Stories are transported across time and continents; distorted histories that may or may not have happened take on a different form in different lands. Through the distortion of history new meanings are created.
Artists and visitors alike had to travel to this work, ferried by Sea Cadets across the sea, enacting an expedition as both ethnographers and enablers of a new story. The island became a 'ground' for this shared experience; examined and experienced at various points, and in all the spaces in-between. Knowledge is periodically and temporarily revealed.
The Cave | Walker & Bromwich
The following tale is a Scottish Story brought to Quarantine Island:
Robert the Bruce was crowned King of Scotland in 1306 and henceforth tried to free Scotland from the English.
After being defeated six times in battle, Bruce escaped and found a hideout in a cave. Hiding in a cave for three months, Bruce was at the lowest point of his life. He thought about leaving Scotland and never coming back.
While waiting, he watched a spider building a web in the cave's entrance. The spider fell down time after time. Finally, on the seventh attempt, the spider succeeded with his web. Inspired, Bruce gathered himself for his own, seventh attempt.
He told his men: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again".
Taking as a starting point the story of Robert the Bruce’s epiphanic encounter with a spider, we set out to discover new histories created through the exchange of stories in a cave perched on the edge of the intertidal zone created through time and tides somewhere between fact and fiction.
Discovery | Adam Hyde & Douglas Bagnall
We are going to try to discover a new species of seaweed on Quarantine Island. It is also possible that we will find invasive seaweeds that didn’t previously live here, perhaps carried by a ship. There are many undiscovered species in and around New Zealand and taxonomy is a dying art.
The process of discovering new species hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years…you need to collect samples, draw them, describe them in detail (measure) and then look them up.
The best place to collect seaweed is the intertidal zone, the point at which the land meets the sea at lowest tide, and looking at different habitats, eg rockpools, beaches.
Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua is the largest island in Otago Harbour, close to the city of Dunedin, New Zealand.
Only one of the quarantine buildings from these years is still standing, and this has currently begun to be restored. After the quarantine station closed the island was leased. The present lessee is the interdenominational St Martin Island Community, founded in 1958 for work and worship on the island. Since then a great deal of reforestation and replanting has been done.
The unofficial name of 'St Martin Island' is in common use. In 1996 as part of the Ngai Tahu settlement the name of Kamau Taurua, meaning 'a place to set nets' was restored as part of the official name.
Commissioned in association with Blue Oyster Art Project Space and curated by Caro McCaw and Rachel Gillies. Supported by Otago Polytechnic and with thanks to Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Taste Nature, Bendigo Foundation, Tangente Cafe, Edinburgh College of Art, CNZ Creative Communities.
Douglas Bagnall, Cloud Shape Classifier, 2006
Douglas Bagnall's practice is concerned with the intersections of art and technology. Over the last decade Bagnall has developed a significant body of digital work, for both online and gallery environments. Primarily Bagnall makes algorhythmic machines which test out art's established notions of experimentation, abstraction and taste often through viewer participation. Bagnall's most recent project, Cloud Shape Classifier, commissioned for Zero One Festival of Digital Arts in San Jose (2006), is one such example. In this instance a bank of digital images of the sky are routinely captured and then presented within a simple online interface, where they are then available for ranking according to the tastes of its many users, with the aim of discovering the most liked clouds. Like much of Bagnall's work Cloud Shape Classifier astutely deals with the contemporary arena of digital space and audience participation within more formal aesthetic traditions.
All of Bagnall's projects can be accessed at www.halo.gen.nz where much of the artist's work continues to operate beyond exhibition. Previous projects include Cloud Shape Classifier, Zero One, San Jose; Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington; Ramp Gallery, Hamilton (2006) and the Shanghai International Festival of Art and Science (2007), Mimetic Television (2006), Music Industry Simulator (2004) and The Film Making Robot, shown in Telecom Prospect: New Art New Zealand, New Zealand Film Archive, Wellington (2004), as well as the films The Sea pt 3 (1996) and Random Geographical Survey (1998).
Bagnall was one of the first recipients of the Creative New Zealand Smash Palace grants for the collaborative work UpStage with Helen Varley Jamieson and Vicki Smith. In 2003 he was Digital Artist in Residence at the University of Waikato. Douglas Bagnall was born in Wellington, where he currently lives, working both as an artist and programmer.