Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Heterotic; the photobook as art object, artists' book, documentary archive, and haptic experience

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posted on 2023-09-11, 21:51 authored by Brogan, Lee-Ann

Based within the broadest discipline of 'Art Science' the project embraces contemporary eco art practices and is a continuation of environmental art projects within my professional art and design practice.​ The objective was to produce a prototype photobook in the narrative style that conveys a story through documentary photography, using sustainable and environmentally-sound materials.

The subject is the evolution of a novel ecosystem using rewilding and regenerative ​design on a 2 hectare (5 acre) block in Northland, New Zealand, which was originally clear-felled for sheep farming, then eventually completely enveloped in gorse and other invasive species.​ Ongoing extractive farming practices along with poor soil, relentless wind, low rainfall, isolation and the impenetrable nature of the invasive species had created an extremely formidable prospect and the land languished unsold on the market for two years.

A visual narrative using photography was chosen as the most suitable medium to illustrate the regenerative process. Extensive research was conducted into the wider photobook genre, looking for design and narrative precedents, and also intersections between the photobook, artists' book, documentary archive and haptic experience both nationally and internationally.

Research through design was then conducted to produce a prototype photobook titled wild seed, and an associated zine harvest, along with related handmade papers, an audio soundscape and short videos of iconic species featured in the photobook. These were all presented on a USB flash drive in digital format alongside the physical designed objects.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

229999 Other information and communication services not elsewhere classified; 130205 Visual communication; 130101 Design; 130103 The creative arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

3 Applied research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design Innovation


Maxey, Sarah; Shep, Sydney