Mairi is an award winning documentary maker and cinematographer who has shot feature-length dramas, cinematic shorts, a slew of documentaries and music videos. Her practice-led research has broken away from traditional aspect-ratio limitations to create ultra-widescreen (48:9) video. She uses immersive installations to build a commons based on the pre-modern concept of productive, non-hierarchical relationships in a shared space.
Her MPhil video installation, Common Ground, was exhibited at Resilient Places/Resilient: Elders Voices Summit at first nations’ Tsawout Reserve, Vancouver Island, the Pah Homestead (Wallace Arts Trust) and at No 1 Parnell St Gallery in Rawene as part of the 2017 Hokianga Film Festival. She is currently extending her research by investigating how an urban commons might be initiated using Augmented and Virtual Realities and 360° 3D image capture. This work, with Māori and women from migrant backgrounds, forms the basis for her PhD thesis common/room (Elam School of Fine Arts/Design, University of Auckland). It focuses on overcoming intercultural discomfort. Professor Mark Billinghurst (ECL) is Mairi’s co-supervisor.
A preliminary experiment, common/place, has been exhibited at the Whau Arts Festival, Arts West, Fluid Borders Festival and at local libraries (2017-19).
XR experiment, Come to the Table!, in development with other researchers and collaborators from the Empathic Computing Laboratory, was invited to exhibit at SIGGRAPH Asia (Brisbane, 2019). It brings Māori women to the table in AR and includes interactive capabilities. This work explores power-sharing and collective endeavour. A more recent iteration, First Contact, appeared in GARDEN AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND, as part of Ars Electronica (2020), a global experiment in virtual exhibition of digital art and technology, using Mozilla Hubs.
This project explores if XR technologies help overcome intercultural discomfort by using Augmented Reality (AR) and haptic feedback to present a traditional Māori greeting. Using a Hololens2 AR headset, guests see a pre-recorded volumetric virtual video of Tania, a Māori woman, who greets them in a re-imagined, contemporary first encounter between indigenous Māori and newcomers. The visitors, manuhiri, consider their response in the absence of usual social pressures. After a brief introduction, the virtual Tania slowly leans forward, inviting the visitor to ‘hongi’, a pressing together of noses and foreheads in a gesture symbolising “ ...peace and oneness of thought, purpose, desire, and hope”. This is felt as a haptic response delivered via a custom-made actuator built into the visitors' AR headset. Team: Performer/Script Writer - Tania Remana Designer - Mairi Gunn Supervision - Mark Billinghurst & Huidong Bai Developer - Prasanth Sasikumar Haptics - Sachith Muthukumarana Technical support - Ryo Hajika & Steve Hind
Gunn, M., Billinghurst, M., Bai, H., & Sasikumar, P. (2021). First Contact‐Take 2: Using XR technology as a bridge between Māori, Pākehā and people from other cultures in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Virtual Creativity, 11(1), 67-90.