Here is a run down of the first day of ADA Mesh Cities in Auckland.

Photo: Maggie Buxton
Photo: Maggie Buxton

Opening the event, organisers Vicki Smith and Trudy Lane provided some context to the symposium. In short, this is the third Mesh Cities events with the first two being in Christchurch and Dunedin. In the introduction Vicki referred to the work of Patrick Geddes as being an influence for much of the thinking surrounding urban environments and sociology.

Donald Ripia then gave the Māori Welcome (Nga Wai O Horotiu Marae ~ Mihi) which was very informative. He talks about the lie of the land in Auckland, explaining that under the city are many underground rivers and streams. We also had the chance to talk a bit to Donald before the event started, having an interesting conversation about how he educates engineering students to be aware of Māori knowledge and the importance of engaging Māori in the process of property development as there could be very expensive consequences if they are not engaged. For example, the knowledge of geography and land could help make sure the development is sound – alerting builders to potential problems with the site – building on flood plains, swamps etc.

We were then welcomed by the Auckland hosts – Colab: Frances Joseph and Harry Silver and they gave an overview to the very interesting work they do, working across a number of schools at AUT.

Roger Dennis the founder of Sensing City gave the keynote presentation which was very interesting and prompted a lot of discussion. He talked about the use of smart phones, big data and sensors being enablers to determine the health and maintenance of the city. For example apps and tools for measuring water quality, air quality and ‘bumps’ in the road are all ways of gathering information to create a picture of the city.

Moss by Raewyn Turner and Brian Harris
Moss by Raewyn Turner and Brian Harris

Artist Raewyn Turner talked about her project Sensory Architecture, which was really interesting as she often works with smell and perfumes. She showed and shared a number of her fragrances, one of which is called Snatch which stinks like dirty peat and oil when you first apply it and after 20 minutes smells like flowers. Raewyn also presented a very interest work that used moss, which generated sound when you touched it.

The first panel focused on Civics and Social and was chaired by Carole Anne Meehan, who is the Public Art Manager, Auckland Council. There were some very interesting projects. I was really interested in following up with Maggie Buxton ~ whose research is simply titled ‘Place’. Over a numb rod years Maggie has worked with communities to develop stories around place using a brad range of technologies in clouding VJ software, which is something I would like to learn more about. Tracey Williams a curator from Auckland Council spoke about some of the community engagement projects which she has worked with which was really interesting. One of these projects will be discussed late. Vanessa Crowe discussed her highly engaging project Mood Bank. In short this project was about setting up a physical ‘bank’ where people could deposit their mood. What I liked was that there was not credit/debit perspective – all moods were of value and all were acknowledged and deposited. Jeanne van Heeswijk an artist and keynote for Engaging publics/Public engagement at Auckland Art Gallery also had a very interesting presentation about the work she has been engaged with in Rotterdam about engaging different communities or publics into art based projects.

Documentation of "Finding the Ghosts of K Road" © Tracey Benson 2014
Documentation of “Finding the Ghosts of K Road” © Tracey Benson 2014

After this panel, we took off to K Road to meet Edward Bennett for my AR walking project Finding the Ghosts of K Road. You can also find some documentation on this post titled Augmented walking in the rain.

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