Te Lapa: Polynesian Navigation Illuminated
Kyle McDonald, Daisy Mahaina from Vaka Valo Association, and Dr. Marianne George
In-progress

Kyle McDonald, Daisy Mahaina from Vaka Valo Association, and Dr. Marianne George will document ancient Polynesian navigation techniques with new technology, including “Te Lapa”: a faint burst of light that emanates from land, but has never been recorded. The project aims to build a custom camera rig that can sense this very faint light, and capture the first-ever video of Te Lapa. Documentation resulting from the project will serve as a pedagogical tool. 
 

Te Lapa simulation with graphic image overlay. Daniel Jackson. Photo by Mimi George. © Vaka Taumako Project
Te Lapa simulation with graphic image overlay. Daniel Jackson. Photo by Mimi George. © Vaka Taumako Project

 

About the Artists

Dr. George is an anthropologist, sailor, and writer specialized in voyaging cultures. She has documented voyaging traditions of islanders in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Siberian Yupik Eskimos on the Alaskan and Russian sides of the Bering Straits. Her research voyages have included using ancient polar technology, and the early 19th century European technique of wintering-over in a sailboat frozen in the sea-ice of Antarctica. In the Vaka Taumako Project she studies Polynesian sailing, building vessels, and making voyages using ancient technology, materials, tools, and navigation methods. Dr. George made 25 inter-island voyages in the Santa Cruz Islands, and one voyage from Duffs through Vanuatu, either under the sailing directions of master navigator Te Aliki Kaviea, or with him on board.

Daisy Mahaina is an intern for Vaka Valo Association (VVA) in Honiara, Solomon Islands, working on assignments that involve communications, programs, and liaising with officials and community leaders. Mahaina completed a 2 year degree in business administration at Solomon Islands National University, and she has applied to begin a 4 year degree program in 2020. Mahaina has cultural knowledge of how to garden, raise children, weave various types of products including sails for the traditional voyaging canoe “Te Puke”, fish, care for the plants and animals, water, land, and other resources of her islands and her region. She has a good eye and knows how to tell a story, and is working towards becoming the primary videographer for VVA.

Kyle McDonald is an artist and technologist. His work takes a variety of forms including interactive installations, sneaky interventions, weird instruments, playful websites, workshops, and toolkits for other artists working with code. He loves exploring the possibilities of new technologies, understanding how they affect society, and building alternative futures with friends. He has been working with computer vision and machine learning for interaction for over a decade, and sailing since he was a kid.

Artist Website

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