College of Humanities

Digital Installation Artwork Analysed for Degree

Digital installation artwork, Graffiti Nature – Mountains and Valleys, completed by team Lab in 2016, was the subject of honours research.

Ms Bhavna Pather was awarded a summa cum laude Honours degree in Digital Arts for her research that analysed the relationship between the human experience and art through technology.

‘Responsive digital installation art is an emerging genre of digital art in which technology exclusively uses the digital medium from production to presentation,’ said Pather.

In connection with her research project, Pather worked on creating a digitally responsive installation artwork, triggered by motion sensors to further understand the notion of ‘play’ and how this relates to audience members experience of digital art and their want to interact with art in the age of digital technology.

According to Pather, these immersive environments are a facet of digital installations that aim to mask their means of interactivity, with a means to encourage participation. ‘Art is a seen as purely an act of experience and pleasure, there is no monetary or physical outcome or reward that comes with engaging with art besides the pure want of the audience member to experience that artwork.’

By creating a responsive environment in her digital installation, Pather also hoped to broaden the role of the audience member from just a viewer to a participant in the creation of the art they are viewing. ‘This idea is becoming more and more popular in art as further means of creation are being brought forward and afforded to artists today,’ she added.

Pather is confident her research will in some ways benefit the UKZN Digital Art discipline on the Pietermaritzburg campus. ‘I hope that other students are encouraged to create art from new and emerging fields – through my research I showcased my School in making it possible to achieve every ambitious idea I set out to achieve. I am grateful for the overwhelming support I received from my family, friends, lecturers, supervisor Mr Wayne Reddiar and fellow students.’

During her studies, Pather’s father died – he had been a warrant officer at the

Point Police Station in Durban. ‘Even though he won’t see me graduate, his love, support and belief in me even when I didn’t believe in myself have taken me through every difficulty and hardship I have ever faced. I miss him.’

With support from Digital Arts lecturer Professor Michelle Stewart, Pather received a scholarship from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. She is staying in Belgium working on a collaborative drawing project between the Royal Academy and UKZN. ‘I hope this leads to brighter and greater things in my career, knowing that the experiences I receive from this opportunity are once in a lifetime.’

Her advice for students was: ‘Most things in life worth doing will be difficult, but they make us better people. A support system is sometimes taken for granted but it can be what gets you through difficult times. Stay strong, and see yourself the way you want others to see you.’