Air New Zealand

March 2011 – February 2013

New Terrains (Air New Zealand and Colab Partnership)

Partnerships in creative and technical research and development are key to creating imaginative innovation and strong networks in the creative technology sector. Colab’s partnership with Air New Zealand is one example of how we have successfully facilitated collaboration to support new opportunities for creative practitioners and forge mutually beneficial relationships.

Colab’s collaboration with Air New Zealand, supported by Creative New Zealand, led to the production and presentation of two original works for screen that  interrogated the in-flight experience. The ‘New Terrains’ commissions were presented on Air New Zealand’s in-flight entertainment programme for a period of three months between December 2012 and March 2013 – providing  a rare opportunity for artists to engage with passengers’ in-flight experience.

The originator of the concept, Melissa Laing of AUT University’s ST PAUL St Gallery, said the works were intended to be experimental arts-oriented pieces rather than narrative short-films. “We were looking for visual art, animation, dance on film, experimental film – works that innovatively explored how a work for screen can illuminate the in-flight experience, and perhaps change the passenger’s perception of it.”

The Project:
While it often seems as if time spent in-flight is a temporary suspension of life, the experience of international flight and the politics it intersects with are complex and multi-faceted. Melissa, Colab, and Air New Zealand were keen to encourage proposals that addressed one of a number of issues including the subjective experience of flight, and the history and fantasy of flight.

Air New Zealand has screened some local content before, although it was short film with a traditional narrative structure. This commission was an opportunity for artwork on screen to be seen by thousands of viewers.

‘We specifically wanted to commission innovative New Zealand content for an environment that doesn’t normally have works made for it. While not everyone on board will watch the works, it’s placing contemporary art practices in an environment where people are open to viewing something other than a Hollywood blockbuster,’ said Melissa.

Representatives of Air New Zealand and Inflight Productions participated in the selection process. ‘Delta’  by Clinton Watkins and ‘Pioneer City’ by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith and Simon Ward were commissioned with support from Creative New Zealand and Colab.

Benefits of Collaboration:
Partnership has been key to getting this project underway. This included applying for funding from Creative New Zealand, as well as commitment to screening the works and support and assistance with the upload cost from Air New Zealand and Inflight Productions. Colab’s role has been to liaise between all the parties, and ensure the smooth execution of the project from start to finish. Melissa says,

“The reason I came to Colab with the concept was because the project aligns with Colab’s goals, and for the institutional support they provide. Colab is about developing professional capability and they were committed to being able to pay an artist’s fee as well as pay for the production of the work. They also provided me with administrative support.”

The partnership between Colab and Air New Zealand has mutual benefits. Air New Zealand’s identity is all about New Zealand-ness and innovation, which is a natural fit with the work that Colab is involved in. Colab is a centre for innovation in technology and arts, and this project promotes of New Zealand identity through developing local creativity. What Air New Zealand brings is the platform – the opportunity to be innovative, to screen artwork in a place it has never been screened. Sonali Amarasingham of Inflight Productions says,

“There’s a pool of knowledge between us, and if we can pool that knowledge together and reach the talent, we’ve got the perfect vehicle for them.”

Through working together, a productive relationship has developed between Colab, Air New Zealand, and Inflight Productions. Sonali is thrilled to be a part of such a project. She says “This is a great concept, and the perfect project to start the ball rolling. Air New Zealand and Inflight Productions are proud to be a part of providing opportunity for New Zealand artists.”

Melissa hopes that, longer term, the project may be able to continue and grow. There is a precedent for artworks in airports, but not on planes. “You have the case of British Airways that have an ongoing practice of commissioning artwork, but these art works are for their lounges. If this is successful, I hope that other airlines would do this as well – a snowballing of the project around the world”.

Twelve expressions of interest were submitted in  mid November 2011. The two commissioned works were screened on Air New Zealand’s in-flight entertainment system during the peak 2012/2013 summer season.

Watch an excerpt from ‘Delta’

Watch  a promo from ‘Pioneer City’