Massey University College of Creative Arts 25 Run Dog Run Where Memories Sleep II

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Jason O'Hara
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Directors
    Warren Maxwell, Ooshcon Masseurs
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Sue Prescott, Ruben O'Hara, Ngaere Jenkins, Zaniah Fae, Trent Omeri, Montell Nickel, Samara Reweti, Stela Dara, Lauren O'Hara, Rachel Neser, Ellie Buchie, Adam Dransfield, Virginia Giglione, Durgesh Patel
  • Kaitautoko / Contributors
    Bruce Foster, Anthony Powell
  • Client
    Pātaka Art + Museum

Science needs storytelling.
How do you introduce new audiences to Antarctic science? After all, much of the science undertaken at Scott Base relates directly to climate change - a topic very relevant to us all. But our research suggests that the typical formats of science communication (documentaries and science "news") have limited appeal to the public other than those already engaged. For Antarctica New Zealand, young adults, especially Pacifica and Māori, are a particularly difficult group to reach. We looked to the past for a solution. For centuries aural storytelling, dance, puppetry and theatre have been used to engage, inform, educate and entertain the public. The Where Memories Sleep project draws upon these traditional techniques by creating a contemporary pūrākau (Legend) told through an installation that blurs the lines between dance, theatre, music and film.

Housed within Porirua City's community hub/art gallery, Pātaka, the science comes to the people using a trojan horse strategy.
Outwardly the show is marketed as exactly what appeals to the target audience - pure entertainment. The style is contemporary and dynamic. The cast is young with a strong Pacific and Māori bias. The dance styles are diverse including street-style. The music is loud and funky. The metaphorical narrative, inspired by the activity of the scientists, includes direct references to historic Polynesian explorer Ui-te-Rangiora.
What's not to like?
But to get to the good stuff the audience is unavoidably exposed to a carefully constructed back-story about its creation. The science and how it inspired the artists is presented well crafted behind-the-scenes videos, talks, interviews, workshops and handouts. In all instances, the science message is made simple and relevant. The scientists are presented in relatable ways - as humans exploring the world around them.

Execution and Evaluation
At its core is a seven-channel video projected onto a sculptural representation of a glacier that wraps around the audience immersing them in the narrative.
Embedded within an international science team, the designers visited Antarctica twice collecting a wealth of knowledge, imagery and audio that is woven into the projections.
During filming, the crew regularly danced in complex green-screen sets with invisible partners. In post-production, they were digitally multiplied to create a cast of hundreds and in the final scene, the movement of one dancer generates the Aurora Australis.
Throughout the project, material use and waste were kept to an absolute minimum and on completion, all the cloth will be repurposed.
Despite COVID, close to 90,00 people saw it in the four months it was on. It attracted young and old alike including numerous school groups with teachers reporting great uptake of the key messages. It was variously described as "Dope", "Sick", "Mesmerising" and "... more satisfying than chocolate". One critic said, "I wanted to lie down in the space and let it wash over me. It felt as though I could feel the freezing ocean and was lifted into the sparkling sky... [This is] the kind of storytelling I am excited to tell my children about."