The Green Bench took part in the electrosmog festival of sustaianable immobility. http://electrosmogfestival.net

The electrosmog festival is an international media arts festival where all the participants stay in their home town.

As part of the deep local session we set out onto the Whanganui river to present to the conference - 10am - 12pm in Europe/10pm-12am in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Technical Setup

We paddled in 2 x 6 seat fiberglass waka ama (out rigger canoes) each with 2 paddlers and a steerer on board.

On board one we had a pair of rather oversized deep cycle 6V lead acid batteries (390 Ah).

3 x flourescent lights

12" Powerbook G4

Thinkpad X300 with built in 640x480 web cam and 802.11a/b/g wireless card running xubuntu 9.10

DSLR Camera

We paddled into the center of Whanganui from Putiki where we could get access to a small wireless mesh network running http://open-mesh.com that is part of http://wha.net.nz.

From there we could get a connection and skyped in to De Balie.

While the wireless network performed well and our video test within New Zealand with Zita Joyce was succesful, the international connection was poor and after a brief period of video, we resorted to voice only skype connection to the festival.

Another issue was that we left the headset on the boat ramp so we had to make do with the laptop internal mike which caused some feedback.

When we got to withing reach of the network, we strapped the 2 waka ama together to make a stable platform, with 2 central hulls and 2 ama - effectivley a tri-maran.

We paddled out of the stream near to one of the banks and held on the mud.

All electrical gear was packed in dry bags for the paddling section of the trip and luckily we had no rain.


Milke Poa opened the performance with a karakia to open the korero accompanied by Jonah Marinovich on Pootataro (konch). This was recorded by De Balie and hopefully streamed back to the festival later. The discussion then began with Julian Priest and Eric Kluitenberg on aspects of the situation of the discussion.

We talked about the contrast between the wireless technical implementation and the mode of transport. We also discussed the experience of http://greenbench.org/project/slowflow and the contrast between the non-connected areas up the Whanganui river in the bush, where no connection is possible (without satellite phones) and the city siutation of the performance.

We commented that being disconnected takes planning, and also a strong intention to do so.

We ended discussing the possibilities for exploring the relationship between waka culture and information technology.


Many thanks to the crew for paddling in the middle of the night.

  • Mike Poa
  • Jonah Marinovich
  • Don Hunter
  • Te Wainuiarua Poa
  • Julian Priest
  • Sue James

Thanks also to Don for photgraphing, and Zita Joyce for video testing as well as the Electrosmog tech crew.


Julian Priest with network difficulties

Succesful Video Test with Zita Joyce in Christchurch

Jonah Marinovich and Mike Poa

Julian Priest, Sue James and Te Wainuiarua Poa

Sue James and Te Wainuiarua Poa

Te Wainuiarua Poa

Don Hunter

Jonah Marinovich