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Researchers in art and photography undertake a dynamic and compelling range of research activities. Projects by faculty and postgraduate students lead to exhibitions, publications, moving image works, critical writing and many other creative outputs that engage national and international audiences. The university harnesses these creative energies to address important social, cultural, environmental and political issues, and other critical and contemporary matters.
Often working in collaboration with scientists or experts across disciplines, research in this area raises environmental histories to the forefront, whilst heightening knowledge around the issues faced by communities today. Areas of research interest include land use and landscape change, impacts on whenua (lands), water quality, climate change adaptations and risk assessments, invasive species and changing ecologies.
Our experts contribute to research about the changing aspects of contemporary art and the ways it operates within an expanding cultural environment. We have expertise in Māori visual art, contemporary New Zealand art and contemporary installation, moving image and photographic art practices.
We have expertise in the curation and communication of narratives and affective experiences that shape a critical awareness of the complex nature of culture and politics. Research outputs are often thematic and can contribute to larger festivals and other multi-venue initiatives. Our researchers are well connected to current exhibition networks nationally and internationally.
This area of art research explores the ways societies remember and subsequently develop approaches to memorialisation. Research encompasses memory from the personal to the national. The Memory Waka Research Group leads a number of major initiatives including national and international conferences.
Māori visual culture is a major focus of research, and encompasses diverse practices underpinned by a kaupapa Māori context. Researchers in this area are highly connected to their iwi and hapū communities while maintaining nationally recognised international research and art making practices.
Researchers in this area are often pushing the boundaries of what is understood as drawing and painting. ‘Drawing as Expanded Practice’ utilises new technologies and engages social issues, while our painting-based researchers often work with site-specific methods and diverse ways of exhibiting.
Our researchers are actively engaged in using live performance as a direct mode of artistic research practice. They often engage with complex social and cultural issues and activate spaces through performance strategies and situation-responsive practices.
Photography-based research utilises a broad spectrum of approaches to engaging with social, cultural and environmental issues. Researchers use modes such as documentary, visual narrative, exhibition installation, photo-book and moving image to present their work.
New technologies are utilised by our researchers to develop innovative filmic and video works. These engage complex social and cultural themes and are often presented at leading international festivals as well as within gallery contexts as screen and projected artworks.
Find programmes with a research element, including the PhD.
Search our staff database for an expert or area of expertise.
The environmental threats faced by the world’s bee populations was inspiration for the latest major exhibition by Distinguished Professor Anne Noble.
Mata Aho are a collective of Māori artists who are all alumni of Massey. Rooted in te ao Māori (the Māori worldview), their work entangles mythology, actuality, and materiality. Kiko Moana was commissioned by Hendrick Folkerts, curator for documenta14, to show at the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Kassel, Germany in 2017. Mata Aho were the first New Zealand Māori artists to be invited to exhibit at documenta, alongside artists Nathan Pohio and Ralph Hotere.
Associate Professor Heather Galbraith was invited to be Managing Curator for three iterations of SCAPE Public Art, an annual season of art in public space in Ōtautahi Christchurch. SCAPE Public Art is the longest running and most ambitious public art series in New Zealand.
Stela was a research investigation into remembrance undertaken by Professor Kingsley Baird at Militärhistorisches Museum (Military History Museum), Dresden, Germany, in 2014. It included a temporary memorial form composed of a stainless steel ‘cenotaph' surrounded by 20,500 edible, soldier-shaped Anzac recipe biscuits. The biscuits, representing the combatants of World War I, were stacked by the artist before being consumed by museum visitors. The work represents the artist’s investigation of memory, memorialisation, and remembrance.
Te Puna o Te Mātauranga is a contemporary painted meeting house that is supported by the art forms of weaving and carving. Central to the visual impact of the house are the curvilinear painted and carved patterns, and the rectilinear patterns found in weaving. The 'baskets of knowledge' narratives are the applied concepts to the house.
The Deep South National Science Challenge Vision Mātauranga team from Massey University (and others) alongside Horowhenua hapū researchers, have received ongoing funding for Risk Management Planning for Climate Change impacts on Māori coastal ecosystems and economies for 2017-2019. This Māori-led interdisciplinary, kaupapa Māori and action research project aims to develop integrative decision making tools that, given local conditions, enable Māori communities to assess the risks and benefits associated with alternate coastal land use adaptation strategies.
Wayne Barrar’s project “The Glass Archive” has visualised and documented archives related to microscopic algae called diatoms. These graphic and striking silica forms were collected, classified and traded from the nineteenth century onwards and now tell us much about climate change.
His photomicrographs suggest how these organisms were commodified in both scientific and cultural contexts, unpacking narratives and histories.
Creative media lecturer Justin Rotolo is a CGI artist with years of experience with visual effects and animation studios in the USA and UK. He worked in Framestore to solve the unique technical challenges presented by Gravity, an Academy Award and BAFTA winning film. Justin’s work helped establish new workflows for achieving the large scale and seamless integration of weightless actors in photorealistic digital space environments.
Waiuta is an exploration of the way our culture remembers historic places and lost communities through the 'ghost town' Waiuta in the West Coast region. Differing layers of memory combine; from 'official' artefacts such as the preserved site itself and historic photos from the Alexander Turnbull Library, through to popular culture in photographs of model village 'Little Earth'. Together these elements contrast mechanisms we use to remember and recall, both individually and collectively.
Whiteout Whitenoise is a collaborative project between photographer Anne Noble and book designer Anna Brown. The exhibition uses the concept of a deconstructed book, with images of Antarctica’s light and atmospheric phenomena taken by Professor Noble.
See some of our student research in art and photography at Massey.
Jess Richards' research is an exploration of experimental creative writing processes within a range of story-telling modes. Her research proposal is that through the juxtaposing of magical and rational thinking as polarities within fiction writing, creative writing can deliberately fracture the narrative’s position in relation to historical time and geographic location, suggesting something of the ‘here and elsewhere’ of the folkloric tale.Jess Richards
Doctor of Philosophy
Liang Cui’s creative practice PhD research investigates her vicarious experience as inherited from the imposition of normative sexual behaviour on her mother in China in the 1960s and 70s. The geographical and cultural displacement, from China to New Zealand, has provided Liang Cui with an opportunity to reflect on her experiences. The research aims to re-narrativise her own sexuality through art practice as a means to understand its construction.Liang Cui
Doctor of Philosophy
Malcolm Doidge’s creative practice research employs virtual reality (VR) to explore the idea of place in relation to history, culture, scale, size, material and imagination. His spatial and sculptural practice investigates how to use and adapt virtual reality; in particular using photogrammetry to map and model local objects and texture.Malcolm Doidge
Doctor of Philosophy
Mizuho Nishioka PhD thesis, "A String of Data: Disrupting, altering and generating the photographic image” addressed how photographic technology is historically presented as a series of subliminal transactions in the production of the photographic image. Mizuho’ thesis examined how making photographic works can harness such technological processes to alter the aesthetic and theoretical positioning of a contemporary photographic practice.Mizuho Nishioka
Doctor of Philosophy
Raewyn’s PhD research developed biopolymer painting mediums and substrates. She is working with polymer scientists to develop a range of material qualities, pigmentations, and sensitivities within paint films. Her work moves between painting and science methodologies and knowledge systems, seeking to understand how processes of entropy and empathy are intertwined within phenomenological experience.Raewyn Martyn
Doctor of Philosophy
This residency programme was established in 2016 as a partnership between Massey University’s College of Creative Arts and the Office of the Governor General. In the grounds of Government House, a small cottage has been made available for established Māori and Pasifika artists to research and produce new work. The residency aims to encourage and promote indigenous visual arts and to build relationships with our Māori and Pasifika communities.
In 2014 Whiti o Rehua School of Art, in partnership with Wellington City Council, launched an International Artist Residency Programme. Now also partnering with the French Embassy, the programme is designed to bring contemporary international artists to live, work and exhibit in Wellington city. Based in a studio on the Wellington waterfront, Te Whare Hēra offers an hospitable, generative platform for the production of high quality, innovative, creative work and to foster connections and opportunities for ongoing exchange and collaboration.