Saturday, August 26, 2006

Greetings, Kia ora, Hyvää päivää!

welcome to Trip the Light Fantastic - an impossible expedition, a dreamed voyage, a flight of fantasy. A journey through story that unfolded in the period leading up to and during the residency conference Solar Circuit Aotearoa/NZ [scanz].

in the tradition of every good road trip ‘postcard’ images of iconic females were chosen for the banner to reflect the homelands of the members of Avatar Body Collision - from the left we have Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni [and the map of England],
in the middle is the map of Aotearoa/New Zealand, the journeying would end and begin at Taranaki on the west coast of the north island - all ‘kiwis’ are familiar with Pania and the pakeha woman, who is in every government organization as part of the official coat of arms - and on the right above the map of Finland is the painter Helene Schjerfbeck

this blog is the creative ‘road trip’ of Avatar Body Collision sharing with you intimacy and massive space of driving somewhere with
others in the car. the cinematic slow turning landscape, the video windscreen, the crazy stops in out of the way places and the glimpsed intersections into other peoples realities...
you have arrived at the end go to the bottom of this page to set off

Sunday, July 16, 2006


the day of our presentation dawned fine and sunny, and we were honoured with a rare glimpse of taranaki. all seemed good - until we knocked on the door of number 6 and got no reply. it quickly transpired that no-one had seen karla and leena since the exhibition opening at just art the night before ... trying to look on the positive side of things, vicki and i set off for the gallery to finish preparations for our presentation, and sent texts to try to locate our missing collaborators. it was a bit disconcerting that we didn't hear from them during the day, but we were busy with everything else and as they've never let us down before, we were confident that they would show up in time.

once things were set up at the gallery, we managed to squeeze in a spot of op-shopping and vicki scored a stunning copper-coloured frock, the perfect compliment for my own velvet number. then we dashed back to WITT to assist becca wood with her presentation - a choreography performed by herself and a dancer in auckland, using iVisit and playing with the space between the windows. it was really interesting to see a dance-oriented use of iVisit, the way they were playing with the space, and points of commonality with our own work.

but still no word from karla or leena! by 5pm we were getting pretty worried, as we headed back to the gallery laden with everyone's computers for the final set-up. dan supplied us with liquid comforts while the rumorologists administered rescue remedy to vicki - hard to know whether it was the pressure of the tight frock sleeves on her toned muscles, or the anxiety over karla and leena's whereabouts, but she was starting to go white and trembly ...

7pm came and we were up. given the evening's tight schedule we had to say "the show must go on!" and bravely took to the floor. i was chatting to the audience while we waited, desperately hoping for a last minute appearance, when my phone started going and the texts came in thick and fast from karla - they were in auckland!!!! unbelievable!!! over several text messages we learned that, after the exhibition opening on friday night they had gone with some locals to brooklands zoo and scaled the walls, so that karla could get to the otters. not surprisingly, they were caught by security and once their alien status was identified, the police were called in and before they knew it they were being whisked off to the detention centre at auckland airport, for immediate deportation!!!

incredibly, leena still had one last bottle of high quality finnish vodka with her. she cleverly used this to bribe the immigration officials into giving them internet access and so they were both able to be online for the rest of the present-tation. we cast our shadows onto the mountain and discoursed about our study of presence and absence during the residency, before the time-keeper intervened and we were forced from the stage, amid rousing cheers and thunderous applause.

later as the audience left the auditorium, they encountered the installation part of our work. this was a test run as we will use it in a slightly different context during intimacy and in-yer-face next week, and it was encouragingly well-received. finally, we retired with the rest of the scanz artists to punkawalla for an indian banquet.

as for karla and leena, they must be in the air now, winging their way back to their homes. i'm not sure what became of the otter(s). it has been an incredible and memorable two weeks, we have all been changed forever by this experience.

our thanks go to ian and trudy for organising scanz and offering us our first group residency, to the govett brewster for their support in set up, to adam for being a total network dude and to the rest of the scanz artists for the wonderful group collaboration that you all entered into with so much enthusiasm and generosity.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

too brief a connection

the end of SCANZ is fast approaching and now the ADA [Aotearoa Digital Artists] crew are here to join us for the last couple of days of Presentations and discussions. we have been lucky to be party to the work and thoughts of all the artists here and although we arrived with a plan in mind this two weeks has seen our work evolve and expand and gain in layers and richness

after working hard all day to get the set-up happening in the gallery we were looking forward a relaxing evening. starting with the Opening of the latest exhibition at jUStart [the exhibition space run by Justin ]– Justin and Kim are students at WITT, documenters of the SCANZ residency and willing if sometimes unwitting accomplices in the nefarious deeds of the SCANZ participants..

It was a great way to start to wind down [although it seems this is always the time that Karla and Leena are winding up because while Helen and i went back to the Gallery, it seems that after the opening the others hit town [in fact they were not in room 6 at all last night!] – our only concern now is that they make it to the gallery in time for the evenings events...

Friday, July 14, 2006


On arrival at the Govett Brewster today the verdigris on the door reminded me that i have some more green images to contribute to Raewyn Turner’s project – in exploring and photographing the environment i have in mind the work that others are doing to respond to the strands at SCANZ [environmental response and for us to explore the notion of dis/connection] really on reflection the connections happening through this residency are really quite phenomenal

to illustrate - even today, as we were working in the auditorium the Govett Brewster education programme was about making shadow puppets – for the ability to re-create dancing with the stars [we too are exploring shadows, for the notion of presence the ability to cast a shadow confers]

one of the fabulous tech people who helped us with the set up today was Leonie Smith who has just had a show at the Govett was discussing the work she is doing on flux
or ‘satellite gaps’ as she called them which is the very area Becca Wood [who we are sharing a space with] is exploring - and which is of course what any work that happens live over the internet is permeated with

and then there is the fact that Stella has a beer named after her… and so does Karla! which is really what we needed after scaling Paritutu today…

Thursday, July 13, 2006

real and virtual vertigo

as the residency draws to a close it feels like we're emerging from the shadows into a sunny clearing, ready for work. this morning at the govett brewster the internet functioned perfectly, and the four of us established a local-but-remote working methodology that seems promising for our creative processes. things clicked into place as we stepped back from the proximal precipice ...

to celebrate our morning's achievement, we opted for another kind of vertigo, and scaled paritutu rock; it was a bit of a scramble but i managed it - in a skirt, bionic hip and all! the views from the top were amazing - although taranaki remained hidden behind his shroud of cloud.

the vertigo of proximity

now that we are finally all together, the work is intense and unexpectedly hard. some things are much easier to communicate over email and chat. moving alongside karla's petite and agile body, i am suddenly overtly conscious of my own lack of grace and co-ordination; my new-zilind twang jars against leena's sexy accent; and i am a complete sloth compared with vicki's ability to function on minimal sleep and go for long walks. the vertigo of proximity throws these physicalities into high relief, and i find myself secretly yearning for the intimacy of distance ...


it is interesting how many of the themes and ideas from the range of projects are appearing in other projects, these recurrences are forming patterns that are beginning to reflect the response to the environment that we are all attempting to make [and in some cases the Location – Dis-location we are feeling] some of the patterns to _our_ work seem to be recurring – the struggle with the internet and life [work, health, family] influencing the progress made

an environmental response i enjoyed is under one of the bridges on the hike down to the beach. The grafitti I had photographed and appreciated [thanks to New Plymouth Kids] was rollered over in buff on today’s jaunt – so fresh that we covered our fingers in paint checking. but by the return journey the silver scriber had already started afresh and left a comment for the perpetrators of bland

and talking of fabulous patterns I found this woman in downtown New Plymouth yesterday who makes great slippers [am happily wriggling my toes in the faux leopard skin interior of the ones i bought yesterday]

AND finally, we found some enthusiasts willing to climb taranaki with the C5 guys - will their quest finally meet with success?!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


this morning the four of us went to the govett brewster to test the internet connection ... which didn't work at all. not to be deterred by a mere technical hitch, we spent some time playing with the data projector, then went to lunch and had a good session on our work-in-progress for intimacy and in-yer-face then did a spot of shopping.

in the afternoon we met up with dale copeland who took us to real tart; she hit it off really well with karla and has taken her out to her home and studio at puniho for the night. i'm not sure whether leena has gone with them, or with other scanz artists to the new plymouth observatory. unfortunately it's cloudy tonight - obscuring the full moon ... but was enough of a breeze for ken to test-fly his night kite:

tonight we had new zealand's first ever faces meeting, involving much laughter and wine. nina has promised a full report ... and now it's storming, winding, lightning ...


Finally were are all here and working together as a group. We are hugging a lot to make up all those years when couldn't but virtually ")kiss" & ")pop".

The working issues are usual regradless of the physical or virtual presence: internet was down at the gallery. Well, ok, it is easier now because it is easier to be present when you have a body, not just an avatar that doesn't get access.

But we have been playing with the projectors and developing an idea but that is still a secret...

kicking up your heels

today we heard from Lynne and Grant, they were up at Turoa skifield [Lynne reports that it was fun looking after Karla and that they are looking forward to seeing K, Dan and the girls in London] - on Mt Ruapehu looking west they tried to cast their shadows on Taranaki for us.
i think we missed them because it was about that time we were doing Adam’s FLOSS 101 workshop

Caro and i went for a walk in the early evening and were blessed with sighting two Ruru [Morepork] on silent wings, the moon came out and lit sparkles all along the black sand beach, turned the ponga ferns to silhouette and the edge of clouds to paua

later at Matinee we were treated to a sonic event that at first seemed to be messing with internal organs – a noise creating vibrations that distorted bar-room conversation in an interesting way – next came a driftwood symphony, repeated clicks and tocks prompting one punter to comment “it needs a baseline”…

me i watched the reflection of the mirror ball and imagined it was winking back last night’s party – as Caro Bossy in Second Life says “when in doubt just dance”