Citywalk, Jack Body

Story by Kirsty de Jong

Museum and Heritage Studies, 2017

About Wellington and for Wellington

Citywalk is an interactive photography and sound installation by Jack Body commissioned in 1989 by the Wellington City Art Gallery. Citywalk consists of 14 images of people moving through the Wellington cityscape. Body captures fleeting moments with isolated figures seemingly randomly passing through familiar city scenes.

  • <p>Jack Body (1944 – 2015), Citywalk, 1989, Kodak Vericolor photographic prints, Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection, gift of the artist 2014.</p>
  • <p>Jack Body. Photo by Debbie Rawson, courtesy of Victoria University of Wellington</p>

About the Art Work

To create the installation, Body had the photographs projected onto the walls of the gallery. They are shot with Kodak Vericolor slide film which produces colour negatives that can be viewed through a projector. Their bluish hue and blurry quality seem other-worldly but are characteristic of this type of film.

David Crossan designed a kinaesthetically responsive electronic system to animate the projections as viewers moved through the space. To create a three-dimensional effect, wireless headphones supplied to each viewer played a soundtrack of noises common to city life. Each visitor’s experience was unique and created a microcosm of what Body called the ‘mindspace’ of the city: people’s innermost thoughts that remain undisclosed, despite the shared experience of walking through the city.

Body gifted Citywalk to the University’s art collection towards the end of his life, enabling the work to remain in Wellington. The photographs now hang in two of Victoria’s campuses: 11 outside his old office in the New Zealand School of Music at Kelburn and three in the Faculty of Architecture and Design at the Te Aro Campus.

About the Artist

Jack Body (1944–2015) was a New Zealand composer, ethnomusicologist, lecturer and multi-media artist who made an immense contribution to New Zealand art, music and academia. His prolific creative output spanned over forty years and was heavily influenced by the cultural and musical traditions he encountered while travelling and on professional secondments in Asia.

Body wrote 116 orchestral, chamber, vocal, solo, electronic and Eastern instrumental works, as well as directing or featuring as the guest composer at many international music festivals and conferences. He was a champion of music and musicians from the Asia-Pacific region and during his twenty-nine-year tenure as a lecturer at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music at Victoria University of Wellington he helped to establish a new musical paradigm in this country.

Body was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music, education and photography in 2001; he received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2004 and the Arts Icon Award in 2015—the first composer ever to achieve this award. His life and work has been documented in the book Jack! Celebrating Jack Body, Composer.

Where is Citywalk?

Kelburn, Wellington 6012, New Zealand