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Wading in Place, Madison Kelly


Sat 7 Nov 2020, 8:00am–8:00pm

Where: The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, 2 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch

Restrictions: All Ages

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Listed by: theartscentre

This work has developed from questions first asked during Madison Kelly’s 2017 project about Aotearoa’s kakī/black stilt, in collaboration with conservation geneticist Natalie Forsdick and the Kakī Recovery Programme.

Kakī are one of the world’s rarest wading bird species. Once widespread throughout Aotearoa, they now are limited to just the Waitaki basin and rely on an intensive breeding programme to counter the threats of habitat loss, predation, competition pressures, and cross-breeding with the self-introduced poaka/pied stilt.

In this work Kelly has processed observational drawings using computer software that utilises a machine learning model (artificial intelligence). This model, which works to detect objects in a given image, has been “taught” by hundreds of images sourced from NHNZ’s documentary “The Black Stilt: a bird surrounded by change”, released in 1983 when approximately 50 kakī remained.

The computer-generated outputs locate classes within the images: the birds, plants, rocks, and movements specific to the past sites of the kakī. Drawings of sites in urban Ōtautahi (made during Kelly’s residency) are analysed by the computer model and presented alongside the computer’s own observations. Working together, these two processes form a speculative proposal around new sites for kakī and multispecies interactions.

Madison Kelly (Kāi Tahu, b.1994) graduated from the Dunedin School of Art in 2017. Grounded in observational drawing methodologies, her Ōtepoti Dunedin-based practice is concerned with sites of human/nonhuman entanglement, and their uncertain positions in an era of anthropocentric change. Attention, time, and collaborative research function alongside traditions of natural history and nonhuman representation in her examinations of contemporary nature-cultures.

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