SCANZ2013:He Poi, pattern, collaboration and electronic art installation

He Poi, pattern, collaboration and electronic art installation

Author: Deborah Lawler-Dormer


“The melody is very simple (it has only three notes, all of which are within the range of a single tone) so that most of the musical interest is in the rhythm. Each repetition of the melody has two phrases, each with eight quaver beats. Unlike Western music which would organise this in a regular 4 + 4 throughout, ‘Tangi a taku ihu’ often substitutes an additive grouping (usually 3 + 2 + 3) for the 4 + 4. And the rhythm is still further complicated by syncopations between phrases. These syncopations may also be considered to be additive groupings over a period of 16 quaver beats instead of 8. In other words, the rhythm of the words gets out of step with the rhythm of the poi balls and two bars are needed before they coincide again. Thus the song is really an example of cross rhythm.”

Taking the words of Mervyn McLean describing the He Poi chant (1963) as an inspirational starting point, this paper will explore a collaborative research project that explores pattern generation and pattern recognition within the specific framework of the perception and experience of spatiotemporal phenomena within new media installation art. The methodology and practice of collaboration will therefore be at the heart of the project. The melodic and rhythmic composition of He Poi can also be seen as an analogy for dialogue – a practice of cross rhythm at times in synch and at others out of synch.

Advisors, who will also have the potential to be full collaborators, will be drawn from the neuroscience sector, local iwi from Parihaka, technical communities relating to sound and media installation and conceptual aesthetic theory. This project will be exploring aspects of an investigation that will be occurring in my creative practice PhD currently underway at the University of Auckland. Through this project I am seeking to create a dialogue between scientific and philosophical/spiritual concepts relating to time, memory and space; to explore experiential synthesis within media art installation and other real-time environments; and to create a critical practice informed by recent neuroaesthetic studies. This project is primarily relevant to the strand of 3rd Nature – namely engaging the sciences and hybrid arts.