Updated: Feb 8, 2022
Land Radius|2 presents a collaborative audio/visual exchange on rising oceans. A trail camera was placed, as a proxy human sentinel, amongst the mangrove trees that sit at the edge of the shore on Aotearoa New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, aka Tikapa Moana (the Mournful Sea). The imagery captures the unceasing tide, natural phenomena (moonlight, gravitational forces, atmospheric conditions, sunlight) and some of the creatures who dwell there. A blue plastic tube shaped into a circle interrupts the ebb and flow and draws our attention to the multiple and often clashing claims made upon this environment. In ‘making’ the video, the artist can only set up the camera and point it in the desired direction; the subsequent gathering of footage relies on a combination of favourable atmospheric conditions (wind causing movement and a change in temperature) to activate the motion sensor that triggers the trail camera to begin recording. The video is accompanied by a sound work of testimonies about irreversible sea-level rise. An array of human actors presents an unfolding assemblage of perspectives, amplifying their knowledge, observations, practices, concerns, doubts, fears, and frustrations in relation to established scientific and colonial perspectives. This includes teachings from the tüpuna (ancestors) voiced through two Māori attestants.
As an ecological artist, I wish to advance collective ecological responsibility by documenting societal and ecological exchange as evidence of connection between humans and nonhumans. By calling on others to contribute their knowledge, I will find out what there is ‘to know’, ‘be said’, or ‘shown’ beyond my own perspective. This approach aims to expose what sits in-between established positions and increase multivocality and fosters pluralism through an ongoing ‘listening-observing-not-knowing’ process. The resultant audio/visual language evolves in the spaces of conversation, mutual connection, and elemental freedom to reveal a complex picture of what extraction practices, biodiversity loss, and sea-level rise pose for human society in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The voices that you will hear in the video were recorded via telephone or Zoom calls during the busy working days of each contributor -- the only means of connecting in a period of region-wide lockdown following a Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland (Aug-Nov 2021). These testimonies were initiated through a broad ‘call for contributions’ on the subject of sea-level rise awareness. Open conversations across different epistemic positions produced a contributor-led approach to defining areas of local concern, ensuring that this collaborative audio/visual exchange was not directed but gathered. Each contributor drew from personal experience, presenting important perspectives on issues affecting their environments and communities. As each contributor evidenced their knowledge, new layers of connection and agency were exposed helping to create a new network of exchange as conveyed by this audio/visual work.
The artist sincerely thanks these contributors and all the other voices who connected along the way, as well as Screen Auckland and Wenderholm Regional Park for their support in the making of the work.
The speakers you hear are as follows:
01 Craig Turvey is a sea swimmer, project developer and cultural worker. He describes his experiences of swimming amongst the mangrove forests of the Hauraki Gulf’s shoreline.
02 Alex Rogers is the Executive Officer of the Hauraki Gulf Forum. He shares his knowledge around the politics of protecting and restoring the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.
03 Stephen Perry is a fine art photographer based in Devonport, Auckland who has a passion for documenting coastal concrete structures along his local beach.
04 Dr Michael Allis is a coastal engineer with NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmosphere) who discusses adaptation responses in communication with communities affected by sea-level rise.
05 Sharley Haddon (Ngāti Wai) is a horse woman and Pakiri Beach resident who attests to the impact of sand extraction on the biodiversity of her local beach.
06 Dr Paula Blackett is an environmental social scientist with NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmosphere) who talks about decision-making on sea-level rise using Serious Games to activate timely adaptation measures with communities.
07 Bianca Ranson (Ngāti Kahu ki Whaingaroa, Ngāpuhi) grew up on Waiheke Island on the Hauraki Gulf. She is founder and director of Potiki Adventures which offers tours and outdoor adventures from a Māori perspective within the natural environment. She is also a founding member of Mauri o te Moana, an organisation established as a collective Māori voice calling for urgent action for the protection of the moana (ocean). She presents a comprehensive Māori overview of the challenges faced by many communities affected by sea-level rise along the Pacific rim.