SCANZ – 3rd Nature

SCANZ – 3rd Nature

Ilka Blue Nelson

28th May 2013

Solar Circuit Aotearoa New Zealand (SCANZ) is New Zealand’s premier art, technology, culture and ecology event and involves a symposium, creative residency, public events and exhibitions. Occurring biennially, it brings together a mix of Aotearoa New Zealand and international artists, producers, theorists and curators.

This year, SCANZ 2013: 3rd nature was facilitated by partnering organisations Intercreate and Te Matahiapo, and focused on three critical axes:

*Acknowledging the environmental crisis
*Engaging with Māori and Indigenous peoples
*Engaging with Sciences and the Hybrid Arts

These three intersecting dialogues evolved a Third Nature, a working space of fresh knowledge, deep knowledge, and diverse cultural, disciplinary and technological approaches that worked toward co-creating a healthier world. (Excerpt from

Experiencing a 3rd Nature

The complexity of our present environmental crisis is unquantifiable, as is the perturbation scale and duration of its aftershocks. We face ecocide as an unknown. Many of us who seek remedies for the crisis have felt the cold edge of that abyss. We can taste the change that is needed but though it is an innate knowledge, it also abandons our grasp. Here is the intangible well of ‘living knowledge’.

I wish not to diminish the incredible projects and people that actuate healing, but to candidly equate the imbalance between our collective efforts and our collective destruction. Being sober to this inequity may help us navigate our future course through the conflicting forces of change. I say this based on a premise that there are two intrinsic phenomena generating the universe: 1) transformation occurs through cycles of creation and collapse; and 2) living systems depend on dynamic relationships. By this reckoning, strengthening our relationships with each other and the more-than-human world may be a sound way to chart our future recovery.

SCANZ 3rd Nature is an experiential example of this possibility. It was alchemised in the relationships between the people who contributed to the gathering, and the natural entities - whenua/ wai/ maunga - of Taranaki. Though subtle, the ripples we seeded are at the heart of what I hope humans can collectively realise - every boundary that separates also connects (Brookner, 2004, 100). At SCANZ we inhabited the daily complexity of proactively engaging each other and the world around us; we connected and communicated through spectrums of difference (disciplinary/ cultural/ philosophical and linguistic) and our openness to the many differences between us created what complexity scholar Edgar Morin describes as, “unity through diversity”.

The connections I made at SCANZ, both physical and metaphoric, gifted me a deeper sense of humanity, brought me closer to accepting the conflict inherent in our universe, helped me realise that there is time for spirit even as time for species shrinks. Whilst forging ‘dynamic relationships’ does not materialise the immediate changes needed for global environmental/climate remediation, it does strengthen our ‘living knowledge’ which is vital to regenerating balance between living systems (cultural and biological) on Earth.

As Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru shared with us at SCANZ, the wisdom of Tino Rangatiratanga is found in the weaving of the whāriki, a mat upon which all people, plants, and creatures can come together equally.


Brookner, Jackie, Alfie Bonanno and Susan Leibowitz Steinman. 2004. “Materials.” In Ecological Aesthetics: Art in Environmental Design: Theory and Practice, edited by Heike Strelow, Herman Prigann and Vera David, 96-103. Basel: Birkhauser.

(SCANZ2013 Symposium at Owae Marae. Photographer: Jo Tito)

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