Mana Moana Digital Ocean brings together more than 20 leading Māori and Pacifica artists from across Aotearoa for an online collection of multimedia and video art – all housed over an immersive waterscape rendered in 3D. Art and technology weave together in eight new collaborative works ranging from video art, to VR /360 film and 3D digital sculpture. The result is an innovative exhibition speaking to our relationships with water and the need for collective action to ensure its survival. The project takes off where Mana Moana 2019 left off, however, with Covid-19 restrictions the project needed to pivot into the digital realm.
These digital art works offer a compelling narrative about manaakitanga (hospitality) and whanaungatanga (relationships) to inspire positive change for people and the planet alike. In doing so, themes of well-being, balance and healing are forefronted in a number of the works. Curators reached out to multimedia creatives to produce works that pushed the boundaries of the medium while also staying true to the kaupapa of the project.
In the shift to the online format the curators and producers conceived an inky digital 3D ocean environment populated by the new art projects, the web platform itself becoming an artwork in which the viewer is invited to voyage. The curators grouped artists from different disciplines together to collaborate with the technology, resulting in dynamic new creative works. The platform uses the latest browser-based technology, giving audiences an immersive and interactive viewing experience.
The new collaborative works were released around Matariki – traditionally a time of reflection and renewal – and presented on a new and unique immersive digital art platform. Designers wanted to create a space which felt ‘other’ and that could be accessed through travelling through the initial waharoa (portal), and listening to the opening karakia. In this way the design also adhered to tikanga Māori which, like the project itself, had been adapted to a new digital realm.
Staying true to its digital roots – the project was launched over video conference with a karakia from creatives at the moana in Wellington. It also featured a webinar led by Wellington City Councillor Tamatha Paul, who delved deep into the inspiration behind each of the artists’ works as well as the curator’s vision.