a (very) brief history of aotearoa
molly morpeth art award
is a public sculpture situated in New Plymouth, New Zealand and was installed November 2015. The sculptural work is a customary Maori tiki that has been pixilated. There is an intentional ambiguity to the work - the tiki is not easily recognizable to some, which in turn leaves the work open for interpretation. Thus the intent of my work in general attempts to connect to people on different levels in differing ways - through either conceptual or visual means.
Some may see the visual connection to the traditional tiki. In a traditional cultural context the tiki is a symbol of fertility and makes reference to Tiki – considered by some to be either the first man or the creator of the first man. Thus, the tiki provides notions of genealogy – past, present and future generations. It implies the notion of ‘continuance’.
However in a contemporary Maori context, the tiki seems to have become a symbol of Maori cultural identity itself - indeed the tiki has also become one of a few symbols of our Nation’s identity as a whole.
Through an artistic eye some may only see the material and the process in which it is made. The bronze casting process is around 40 thousand years old - the basic principles of which are still followed today. Thus through material and process the work makes reference to one of the oldest artistic technologies employed by sculptors. It is a process that is long, hard and grueling, entailing lots of sub materials and processes within the whole to create the final outcome.
Some may look past this old technology and see the pixilation of the tiki. They may consider the pixel and it’s relationship to current technologies and the way in which we currently live our lives. The majority of us see the world through our computers, TVs and our smart devices. We see the world through 2-Dimensional screens of various sizes depending on whether we’re working, communicating, having fun or relaxing (a far cry from the hard, grueling, physically labour intensive lives lived by those from the past). Indeed the technology today suggests that this will only become more prevalent and immersive - one only has to think about Augmented Reality and it’s application to Google Glass and other Smart Devices such as smart phones and tablets.
People of my generation may further make visual links to ‘old school’ games such as Tetris - many an hour was spent twisting and turning shapes within a game that was created by a Russian. And yet a younger generation of today may make links to popular games with pixilated styles such as Mine Craft - a game that boasts 19,157,513 purchases at the time of writing, of which was created in Stockholm. From this context others may make links to the current ‘colonization’ of not only Maori, but also all people, from ‘global mainstream cultures’ through the use of these digital technologies.
To me I see all of these differing aspects of the work. To me it’s about the ambiguous nature of the development of culture through technological break through - ambiguous in the sense that we don’t always see or understand what we are doing as our cultures are continuously evolving... it is in a constant state of ‘pixilation’.
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