Visualizing New Zealand: A Web of Sites

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Technologies of Place 2

Presentation Title:

  • Visualizing New Zealand: A Web of Sites

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Abstract:

  • A recent Air New Zealand marketing campaign for television and cinema values the importance of ‘being there’. Produced by the Auckland-based office of ad agency Colenso BBDO, the brand campaign reinforces the emotional connection New Zealanders have with their national airline through a sense of flight, celebration of the landscape and powerful moments of connection. One television commercial depicts a person working in a kitchen in Auckland. He walks outside to a jetty looking doleful. He then jumps into the air and flies the length of New Zealand (with backing soundtrack in te reo Maori) to land outside a landmark building in Dunedin, some 2 hours away by plane, to kiss his girlfriend.

    Along with a close metaphoric association with New Zealand’s landscape however, these television commercials draw more upon our familiarity with flying over landscapes in Second Life than they associate with cramped airplanes. These commercials use the themes of displacement and re-connection made possible by travel technology. However the visualization of these themes do not refer to airplanes at all, but the sense of disembodied flight made familiar by new media technologies, and popularized by online worlds and digital game play.

    Through examples of work made by New Zealand new media artists and television advertising designers, this paper examines the role of new media in visualizing contemporary models of place. This is experienced both as a colonial construct and a shaping of settler identity, as well as a framework for positioning (indigenous) Maori cultural beliefs in a contemporary New Zealand mediascape. Theoretically the paper will draw upon ideas of Marxist geographer Henri Lefebvre, arguing that space (and this is extended to ‘location’) is not a fixed geographic set of data but rather is actively and socially produced: creative, organic, fluid and alive. The examples demonstrate a simultaneous flow of different types of spaces in time to produce a notion of ‘New Zealand’. Discussion will draw upon the specific and particular stories communicated between these works of art and design and their viewers.

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