Te Tuhi Contemporary Art Trust, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
Curator: Andrew Kennedy
All plant cells emit electrical impulses. Using ‘biodata sonification’, Miranda Bellamy and Amanda Fauteux’s Speaker Space artwork Emanations records the unique electrical impulses of the plants and trees that flank Te Tuhi’s entrance, amplifying the presence of this plant life.
‘Biodata sonification’ involves the use of a specialised electronic device to read and translate electrical signals, capturing these impulses in the form of MIDI data. While the MIDI data does not sound like anything by itself, Bellamy and Fauteux translate the data by assigning to it synthetic sounds and instruments informed by the characteristics of the plant, the artists’ experience with the plant or the nature of the data itself.
Giving aural form to the plant life that visitors encounter as they enter Te Tuhi, Emanations sonifies the Melia azedarach and pōhutukawa that flank the Speaker Space at Te Tuhi’s entrance. These pōhutukawa hold particular significance for Te Tuhi’s history; Te Tuhi’s name was gifted by local tangata whenua Ngāi Tai in reference to the ancestor Manawatere, a great explorer who signalled his arrival in Aotearoa New Zealand by making his tuhi, or mark, on a pōhutukawa tree using karamea, red ochre. The pōhutukawa standing outside of Te Tuhi were cultivated from the tree on which Manawatere left his tuhi, which still stands at Cockle Bay in Howick to this day.
By centring the living experiences of these plants, and the human histories interwoven through them, Emanations aims to challenge the constructs that separate human beings from other beings, queering our perspective of these specimens to give audibility to the plants in a language that is in part their own.
The artists wish to extend their thanks to Taini Drummond and James Tapsell-Kururangi in support of this project.