Opunake tree extends reach to US exhibition

18:59, Nov 05 2012
tdn fuzz stand
Witt senior creative technology tutor Ian Clothier

Taranaki artist Ian Clothier's latest exhibition in the United States involved electronically linking an Opunake tree to a Navajo flute.

The artist and senior creative technology tutor at Witt recently returned from New Mexico where he curated an exhibition which explored the relationship between nature and technology.

One of Clothier's pieces was a joint effort with Taranaki engineer Andrew Hornblow which featured in the 516 Arts Gallery in Albuquerque. The project saw an Opunake tree monitored by data sensors send information via the internet to play recordings of indigenous flutes at the exhibition.

"It's the Govett-Brewster of Albuquerque," Clothier said.

"There's huge worldwide interest in electronic art."

The exhibition, Machine Wilderness, was part of the 18th International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) and featured more than 100 artists from 16 countries, including five New Zealanders.


As well as the Opunake tree piece, Clothier took part in a project called Car Garden, which involved filling up a car with plants.

"Initially we wanted to do it in a bus, but in the end we planted a garden in the back of a car. We even filled the cup-holders with plants," he said.

Clothier has had a long involvement with the ISEA, previously being selected for exhibitions in Istanbul, Belfast, San Jose and Tallinn, but he said his most recent trip definitely had a Taranaki feel.

"We worked alongside Maori artist Te Huirangi Waikerepuru. For the opening of the exhibition, we had a joint Maori and Navajo opening ceremony led by Te Huirangi and Medicine Man Johnson Dennison. Albuquerque people are quite similar to New Zealanders, including being laidback," he said.

During his three weeks in Albuquerque, Clothier also attended a conference on the future of electronic art and said he wanted to bring back what he saw to his students at Witt.

"I was keeping an eye out for interesting pieces to share with students," he said. "It was extraordinary. We achieved far more than we set out to do."

Jimmy Hick is a Witt journalism student

Taranaki Daily News