New augmented reality experience featuring local artists launches for Ōtautahi Christchurch

Gap Filler’s Pae Tākaro Place of Play programme has collaborated with Dr Troy Innocent from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) future play lab to create an Augmented Reality (AR) journey in Ōtautahi Christchurch called ‘64 Ways of Being’ that will premiere at the Doc Edge Festival 2024.

64 Ways of Being’ is an immersive experience that uses place-based participatory artworks, digital art and stories to bring the streets, parks and Ōtākaro Avon to life via mixed reality. Players will explore the streets of Ōtautahi and be guided through the city and along the banks of the Ōtākaro. Along the way, players are prompted to reimagine the world through urban play.

64 ways of being

Stories from the CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive are included in the experience.

This project draws together Indigenous and tauiwi (non-Māori) artists and the diverse stories of our city through playable public art, encouraging people to engage with the city in new ways. This collaboration also supports long-term strategic research and evaluation of the social and/or cultural benefits of the urban play experience. Kate Finnerty, Gap Filler’s Urban Play coordinator says, “64 Ways of Being comes as part of the Pae Tākaro Place of Play urban play programme.”

“With the rebuild, we’ve got this beautiful city, the Pae Tākaro programme wants to ensure it is a city that feels welcoming and inspiring through playful events and installations.”

“64 Ways of Being sits really well with that. It’s a different way to explore, a different way to hear the stories, a different way to interact with artworks.”

Vanessa Karakia-Kore Gray (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu (Kāti Irakehu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri) is the project’s creative director and cultural consultant. She has curated, written and voiced multiple sections of the journey.

“It seemed like a great time to encourage self-reflection and play. 64 players are invited to do so using different art forms, te ao Māori methods and AR technology. I hope – even if in a small way, it contributes to a more meaningful understanding of ourselves, our stories and our surroundings”.

Street artist and designer Kophie Su’a-Hulsbosch (Samoan, Dutch), theatre practitioner Popi Newbery (Ngāi Tūhoe) and poet Ben Brown (Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Koroki, Ngāti Paoa) have collaborated on a digital character, who guides participants through an immersive augmented reality experience along the Greenway/inner city.

Ben Brown reflects on the project: “Telling stories of place and people adds to our humanity. It always has. Working with Kophie and Popi in this digital AR realm revealed to me a new and wonderful way of being able to elaborate upon this human journey of ours. As a poet, I’m stoked with the outcome and grateful for the opportunity.”

Sound artist Jo Burzynska has designed a site-specific, multiplayer music experience that is controlled by the players and responds to an artwork installation on-site.

Ngāi Tahu and Samoan artist Lonnie Hutchinson, is collaborating on an augmented reality experience that brings her artwork on the Justice Precinct to life with moving graphics and sound.

Tongan artist Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine will guide users to another augmented reality experience at his artwork, Vaka ‘A Hina in Rauora Park.

The experience features tracks from local musicians including Ariana Tikao, Haast Hāwea, Judith Bell, Junus Orca, Ladi6, Mahinia-Ina Kingi-Kaui, Motte, NFY and the late Bulletproof.

Dr Troy Innocent, as artistic director, shaped the journey and brought new methods of creative placemaking to the project:

“This project is an example of how the future play lab works with creative placemaking, over three visits to Ōtautahi Christchurch I have connected this new journey with place, collaborating with local artists and musicians to translate their work into a digital context, exploring the linguistic, social, creative, environmental and cultural diversity of the city’s past, present and future. What ways of being will take us forward to a collective future?”

The project is funded by the Australian Research Council, Smart Christchurch and ChristchurchNZ. 64 Ways of Being will premiere in Ōtautahi as part of the DocEdge Festival on 19 June.

This research was funded by ARC Linkage Project LP220100066 Play about Place: Expanding the impact of Creative Placemaking after COVID through the Australian Research Council.