Emo­tional art


In­no­va­tive col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween art and sci­ence go on dis­play at Te Manawa Mu­seum this week­end.

S+ART, or the Sci­ence Tech­nol­ogy and Arts Trust is hold­ing its third an­nual S+ART Some­thing Fes­ti­val fea­tur­ing two unique, in­ter­ac­tive sci­ence-art works.

One of the two com­mis­sioned pieces is by 12-year-old Sean Macdon­ald-Hill from Ross In­ter­me­di­ate.

A pupil of Keith But­ler’s ‘gifted and tal­ented’ class, Sean’s ‘Emo­tion-Im­mer­sion’ dis­play was cre­ated us­ing an SCR (skin con­duc­tance re­sponse) sen­sor to de­tect and record peo­ple’s re­ac­tions, pos­i­tive, neu­tral and neg­a­tive, to pic­tures he took of lo­cal wa­ter­ways.

Us­ing a com­puter, Sean then con­verted these emo­tional re­sponses into au­dio-vis­ual art.

Sean was 11 when But­ler prompted his class about ap­ply­ing for the S+ART un­der-18 grant last year.

‘‘I said I wanted to be in­cluded, put in my pro­posal, and here we are.’’

The grant was worth $5000, and Sean was right on trend, with is­sues sur­round­ing water and wa­ter­ways be­com­ing top­i­cal.

‘‘At the start we talked to Dr Mike Joy about wa­ter­ways in the re­gion to pho­to­graph,’’ Sean said.

From there, he and his ‘lab as­sis­tant’, dad Stephen, com­piled scenes at the Tu­ritea Stream, Horse­shoe Bend, Toko­maru River, a drain near Shan­non, the Manawatu Gorge and the Man­gaone Stream.

They then hooked up vol­un­teer sub­jects to the sen­sor for their re­ac­tions to the 20 slides.

‘‘There was quite a range of 12 peo­ple from 8 years to their 70s.’’

The next step in­volved de­vel­op­ing im­ages and mu­sic to re­flect their re­sponses.

‘‘I wrote 18 pieces of orig­i­nal mu­sic on [Ap­ple mu­sic pro­gram] Garage­Band and put the mu­sic with a vi­su­aliser.

His re­sults will be shown on a big screen dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

Sean’s ‘Emo­tion-Im­mer­sion’ will be ac­com­pa­nied by ‘Be­com­ing Sky’, part of an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary in­stal­la­tion ‘The Exquisite Wound’ by Auck­land vis­ual artist Re­becca Swan in a col­lab­o­ra­tion that in­volved Palmer­ston North sci­en­tist David Shilling­ton. The piece de­buted at the Auck­land Arts Fes­ti­val in March.

Open­ing at 8.30am on Fri­day at Te Manawa, and run­ning un­til Sun­day, en­try to S+ART is free.


Sean Mac­don­aldHill demon­strates the tech be­hind his au­dio-vis­ual dis­play.

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