An innovative, collaborative art gallery in Whangārei will have contributors from around the world, with the activities also going out online into a virtual reality gallery.
Biology and technology will merge in unexpected ways when Northland creative studio AwhiWorld transforms a gallery at Whangārei Art Museum into a creative innovation lab from Saturday.
The large-scale experience is named BIOS, and will run from May 27 to June 18. It consists of multiple zones combining art and technology, including areas dedicated to experiments with bio-matter; mini installations using 3D projection and interactive sensors, and a “future fibre” area where natural fibres and traditional techniques are interwoven with light or created with materials that change their properties in response to light or other elements.
BIOS is named for the Greek word for life and also the primary system used to run a computer.
“We’re creating a place where biology and technology interact. It’s a portal to another world where we imagine, ‘What will that be like?’,” curator and Whangārei resident Dr Maggie Buxton said.
“This is the largest-scale lab we’ve hosted in Northland, and the range of work and technologies used are much more ambitious. The idea is to support creatives to experiment and research and allow audiences to discover science and technology-based art practices.”
In the interactive test zone, preselected local cross-disciplinary artists can bring their work to test their ideas and learn from others. It’s part of a year-long incubator project AwhiWorld is running for 15 Northland artists. There’ll also be input from artists in Scotland and Brazil.
“BIOS is a learning zone but also open to the public to experience creativity in action. People often come to galleries and just see the result, but here you see the process too, which is more interesting, I think,” Buxton said.
“Exciting things are happening in Northland, and we want the larger Awhi Incubator project to elevate Northland as a place for creative innovation. More artists are embracing technology as they find ways to counter the immense disruption we’ve experienced in the past three years — we want to support that process.”
AwhiWorld has a successful track record of working with creative technologies at a community level. The studio has run multiple pop-up innovation labs and training workshops around Te Tai Tokerau and created many installations in Northland and Auckland — often in collaboration with local community groups. Buxton and her partner Kim Newall are co-producing BIOS with Kerikeri-based creatives ThoTho (Alan Thomas and Vivian Thonger) and local and international partners.
One of these groups, SEADS (Space Ecologies Art and Design), is an international transdisciplinary collective connecting its installations, Biomodd [ABD14] in Aberdeen Scotland, and Bahia, Brazil, to BIOS using signals and virtual reality. It will open a portal between the three locations, connecting Northland to Europe and Latin America.
Angelo Vermeulen, who previously served as crew commander for the Nasa-funded HI-SEAS Mars simulation in Hawaii and co-founded SEADS, says the collective is excited about its collaboration with Tai Tokerau.
“This marks the first instance in which we have established simultaneous connections with various installations worldwide. This achievement presents exciting opportunities for collaborations in the future and serves as an excellent demonstration of cross-cultural creative innovation in action.”