Im­ages, and a lit­tle cham­ber mu­sic, salute fire in city’s belly

Weekend Herald - - News - Alice Pea­cock

An ex­hi­bi­tion and con­cert tak­ing place in Auck­land’s Silo Park are bring­ing life — and a sound­track — to hid­den lava caves ly­ing un­der Auck­land’s cen­tral sub­urbs.

For those who know about them, the caves can be found be­low streets, be­neath front yards and un­der rows of shops. They’ve been formed over the past 150,000 years by var­i­ous erup­tions of the city’s vol­ca­noes.

When the erup­tion stops and the stream of lava be­gins to cool, the lava pours out the end of a lava tube, hol­low­ing out a cave un­der the ground.

Chi­rag Jin­dal, dig­i­tal artist and ar­chi­tec­ture and plan­ning grad­u­ate, worked with spele­ol­o­gist Peter Cross­ley to cap­ture the net­work of caves in a se­ries of 3D scans, cre­ated us­ing sur­vey­ing equip­ment.

In Jin­dal’s words, the im­ages are formed by “mil­lions and mil­lions of lit­tle points”, gath­ered through a high-tech Li­DAR scan­ner.

“The Li­DAR scan­ner works by laser — it’s ba­si­cally a 3D scan­ning de­vice. It cap­tures the world around it and makes a dig­i­tal replica us­ing laser,” he said.

“In the im­ages you see th­ese lit­tle bright clus­ters. That’s where the scan­ner was placed, so we went to the other side of the cave and es­sen­tially moved it through the cave on the sur­face, let­ting it con­nect the scans to­gether.”

The im­ages were cur­rently on dis­play at Wyn­yard Quar­ter’s Silo 6 for the Fes­ti­val of Ar­chi­tec­ture.

Tonight, mu­si­cian and award­win­ning com­poser Peter Hobbs will play live at the ex­hi­bi­tion — a per­for­mance he was hop­ing would “cap­ture the essence” of the en­vi­ron­ment in­side the caves.

Hobbs, a multi-in­stru­men­tal im­pro­viser, would be joined by Charmian Keay on vi­o­lin, cel­list Max­ine Cun­liffe and pi­anist Bren­don Mor­row for the per­for­mance.

The mu­si­cal quad had al­ready per­formed the mu­si­cal score in­side one of the caves.

While Hobbs said it was an ex­pe­ri­ence, he also said he hadn’t fore­seen how much of a “night­mare” it would be to lug their mu­si­cal in­stru­ments to the spot.

The mu­si­cians had to carry their gear over rocky ter­rain into the cave to set up shop while con­cert-go­ers scram­bled over boul­ders to get there — a far cry from the steps of the Town Hall.

Based on Crow­ley’s re­search, there were at least 50 caves with about 250 en­trances.

Jin­dal pointed out hun­dreds more could ex­ist in the Auck­land re­gion, but no one would ever know un­til they started dig­ging.

Pri­vate devel­op­ers of­ten wouldn’t re­port caves if they found them, he said, as pub­lic knowl­edge of the nat­u­ral fea­ture could un­der­mine their plans for the land.

“They’re com­pletely dis­re­garded for what they are,” he said. “It’s re­mark­able how they’ve ended up in a re­la­tion­ship with the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.”

The usual re­ac­tion of res­i­dents when dis­cov­er­ing a cave sat un­der­neath their home, was “holy sh**”, Jin­dal said, fol­lowed by some de­gree of awe. “At the end of this there’s some level of stew­ard­ship, of recog­ni­tion that th­ese caves are part of our his­tory.”

Hobbs ap­proached Jin­dal sev­eral days be­fore he opened a sim­i­lar ex­hi­bi­tion in De­cem­ber last year, and wound up per­form­ing an im­pro­vi­sa­tion on the night.

This year, lead­ing up to the sec­ond ex­hi­bi­tion, Jin­dal said they wanted to turn the mu­si­cal el­e­ment of the ex­hi­bi­tion up a notch.

“We wanted to cap­ture the essence of the sites, by per­form­ing the mu­sic in­side the caves.”

So last month Hobbs and his small crew of mu­si­cians held a record­ing ses­sion in a cave deep be­low the dor­mant vol­cano Te Tatua-a-Riuk­i­uta, in Three Kings, and in­vited peo­ple to come along.

The group ap­proached lo­cal iwi for per­mis­sion to per­form in­side the caves — as sev­eral had been used as burial caves. The record­ing was play­ing in Silo 6 over the course of the ex­hi­bi­tion, bar tonight, when the live con­cert was tak­ing place.

Top: An im­age of lava tubes and caves un­der an Auck­land sub­urb. Artist Chi­rag Jin­dal’s ex­hi­bi­tion is ti­tled Into the Un­der­world and mu­si­cian Peter Hobbs (far right) will play live at the ex­hi­bi­tion at Silo Park tonight.

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