the city of gold and lead

I was six years old when the Computer came into use. Ann Shelton would have been nine. Even as children, I think it’s fair to say that The Wanganui Computer loomed large in our collective imaginations. Indeed, growing up in Auckland, I think the Computer was all I really knew about Whanganui in those childhood years, which only enhanced its mystique.

The fact that The Wanganui Computer housed criminal records allowed it a place in our young imaginations. Never mind that it also held details of drivers’ licences, or the fact that criminal records would of course have been kept prior to its advent. There was just something about the mysterious ‘computer-ness’ of those records that instilled a frisson of fear and excitement in young minds. The notion that, once your details were stored there, it was game over. In our own juvenile way, we tapped into this in the schoolyard, equating disobedience with data entry. The logic went that if you did something bad, it wasn’t out of the question that you’d end up on the System.

And what then?

Kyla McFarlane

Installation view, Sarjeant Gallery, 2013.
Installation view, Sarjeant Gallery, 2013.
Installation view, Sarjeant Gallery, 2013.
Installation view, Sarjeant Gallery, 2013.
Anniversary, “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” Neil Roberts 1982. Eight pigment prints, 755 x 604 mm each, 2013.
Anniversary, “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” Neil Roberts 1982, (detail).
Anniversary, “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” Neil Roberts 1982, (detail).
Anniversary, “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” Neil Roberts 1982, (detail).
Anniversary, “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” Neil Roberts 1982, (detail).
Anniversary, “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” Neil Roberts 1982, (detail).
Anniversary, “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” Neil Roberts 1982, (detail).
Anniversary, “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” Neil Roberts 1982, (detail).
Anniversary, “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” Neil Roberts 1982, (detail).
Punch Cards, computer coding cards from the decommissioned Wanganui Computer. Pigment print, 1135 x 1170 mm, 2013
Heavy Metal #1, Platinum, recovered scrap metal from the remains of the decommissioned Wanganui Computer. Pigment print, 1535 x 1115 mm, 2013
Heavy Metal #2, Palladium, recovered scrap metal from the remains of the decommissioned Wanganui Computer. Pigment print, 1535 x 1115 mm, 2013
Heavy Metal #3, Palladium, recovered scrap metal from the remains of the decommissioned Wanganui Computer. Pigment print, 1535 x 1115 mm, 2013
Heavy Metal #4, Palladium, recovered scrap metal from the remains of the decommissioned Wanganui Computer. Pigment print, 1535 x 1115 mm, 2013
Blue Boy, computer part from the Wanganui Computer. Pigment print. 230 x 300 mm, 2013
Big Brother, computer disc from the decommissioned Wanganui Computer. Disc 204 mm x 204 mm, (front). Pigment print, 945 x 1350 mm, 2013.
Big Brother, computer disc from the decommissioned Wanganui Computer. Disc 204 mm x 204 mm, (reverse). Pigment print, 945 x 1350 mm, 2013.
Little Brother, computer disc from the decommissioned Wanganui Computer. Disc 133 mm x 133 mm, (front). Pigment print, 945 x 1350 mm, 2013.
Little Brother, computer disc from the decommissioned Wanganui Computer. Disc 133 mm x 133 mm, (Reverse). Pigment print, 945 x 1350 mm, 2013.