Kapo, Ka Po Ka Awatea
New Zealand designer Stuart Foster and artist Kura Puke worked with
digital technologies to create an animated semblance of a revered Maori
taonga (treasure). The collaborative objective was to create portable artworks
that contribute to new opportunities for visibility, modes of engagement,
and revitalised presence within both the taonga’s community of origin and
viewers across time and space.
In commemoration of a tauihu (prow of a war canoe) that was included
in the landmark Te Maori exhibitions in the United States (1984-1986),
two artworks were created. Tira Taonga (2015) presented an audio-visual
animation of the tauihu; a reflection of the culmination of cultural protocol and
technical applications that ensured understanding and agreement by the taonga’s
guardians and artwork participants in investigating further digital processes
and expressive iterations. Te Mauri (2016) developed the tauihu animation
from a two-dimensional flat surface into a three-dimensional space. Te Mauri
was comprised of a hollow museum case in which a holographic tauihu slowly
appeared in a life-like illusion, alongside vocal ceremonial expressions.
In a virtual revisit of the tauihu to New York in 2016, Te Mauri sought to
create an experience rejuvenating the memory of the taonga, the Te Maori event,
and the elders who facilitated its realisation. In an artistic expression including
a digital medium, Te Mauri represents taonga as a potent force of memory,
its cues, agency, and continuum revealing the enduring momentum of Maori
knowledge that integrates new experiences of taonga.