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Environmentally focussed artist turns to NZ’s Kauri trees

Thursday 2 May 2019

Renowned artist, Joseph Michael, is AUT’s Artist in Residence for 2019.

Hosted by Colab, Joseph will create a body of work during his time at the University. In a first for New Zealand, the artist will create a life-size digital reconstruction of New Zealand's largest known living kauri tree, Tāne Mahuta, located in the Waipoua Forest in the Northland region.

Mapping and recreating Tāne Mahuta and other significant Kauri trees of the Waipoua forest as a life-size virtual image, Joseph is working in conjunction with AUT’s Associate Professor Barbara Bollard, School of Applied Science and her team, who will be studying the trees from a scientific perspective at the same time. Joseph is also collaborating with Te Roroa iwi and the Department of Conservation and is supported by Radio NZ and Creative New Zealand.

Joseph will be exhibiting a work relating to his Kauri tree research at Bright Nights, the immersive lighting experience at Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour from 8-12 May. The large Kauri tree interactive light sculpture will return to AUT after the show where he will further explore and experiment with it.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to expand our knowledge of one of NZ’s most treasured species, we need to think deeper and understand the consequences of our actions toward the natural environment,” says Joseph.

“The opportunity to work across disciplines at AUT is fantastic, I’m working directly with scientists in the creation of this work and aiming to produce a visual meeting point betweenMātauranga Māori and western science.” Joseph adds.

During his time at AUT, Joseph will be teaching across the Bachelor of Creative Technologies programme. This semester Joseph is co-delivering a paper teaching transmedia narratives, where students have the opportunity to explore concepts related to storytelling or experiences conveyed across multiple platforms and formats using contemporary and emerging digital technologies.

Dr Yvonne Chan, Director of Colab says, “We are delighted to host Joseph at Colab to support his collaboration with the community and AUT researchers. Our students from the Creative Technologies programme also gain value from Joseph’s natural ability to transfer technologies to create visual interactive experiences.”

“Joseph is one of New Zealand’s most exciting artists, and his work, which is moving ever closer to bring art and science together, is something that is a natural fit for a University of Technology. AUT is very privileged to host Joseph and the opportunities that will stem from this for our students, staff and the community at large to experience his work,” Yvonne adds.

About Joseph Michael

The artist is renowned for his installation depicting Antarctica which was projected onto the Auckland War Memorial Museum for three nights in March 2017. Described as ‘a cinematic collision of nature and architecture’ ANTARCTICA - while you were sleeping was a full-scale 360-degree projection of a life size majestic iceberg, showcasing the untouched beauty of Antarctica.

The installation was the largest project of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the technology used was also a New Zealand first, with the projection mapped to fit the Museum and bring it to life. Coupled with a soundscape from several vocal icebergs, visitors bore witness to the groans, pops and thunderous claps of collapsing ice walls in this stunning shapeshifting art-work.

Joseph’s work has been featured on 60 Minutes and National Geographic and his luminosity series has been shared by hundreds of thousands of people and issued as a limited edition stamp series by New Zealand post.


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