, installation, artefacts and live performance.

These have been shown in national and international exhibitions including the NZ Film Festival, Te Papa, Los Angeles MOCA, in Canada, Germany, Argentina, Italy and in Australia - and currently she has a collaborative show at the Moving Image Centre in Karangahape Rd, Auckland.

Her collaborator in this show is Canadian Diana Burgoyne, who was awarded the Fleck Fellowship from Canada's Banff New Media in 2009. Diana appeared at the BNMI that February to work with technical staff on the collaborative project Fragrance, with Raewyn Turner, thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts Media Section, and Creative New Zealand.

Basically, these two Mac-toting artists have been communicating on Skype across the continents to create sensory audio-visual and smell-involving works of art.

Pictures, videos and more information appear here and here, but I recommend going along to the MIC Toi Rerehiko (321 Karangahape Rd; go through the door and head straight upstairs) to check it out for yourself.

For what art! In one room, colours shade through different, sampled Canadian greens on one wall and New Zealand greens on another.

The green hues were sampled using a camera, then put into Photoshop, edited into QuickTime movies using Apple's Final Cut Pro. In front of these screens, glasses are poised on stalks. Depending on what shade of green is showing, the glasses shake, causing little scent beads inside to vibrate. All the time, alarming sound gets your hackles up. It's intriguing, exciting, and can add up to sensory overload.

In another room, shelves are laden with wired glass jars containing socks. Luckily, they're sealed ... but lean forward for a closer look, and little electromechanical engines whir and the jars pop open for your delectation. Or not.

There's something late-17th century automaton about it all. The socks are human relics, yet on display in glass - packaged, if you like, but packaged like food.

Another room displays a documentary called Lucky, featuring gamblers talking about the game of chance. This was another job for Final Cut Pro. A glass case opposite has beads of scent Raewyn insists is distilled from the scent of successful gambling.

The case contains Lucky perfume bottles created on a rapid prototype machine. The product containers reference 'fulgurites' formed from cloud-to-ground lightning discharges. "The containers are small enough to fit in the hand and are 30mm in width as a reference to lightning almost always being 30mm wide. Random mutations were applied to the initial fulgurite computer model, which was built by Nelson Rayner in 3D Studio Max."

Raewyn Turner is currently working with Dr Richard Newcomb for Plume, a forthcoming installation that focuses on the "unconscious perception of the human plume" - the scents and particles we all shed and leave behind, like a wake.

Newcombe is a molecular biologist; Raewyn often works across the disciplines of science, technology and creativity.

Raewyn cites research that the plume may include emotional state information. She is fascinated by the artificial state we have created in the name of human existence, and its possible consequences.

The interface with our world is increasingly being mandated and dictated from the human-enforced viewpoint, rather than from the naturally predicated, through to scents impregnated, at the factory, into the clothing we buy.

It's as though the millennia of human evolution has turned us against the planet and its dark forces. Yet Raewyn chooses to express this using technology - that's either very arch or very ap. Actually, it's both. These synthetic flavours and fragrances may also be taken up into the human body and expressed in the human plume.

Well, that's a theory. This new collaboration will form part of the Intercreate show that's taking place in New Plymouth in mid to late January 2011.

- Mark Webster mac-nz.com