The Southern Cross cable : a tour : art, the internet and national identity in Aotearoa-New Zealand : an exegesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Fine Arts, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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This exegesis is the written analytical component of a studio-based Doctor of Philosophy that, as a whole, investigates the influence of international hegemony and power structures on popular notions of Aotearoa-New Zealand’s national identity. Selected histories and locations of New Zealand’s primary international internet connection, the Southern Cross Cable, have been taken and applied within a body of conceptually driven artworks that function as an effective metonymic vehicle to reveal unseen processes, conveyed over a specific infrastructural system, that are influential upon New Zealand’s national identity. The creative works in this thesis comprise the suite of artworks The Southern Cross Cable: A Tour, a multi-platform art project comprising two moving image works, a sculptural work, a published tour guide and its associated web-based work. These sit alongside, and in response to, a historic mid-twentieth century New Zealand mural: Te Ika-a-Maui [sic] by the artist E. Mervyn Taylor. Together, these works encourage public awareness of the jurisdictional limits of the internet, and illustrate ways in which an individual member of the public can respond to the supposedly ‘intangible’ internet in a physical manner. By strategically subverting popular nationalist symbolism, the works raise questions about the relevance of nationalism in an era of expanding globalisation and suggest the internet is increasingly becoming a tool of digital colonialism. By distributing this knowledge in the public sphere, this study challenges and tests the assumption—often asserted and implied by those who control this infrastructure and obscure it from public awareness—that public knowledge is a threat to the cable. Instead, viewers are encouraged to explore what individual agency they do, or do not, have as New Zealand citizens in shaping this dominant influence on contemporary New Zealand culture.
Multimedia (Art), New Zealand, Conceptual art, Internet, Philosophy, Political aspects, Transpacific cables, History, Cables, Submarine, National characteristics, New Zealand, Public opinion, Mural painting and decoration, Influence, Taylor, E. Mervyn, Te Ika-a-Maui, Holloway-Smith, Bronwyn, The Southern Cross Cable: A Tour, Exhibition