Bronwyn Holloway-Smith is an artist and arts advocate based in Wellington, New Zealand, interested in “internet culture, 3-dimensional printing, open source art, and space colonisation.”
In 2009, Bronwyn produced ‘Ghosts in the Form of Gifts,’ a permanent installation at Massey University, which won the 2010 Award for Open Source in the Arts. The installation presents replicas of artefacts imagined as “lost, hidden or misregistered” from the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. The objects were made using an Open Source 3-dimensional printer, known as the ‘RepRap.’ The digital files were licensed as Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike, and were made available for download on her website.
Bronwyn also uploaded the files to Thingiverse, an online repository for digital design. Within a month, someone from Chicago’s ‘What It Is’ gallery had been in touch. Without the usual fuss of shipping and handling, the gallery had printed an object for inclusion in their 2012 show, ‘Improbable Objects’—all without Bronwyn having to leave Wellington.
As she puts it, “Using Creative Commons licences has opened up new opportunities for connecting with and engaging audiences and getting my work seen around the world… Traditional copyright can be a brick-wall that discourages people from engaging.” She points out that while New Zealand is geographically isolated, CC licences can link artists to international communities.
Like Luke Rowell of Disasteradio, Bronwyn believes that more exciting uses of Creative Commons in the arts have yet to be discovered. As she says, “I’m really interested in the new potential it represents. Its potential in the arts hasn’t been fully realized.” Bronwyn points out that Creative Commons licences are still relatively new. She describes her projects as “experiments,” with the licences a way of “allowing others to discover new exciting uses for creative works that I can’t predict.”
Her 2011 project ‘Pioneer City,’ which imagines future real estate opportunities on Mars, was recently re-imagined by the kids in Room 11 at Lyall Bay School, after reading an article on the project in local newspaper the Wellingtonian.
For the recent exhibition “The Obstinate Object: Contemporary New Zealand Sculpture,”at Wellington’s City Gallery, Bronwyn returned to 3D printing, developing a new work titled “Whisper Down The Lane”. For this piece, she collaborated with designers Ant Pelosi and Nick Graham, using Autodesk 123D Catch and Xbox Kinect programme ReconstructMe to make digital files of other works exhibited in the gallery, releasing the files for free download on Thingiverse and creating miniature 3D prints of the works with the RepRap. For this project, she chose a BY-NC-SA licence as using a non-commercial licence “helped keep the other artists comfortable with the project.”
In 2008, Bronwyn co-founded the Creative Freedom Foundation (CFF), a non-profit organisation that represents over ten thousand New Zealand artists. The CFF works with government officials and politicians to ensure that New Zealand artists have a voice in discussions over New Zealand’s intellectual property legislation. As Bronwyn points out, “many New Zealand artists rely on the internet… Any changes to legislation may mean a huge deal to these artists.”
While using Creative Commons licences primarily allow her work to be reused and remixed, it also introduces issues of copyright and digital technology to artists and arts audiences. “Creative Commons starts a conversation about intellectual property, which can be really useful.” Referring to artists like Marcel Duchamp, Bronwyn explains that “Art is not an island, operating independently of what’s been made in the past. Remix, appropriation, parody: these techniques have been used in art for centuries. We’re always building on works we’ve had access to.”