Editorial: Cross Sections

By: Leoni Schmidt

This issue of Scope: Contemporary Research Topics in Art + Design presents the reader with a number of crosssections through responses to matters foremost in the minds of many artists and designers today. Reading across the various items provides insights into the range of thinking and making around these matters.

The issue opens with a focus on political matters: colonial pasts, homophobic threats, the Pike River disaster and the collusion that led to this catastrophe. Then, 2015 having been the UNESCO Year of Light, photography comes into its own with artist-writers introducing the reader to an array of practices ranging from the old camera obscura to its contemporary versions; and sensual beauties created through light and its changeable, and even nomadic, attributes. Sustainability is addressed: architecture using waste materials, recycling of old clothes, the invention of DIY bikes as an alternative for the car, and making musical instruments from what is at hand – with a humorous twist – play lightly with serious matters.

Scope is published in New Zealand but other worlds are often reflected in its contents. This time, Israel makes an appearance in an architecture-photography combination, as does the traditional art of Samoa made contemporary, and the dark past of apartheid South Africa unmasked in a graphic novel. The various materialities found in these submissions bounce off others that foreground a long list of practices with the risograph, using new apps, lovingly rescuing old technologies, threading ‘pearls’, making contemporary conceptual and functional jewellery, etching tattoos, painting tableaux, working clay, and drawing while walking the length of the country.

Dunedin has recently had a street art renaissance as the city undergoes a strategic renewal with many areas and buildings being renovated and enlivened with the various arts. This issue of Scope includes a range of reports on recent street art. We read about concerted efforts and the value of volunteerism in the creation of the many works now dotted around the city, which fascinate residents and visitors alike. Collaboration looms large in this respect, as many people’s energy is needed to make good street art possible. Collaboration also speaks from other projects highlighted in this issue of Scope: “Clink” was a 2015 collaborative project between the Dunedin School of Art and Hungry Creek School of Art and Craft in Auckland; a painter had her work custom printed in the Dunedin School of Art’s Print Lab; new gallery initiatives in the city brought art and design alumni together in fresh new ways. Last, but not least, design students highlight their budding practices in a range of designer pages through which the reader becomes aware of the effort, energy and collaborative work needed to establish a practice and an identifiable fashion identity.

Scope 2015 is big and full and rich, playful and serious, and reflects some of the wide range of interests and practices included in the mix of the Dunedin School of Art at Otago Polytechnic and its wider community and networks. Designers and design students contributed their work to this issue and hopefully will join the ranks in greater numbers in future to reflect the growing synergistic relationship between art and design at Otago Polytechnic.