Biorhythms: Nga Manawataki o te Koiora

Still from Biorhythms by UnCalculated

Rewa Wright, Simon Howden. Juried Artist
The Cube at QUT Gardens Point

Artist Statement

“Nga manawataki o te koiora: Biorhythms”, is a video piece that takes you on a journey into a computa-tional transduction of the forest, rivers and oceans of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Mixing the biorhythms of plants and the calls of the native Tui bird with human produced electronic music, reveals a co-creative mesh of human and nonhuman kin, an entanglement that is fundamental. For example in one thread of Rewa’s pepeha (personal genealogy), she traces lineage to the maunga (mountain) called Tokatoka, the awa (river) called Wairoa, and the moana (sea) called Kaipara. These connections are at the base of her identity and this is the same for all Māori, since our genealogy is tied to the whenua (land). Transducing this physical connection with the land into computational space is only ever partial, however hints at the ways Indigenous knowledge might be embodied as data and algorithms, nurturing a framework that advances decolonial thought and gestures toward Indigenous futures.
In Nga manawataki o te koiora, visually, an interconnected natural ecology is translated into the real-time world of audio reactive geometries and mesh topologies. The concept was to convey the feeling of these things, without literal interpretation. Traditional kete (woven baskets) inspire fluid movements which become pixel topologies. Animated motion made with noise oscillators, shift from reimagined nets used to catch eel (hiinaki), to seed pods exploding from pixel plants, such as the red pōhutukawa. The soft blue/green of kina (sea eggs) become fluffy vectors transparently overlaid on a fluid mesh of waves. Following and modifying the tradition of naturalism and curvilinear geometry that marks traditional Māori art, this piece visually encapsulates the feeling of the natural world without being a literal repre-sentation that vested in Western pictorial traditions of realism. The plant signals are essentially bio-electrical impulses, which we then assign to MIDI and apply sound design to, so that soft wooden drums with loose skins and resonant tapping highlight the microtemporality and asymmetry of plants, whose signals sound unstructured to the human ear. Plant rhythm is phenological, and traces their processes such as photosynthesis and osmosis as they follow patterns of growth. Several plant neurobiologists (such as Stefano Mancuso and Monica Gagliano) have noted the signals that plants emit are akin to intentional communication and sentience, and this is now a recognized area of scientific study.

About the artists

Rewa Wright has been working with plants and algorithms in mixed reality (MR) since 2012, and has 20 years of experience in various aspects of photographic, moving, and virtual image creation. She is an interactive media designer and inverse technologist who combines artificial vision technologies with living plants and custom-built software to examine the conditions of our relationship to computation, plants, ecology and the body. Rewa has presented academic and artistic research internationally in Por-tugal, Canada, Hong Kong, Colombia, Spain, London and New Zealand. Her research weaves together theory and practice in design practice and theory, cyberfeminism, interaction design, technoculture, camera-less photography, machine learning and other digital design techniques, to think through some of the thorny problems posed by our new hybrid physical and digital spaces. Rewa’s cultural back-ground is First Nations Māori, from the Ngai Tawake, Te Kaimaroke, and Te Uri o Hau hapu of Aotea-roa/New Zealand.

Simon Howden is an audio-visual artist and music producer. He creates bespoke soundscapes using plant bio-electrical signals and other experimental ephemera. Simon holds a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture and Intermedia from Elam School of Art ( University of Auckland). Simon has presented talks about his artistic research in 6 countries. As a popular musician, Simon collaborates primarily with Jamaican, Caribbean diaspora and Hispanic reggaeton artists, with whom he has over 35 million views on youtube and is represented on most major streaming platforms. His instrumentals have featured on the Billboard charts in versions by various artists, including Busta Rhymes, Popcaan, Vybz Kartel, Lu-midee, Sizzla Kalonji and remixed into live performances by Wyclef Jean.

Credits: Wright & Howden (UnCalculated Studio)

URL:, Instagram is @Un_calculated, and @ashes_inferno

ISEA2024 acknowledges the Turrbal and Yugara as the First Nations owners of the lands where the symposium will be held. We pay our respects to their elders, lores, customs and creation spirits. We also acknowledge and pay respects to all First Nations peoples across the continent and beyond Australian shores.