New Zealand values its rich Maori cultural heritage. As part of its ongoing commitment, artist Te Rongo Kirkwood was commissioned by Creative NZ to create a new body of work, representing the Kahu or Maori Cloak, in contemporary form. Ka Awatea: The story of Life through Light, is the resulting work.

Te Rongo commissioned Traditional Weavers, to weave the woven elements, binding the Glass to the form. There has never been anything like these cloaks before, which maybe why Darcy Nicholas (Senior Artist and Head of Pataka Museum) calls Te Rongo ‘a Pathway Artist, one who crates the way for others to follow’. The Kahu or cloaks each represent a stage of life from a spiritual perspective. The Cloaks are mounted on a core centre structure that is 2.4m wide by 2.4m high and is circular. A soundcape recorded and produced by Markus Couldrey and Matt Smith subtly adds mood within the exhibition room. Ambient speakers at the top of the structure play 2 channels of ‘Audio Bed’, whilst each cloak has a speaker hidden behind it, so that each emanates its own sounds, adding to the whole. 6 channels of Audio are thus used. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th cloak, each has a projector, projecting out from the centre structure onto the opposing wall, with words and Phrases in Te Reo Maori and English. Words Chosen by the Artist to resonate with each individual cloak. Each cloak is lit from within and without, with the lighting following a slow DMX chase sequence, so that the viewer can see the Kahu forms in different states. The combination of the works, Audio, Video and lighting, creates an incredibly powerful experience.

Technical Challenge: As TeRongo’s vision for the exhibition became clearer, so did the technical difficulties to realise the desired effect, in a way that could be easily set up, and be run by the Museum Staff. Thankfully the solution was way simpler than expected thanks to one very brilliant Software package. Wallflower digital signage software! By using Wallflower loaded onto a standard PC, a Matrox Video Card, and M Audio 8 Channel Delta Audio Card, The Video to each of the 3 Mitsubishi Projectors, 6 channels of Audio and scheduled on/off via RS232, was incredibly easy to set up, and now runs itself completely based on the schedule agreed with the Museum. The Museum staff have to do nothing except enjoy the exhibition! Traditionally, in this environment, museums have had to rely on multiple DVD machines, and synchronised multiple Audio Devices, then each day a member of the Exhibition team would need to boot it all into life. With Wallflower, its all taken care of with one very simple software package. Wallflower even accepts external event triggers via I/O. Tis could be Movement sensors, Pressure pads or button presses. Wallflower can integrate touch panels and run up to dozens of different Screens with separate material from 1 PC (with Matrox Cards). Turn Devices on/off via Network or RS232 protocols, and even integrate with 3rd party lighting systems via RS232 to DMX. In short Wallflower is the perfect solution for Museum AV and lighting based exhibitions. As a user ‘it just works’ said Matt Smith, AV Designer on Ka Awatea, ‘ the great thing was that the system is so easy and intuitive to use, and there’s great support from the company, if you have any queries ‘From the time we turned it on, till now, Wallflower has run the system flawlessly without one single glitch!’ Visit http://www.pataka.org.nz/image/tid/69 for details of the exhibition and Te Rongo Kirkwood


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