The Spinoff: Paradise Camp
June 30, 2022
Art Review: The Intersectional Experiences of Fa’afafine – Yuki Kihara on Representing New Zealand at the 59th Venice Biennale
June 30, 2022

Idealog: The future of art – digitising and use of AI in ‘Paradise Camp’

Yuki Kihara. Photo: Luke Walker

An exhibition showcasing a cultural story of Samoa’s third gender, Fa’afafine by Yuki Kihara, is coming alive thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) technology developed in New Zealand.

Interdisciplinary artist of Japanese and Samoan descent Yuki Kihara is representing New Zealand on the global stage with her exhibition ‘Paradise Camp’, bringing 12 photographs shot in Upolu Island, Samoa to life with the use of AI.

“I always wanted to produce an exhibition that prioritised and empowered the Fa’afafine [meaning ‘in the manner of a woman’] community which is a community that I belong to,” Kihara says.

TBWA\NZ’s Digital Art Network and the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa collaborated with Kihara to use AI to create a virtual experience that will “allow visitors to discover the deeper story behind each photograph”.

“I’m pleased to have had the members of the Fa’afafine community working both in front of and behind the camera as part of the production crew,” Kihara says.

The photographs emulate and are inspired by a number of paintings by post-impressionist artist Paul Gaugin who was heavily influenced by late-19th century Tahiti.

The exhibition is currently on display at the New Zealand Pavilion of the prestigious 59th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, in Venice.

Kihara says the piece was described by international media outlets such as CNN and the Financial Times as “powerful” and “triumphant”.

“As a result, we have high visitation for ‘Paradise Camp’ with ongoing requests for me to present floor talks.”

The use of AI will also allow those who are unable to visit to see the piece in a digital space.

Caren Rangi, Commissioner of the New Zealand’s presentation at the Biennale Arte 2022 and Chair of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa, says that the collaboration came after the Arts Council became “acutely aware” of the need to pivot towards digital in response to Covid-19.

“Due to the pandemic, with people not necessarily being able to travel, we needed to find a way to help show her work, replacing the job that would usually be done by the attendant or curator,” says David Parkinson, General Manager of Digital and Innovation of Digital Arts Network.

He adds that the technology is coupled with Kihara’s art to “enable users to uncover the backstory of her art and create a broader experience”.

Rangi says a digital component is used to allow audiences to “watch and hear Kihara speaking to her research and creation process, and Paradise Camp themes and stories”.

Read the interview in full here on Idealog’s website.