One of our volunteers works for the Blue Oyster Art Gallery. I was surprised to find it: down a lane off Moray Place opposite the Rialto and behind a blue door (sort of like finding Narnia). I don’t think even Hidden Dunedin know that they are there. Maybe they haven’t been discovered yet!

Inside it is a basement, low brick ceiling and white painted, a meandering space of alcoves. The art showing was five sound helmets with sound-scapes from five cities around the world. None of them are labeled so they could be anywhere. The artist in the discussion I attended talked abouth Geography and geology, meaning the location of the city the sound-scape is from and the situation where the listener hears them. They are interactive. I would add geometry, meaning the interesting shape of the helmets themselves.

As we listened to the discussion the sound helmets worked their art in the ambient noise: sirens, chimes and even a cow I’m told (it may be from the Istanbul helmet). Despite being in a space I had not discovered before the discussion was well attended.

The archivist in me warmed to hear that sound and media artists are concerned about the preservation of their art. The concerns are the same. What is the true medium for preserving their art? If it is transfered, say from tape to DVD, is it still authentic? What information is lost in transfer? New Zealand Archivists have not come up with definite policy on this either, as far as I know.