Shannon Novak


Auckland based artist Shannon Novak posits that "music is in everything". He creates compositions for objects, locations, and people much as musicians might compose for/about places, persons, or experiences with emotional resonance for them. Trained initially as a pianist, his practice encompasses painting, sculpture, and installation, with a focus on using geometric forms to explore and render his understanding of the interrelationships between sound, colour, form, time, space, and social context.

Novak’s compositions have continued to evolve over time. From painting on canvas, to site-responsive large-scale installations using translucent vinyl to, most recently, the use of augmented reality (AR), a digital media form that allows the experience of an embellished version of one’s environment through the digital dimension of a smartphone or tablet using a specially designed app. Novak is at the forefront of international exploration in this area, illuminating the wide range of art possibilities this new technology affords. These recent developments fit within Novak’s larger project, that is, as curator Stephen Cleland states, the ‘teasing out of [the] multifaceted notions of augmentation’ in both its physical and virtual forms.

Novak’s installations and exhibitions have been seen in national and international institutions, festivals, and public spaces, including the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (Auckland, New Zealand); Dunedin Public Art Gallery (Dunedin, New Zealand); McKinney Avenue Contemporary (Dallas, Texas, USA); Ningbo Museum of Art (Ningbo, China); and Georgia Museum of Art (Athens, Georgia, USA). Born in New Plymouth in 1979, Novak graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Applied Information Systems from the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki, New Plymouth (New Zealand), and later gained a Master of Education (Hons) from Massey University, Palmerston North (New Zealand) in 2009. He then graduated MFA (Hons) from the University of Auckland (New Zealand) in 2014. Novak has completed a number of artist residencies including a residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (New Smyrna Beach, Florida, USA) in 2016, and has been engaged in public commissions in Auckland (New Zealand), New Plymouth (New Zealand), and Denver (Colorado, USA). He was the 2017 winner of the prestigious Kaipara Foundation Award at the Wallace Trust Awards which consists of a three month residency in Switzerland.