Distraction and Feedback

Su Ballard. “Distraction and Feedback: Sound, Noise and Movement in Aotearoa New Zealand.” Mesh vol. 19 (online) http://www.experimenta.org/mesh/mesh19/ballard.html ed. Maria Rizzo, Experimenta: Melbourne, September 2006.

If sound is a material and digital media have lead images toward a realm where they engage materiality at a deeply coded level, then it is only logical that at some point sound and image will meet on similar ground. In Aotearoa New Zealand artists playing with and shifting the distinct materialities of sound and image enabled by, and in response to, digital technologies have generated significant bodies of work. Much of this work does not only cross the boundaries of sound and image but blurs their material distinctions. This short essay focuses on some recent installations by artists Nathan Thompson, Adam Willetts, and Aaron and Hannah Beehre. In examining a pair of works by each artist I map a trend away from a flat digital screen that was dominant throughout the 90s in New Zealand new media practice, towards the spaces and sounds of installation. In particular the works discussed examine the role of sonics (sound) in new media. In this way the works reflect the significant role that artists working across the platforms of sound and image have had in New Zealand.