Air NZ's new sleep-inducing video art

Air NZ's new sleep-inducing video art

Long-haul Air New Zealand passengers will be soothed to sleep by new Kiwi artwork on the airline’s inflight entertainment programme from mid-January thanks to an AUT initiative.

The video Delta, by artist and AUT lecturer Clinton Watkins, features a continuous slow shot along a New Zealand east coast road and a gentle abstract soundtrack that incorporates low frequency sound waves to lull passengers into a sleepy state. Watkins specialises in investigating the effects that combinations of sound and vision can have on the viewer/listener.

The second artwork, Pioneer City Welcome Video, by Wellington artist Bronwyn Holloway-Smith and animator/filmmaker Simon Ward, is a mock inflight welcome video to a colony on Mars called Pioneer City.

The initiative is the brainchild of artist and curator Dr Melissa Laing, of AUT’s CoLab creative technologies centre. Wanting to get art out of galleries and into public places, she nabbed funding from Creative New Zealand to set up New Terrains, a project that has also led to a series of digital works being shown on a giant screen at Auckland’s Aotea Centre.

Laing, whose PhD thesis examined the social and artistic response to civil aviation, saw air travel as another opportunity for artwork to be seen by thousands of viewers and approached Air New Zealand which committed to screening and supporting the work.

“We [CoLab] commissioned innovative New Zealand content for an environment which doesn’t normally have artworks made for it,” she says.

“We wanted the selected artwork to engage with the passengers’ inflight experience. We all have our own subjective idea of flight which could be to do with business, migration, diaspora, family or holiday.”

Laing hopes the project will inspire other airlines around the world. “There is a precedent for artworks in airports but not on planes. This will be the first.”

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