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An image of the Amazon River from above

Amazon - Raised Up Sky

An Image Of Michael At Te Papa
This international collaboration between academics, scientists, and creatives from New Zealand and Brazil brings the Amazon to New Zealand’s doorstep in an epic 1:1 scale augmented reality experience.  

Created by Joseph Michael, the artwork utilises multispectral and hyperspectral mapping techniques to scan individual trees and draws on conversations with scientists and indigenous leaders in Brazil and New Zealand to develop the content of the experience. These conversations are shared in the accompanying documentary and showcase cultural and environmental commonalities between New Zealand and Brazil. 

The realization of this project during COVID times highlights the importance of cross-cultural exchange and the need to build strong ties across borders so we can work together effectively in periods of crisis and change. Amazon – Raised Up Sky delivers a high-level example of what is possible when New Zealand and Latin American academics, scientists, and creative partners work together. A national keynote tour of 11 centres around New Zealand between November 2020 and February 2021 presented the project to an audience of 1,500.

You can watch the documentary online



Check out a clip of Augmented Reality (AR) in action:

More information about the project can be found here. 

Philip Tremewan – Director – Festival of colour, Wanaka:

“Amazon – Raised Up Sky was equal parts fascinating, beautiful and thought-provoking. Joseph discussed both the technical and artistic aspects of what he does, and our audience left with new insights into his work, as well as into the issues that inform it, like climate change. We loved experimenting with the Augmented Reality gear too!”

Cathy Buntting – Director – Science learning Hub, Waikato University:

“Wow! Wow! Wow!

Friday’s session with Joseph Michael was inspiring! I was so impressed – by him, by the project, by the ways in which this project has potential to help New Zealanders engage with the Amazon in such a brilliant new way! My 11 year old was with me, and he thought it was “epic”.

I was incredibly impressed by the documentary, and all that Joseph and his team have been able to achieve in spite of COVID. It’s really a terrific initiative.”

Rachel Cooper – Programmes and Events Manager, Otago Museum:

“From a public programmes and events perspective, I’ve been present at hundreds of public talks over the years. Joe’s presentation was by far one of the most engaging and visually interactive public talks I’ve had the privilege of being present at. His passion for our world is evident, his images are spectacular. Joe is an exceptional communicator and we’d certainly welcome him back for any future collaborations or events.”

Martine Tait – Ashburton Art Gallery:

“We really enjoyed hosting Joseph’s talk at the Gallery. The projects are remarkable and I hope you do more of these nationwide tours in the future. Our visitors had never used augmented reality and I think most of them found it to be a thrilling experience of discovery. The event appealed to a wide range of our local audience including children and young adults. Amazon – Raised Up Sky was a moving and eye-opening event. Joseph Michael has the natural ability of sharing and speaking to his work in a humble and inclusive manner. These projects not only magnify, but honour the mana of these living ancestors.”

What’s next?

Using the repository of scans of Amazonian trees, Joseph Michael is now developing an educational tool that uses simple yet captivating animations to reveal the scientific processes inside a tree.

This educational tool will take the form of an interactive webpage with animations which will be scroll-triggered, beginning with a view from above the canopy before descending into the forest to look at the tree, then down into the roots, before travelling into the tree trunk. The animation will illustrate the mycelium, the nutrient exchange with the fungus, flows of water and carbon and other elements of photosynthesis.

As an accessible, interactive online resource, this project turns the ‘art meets science’ ethos of Amazon – Raised Up Sky to the space of science teaching and learning, where there is an expressed need for 3D visual representations to deepen engagement and impact.