PHQ Studios 2 Tūhuratia Exploded

  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Member
    PHQ Studios
  • Client
    Museum of Transport and Technology

Born and raised in a world of electronics and gaming, Richard Parry has developed a unique art style that he describes as minimalistic, abstract, and technology-inspired. “I source objects, disassemble them and then photograph them. Sometimes I even put them back together.”

His carefully compiled images combine a fascination with detail and perspective and a playful love of colour, nostalgia, and complexity. 'Tūhuratia Exploded' was the general public’s first-ever chance to submerge themselves in Richard’s work, with a debut exhibition hosted by the Auckland Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).

For Richard, the venue had a special significance. “I remember visiting MOTAT when I was a kid many times and I genuinely think the museum had a lot of influence on what led me to this career.”

In shaping the show, MOTAT reached out to PHQ Studios in 2021 to help bring the exhibition to life with digital innovation. Their very first question posed the challenge beautifully, "how do we explode things... without actually blowing stuff up?"

The MOTAT exhibition team was looking to create an experience on the physical side of digital, with less touch and more full-body movement. It had to be visually engaging, beautiful to look at, and provide an interactive relief from the printed materials, whilst working alongside them. Plus, New Zealand’s complex COVID alert levels had to be taken into consideration.

Our response used sensors and large screens to create unexpected surprise and delight, moments. We accommodated multiple users at any one time in several ‘one bubble’ solutions and prioritised devices that required little maintenance to support the exhibition for long periods without supervision.

Visitors walking into The Exploded Viewer Area were instantly tracked by a Kinect sensor. Skeleton tracking not only tracked their joints but also their entire body movement. This was then used as a controller to manipulate 3D renditions of the artwork seen on projections. With a gesture, visitors could freely pull the images apart and bring them back together. The bearing between their hands could also control the rotation of the objects, and their whole body influenced the axis of the explosion.

For a key target audience, described as ‘people who like to know how things work’, the installations delivered a satisfying sense of involvement. The complexity and detail that the images celebrate could be unleashed or reduced at their prompting. But it wasn’t just the boffins who loved it, people of all ages and personalities were successfully engaged. By bringing movement into the show, the playfulness of the experience connected a wide audience with the fun and fascination inherent to Richard’s artworks.