Presenting visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces.

Geometric Enlightenment: Insight on New Zealand Artist Shannon Novak

By Monica Hunasikatti


“Odic Time Piece Detail VII,” 2011.  Photo courtesy of artist.



1.the branch of mathematics concerned with the properties and relations of points, lines, surfaces, solids, and higher dimensional analogs.

Geometry hasn’t been a subject on my mind since about tenth grade. Lines, triangles, points on a plane didn’t occur to me to be something intricate or useful; I definitely didn’t think of them as something jolly, exciting, or inspiring. Shannon Novak, a New Zealand artist’s artwork not only challenged my views, but showed me an entire landscape of new possibilities involving the world of shapes and dimensions, and how we interact with them. Novak works with geometric shapes and everyday objects–for example a piano or a building–to create his own vision of what he sees. I had the amazing opportunity to interview Mr. Novak via email so please do enjoy!

With one word, how would you describe your work? 



“Symphonic Lineage Detail III,” 2011. Photo courtesy of artist.

I’ve seen some of your work and it’s really different from a lot of art pieces that I’ve seen.  What draws you to geometric formations? 

I believe it is basic instinct. As early as I can remember I used to draw everyday objects as geometric forms. In primary school we were asked to go outside and draw what we saw, my fellow classmates returning with drawings of trees, flowers, and birds. I returned with a grid of triangular forms – my interpretation of a tree. It wasn’t until later on in life I realized it might be something like synesthesia or a mixing of the senses.

What inspires you? 

The past, the present, the future – everything, and anything. I often say “music is in everything” and live this through my work, creating audiovisual compositions for objects, people, and locations.

What was it like working in the festival? 

It was an incredible experience I will always remember. It was my first time to New York and to a city that size, so had no idea what I was getting into. On arrival I was overwhelmed by the sheer energy of the city, and how that energy was a constant force day and night. After a few days I got into the rhythm of the city and 14th Street in particular, and began to see how important the festival was in activating public space beyond the borders of regulation. The festival team were incredibly supportive and I couldn’t have done it without them.

Pastorale from Shannon Novak on Vimeo.  “Pastorale,” and “augmented reality intervention revealed using a mobile device” was installed by Shannon in Sheep Meadow of Central Park during his time in the AiOP 2013 festival.  This video was taken and edited by the artist himself.

Did you meet any other artists from your time in NYC? 

I enjoyed meeting other artists in the festival and exchanging ideas. I also had the opportunity to attend artist talks.

Are there common mindsets in the art community that sometimes frustrate you?  How would do you deal with that? 

There are mindsets – too many to mention, but I don’t think they are a bad thing. In fact, they often inspire and push me to think of new ways to create work.

What are some of your plans for the future? 

I plan to continue building on what I presented during the festival, looking at new ways to peacefully intervene in public space. In doing so I will be exploring intersections between reality, virtual reality, and augmented reality.


“Semitone Shift Detail VII,” 2011. Photo courtesy of artist.

Be sure to check out Shannon Novak’s website and keep a look out for any new art he puts out!

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