Roma Anderson

Roma Anderson  is a Pākehā artist who explores the ecological vulnerability of Aotearoa’s waterways in contemporary society. She is an analogue and digital alternative method artist, her practice encompasses photography, moving-image, 3D-modelling and augmented-reality. Anderson works exclusively with the Tāmaki River and its culverts, streams and estuaries, documenting the sites photographically; producing polaroid and film photographs.

The Tāmaki River is an estuarial arm and harbour of the Hauraki Gulf, in Auckland, New Zealand. The waterway was originally known as Te Wai o Taiki, meaning “The Waters of Taiki”. Taiki is an abbreviation of Taikehu, who was an ancestor of Ngāi Tai, the Māori tribe which occupied some areas along the Hauraki Gulf. The river extends south of the gulf for 15 kilometres, branching off into smaller creeks.

In her moving-image practice, Anderson utilises algorithms that deconstruct the pixels of her photographs, joining them together in new abstract and confronting works that protest the marginalisation of the waterway. She aims to provide a space where the river can have a voice and be heard as an equal, creating striking imagery that writhes across the screen and cannot be ignored. 

Recently, Anderson has employed photogrammetry to generate three-dimensional forms from polaroid photographs. Photogrammetry uses photography to measure distance, and Anderson uses this to generate new “organisms” from sections of photographic data.

Anderson was part of the Nomadic Art Gallery's digital exhibition "Alienation". Contextualisation of her work within the exhibition theme:

"Avicennia is the project which all of the source polaroids and their digital prints and 3D models originate from. 

Avicennia is a subspecies of mangrove that is native to the North Island of Aotearoa; densely populating many of Tāmaki Makaurau’s estuaries and rivers. Mangroves reproduce sexually or hermaphroditically, producing miniature trees that can carry their parent’s genes significant distances before colonising new environs. Avicennia places the biological reproduction of mangroves alongside an autobiographical account of fertility and the artistic act of creating new forms. Reproduction is explored alongside the generative processes present in computational and algorithmic practice.


Film photography is employed as a spiritual and environmentally sensitive medium, capable of recording ephemera and thought as well as space and time. Polaroids taken in the waters of Tāmaki Bay act as source material; scanned and translated into strands of data. Photogrammetry constructs measurements of distance from values of light and dark. Each photograph is processed and transformed into a three-dimensional representation of the mangrove it depicts, generating two forms; Spores (spherical extrusions) and Roots (cylindrical extrusions).

I see these forms as live organisms with their own agency, equivalent to their parent material, but also independent entities. The photographic series takes on new biological and maternal connotations, with images from the same origin producing expressing similar characteristics. From polaroid images as a source material, fractal and computational patterns emerge, with each iteration retaining a distinctly organic form.

Avicennia aims to create an alternative space for the viewer to engage with other entities. Acrylic prints juxtapose the forms against the pattern they were generated from. Smaller prints display the complexity of the patterns independently. Photobooks place the forms alongside their source patterns in series. Each of the three augmented-reality applications represents a consecutive stage in the processing of the same series of images. Seed, grows into Sprout and culminates in Shrub, each with their own networks of root and spore organisms; immersing the viewer in a hybrid space between the analogue, digital, organic and real."

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