AwhiWorld – Dr Maggie Buxton and Kim Newall, in collaboration with ThoTho – Alan Thomas and Vivian Thonger
27 May – 18 June, 2023
BIOS is a creative innovation lab set up to foster exploration and research at the intersection of art and technology and comprises various learning and experimentation zones, including areas dedicated to bio-matter experiments, mini-installations utilising 3D projection, and displays showcasing future fibre experiments.
The name BIOS is derived from the Greek word for life and also references the primary system used to operate a computer. The lab aims to create a space where biology and technology interact, offering a portal to an imaginative world. AwhiWorld’s core interests, which include portals, parallel realities, process-oriented approaches, and a strong connection to the environment, shape the lab’s practice. They have a commitment, with ThoTho, to cross-disciplinary research and to collaborative learning and practice. Situated within a gallery context, the lab demonstrates a commitment to community engagement, grassroots capacity building, and the activation of the site and land.
BIOS is part of a larger year-long capacity building project for digital arts and cross-disciplinary practices in Northland. Supported by Manatū Taonga, the Awhi Incubator brings together creatives to foster collective learning and enhance resilience in their artistic endeavours. During BIOS, artists, cross-disciplinary practitioners, and creative technologists will engage in workshops, create prototypes, and test ideas. A larger community of creatives can also participate through a series of public workshops and events.
Even when AwhiWorld and ThoTho are not physically present on site, the installation remains dynamic, with different zones showcasing work in progress, experiments, and documentation of the artistic process. Dr. Buxton highlights the lab’s aim to provide insight into the creative process, making the technology behind the works transparent rather than hidden away. This approach involves displaying cables, cameras, and the inner workings of the pieces, rather than concealing them.
Community collaboration is a key focus within BIOS. The Future Fibre zone, for example, showcases experimental works created by community partners who attended a workshop prior to the lab. Examples include Ki te whaiao, Ki te ao mārama by Kara Dodson and Reva Mendes from Ako Hokianga, as well as Tipu Ake by Lorraine King and Mauororangi by Te Hemo Ata Henare from Maunga Kura Toi. Lorraine King, the Pathway Manager – Creative at Maunga Kura Toi, expresses enthusiasm about the opportunity to explore the possibilities offered by these exciting new technologies and integrate them into their existing practices.
BIOS also features an international partnership with SEADS, involving the simultaneous exchange of signals between installations in Aberdeen, Brazil, and two virtual reality (VR) spaces.