Born 1979, New Plymouth, New Zealand

Lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand

New Zealand artist Shannon Novak works with sound and explores contemporary gay issues. 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. He also examines the ways in which the plurality and tensions of gay desire muddy and morph geometrical purity and idealism.

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).

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 Altes Spital (Solothurn, Switzerland) in 2018, and has been engaged in public commissions in Auckland (New Zealand), New Plymouth (New Zealand), and Denver (Colorado, USA).


2014: Master of Fine Arts (Hons), Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

2009: Master of Education (Hons), Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

2001: Bachelor of Applied Information Systems, Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki, New Plymouth, New Zealand

Selected exhibitions


Geometry of Thought, Pah Homestead, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

Sub Rosa, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand (installation)

Modern People, New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (group)

Headland Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island, New Zealand (group)

17 Years, Anderson Rhodes Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand (solo)


Wisteria, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, New Zealand (installation)

Flight of the Magnolia, Te Tuhi, Auckland, New Zealand (two-person installation with Jeff Nusz)

Unbounded, RAMP Gallery, Hamilton, New Zealand (solo)

Katherine Mansfield: A Portrait, New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (group)

Conversion/Konvertieren, Altes Spital and Konzertsaal, Solothurn, Switzerland (solo)

Gordon, part of The Expanded Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand (installation)

Bound, Britomart, Auckland, New Zealand (installation)

Nexus, Pataka (central work) and various public spaces (satellite works), Wellington, New Zealand (installation)

Counter Narratives, Wellington Waterfront, Wellington, New Zealand (group)


Intervals, various locations in Central Park, Manhattan, New York, USA (installation)

Summer Show, Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

Pictures at an Exhibition, various locations in Wellington, New Zealand, including; Peter McLeavey Gallery, Michael Fowler Centre, and the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul (installation)

The Expanded Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery (central work) and various public spaces (satellite works), Dunedin, New Zealand (installation)

Greedy Algorithms, AfterMath Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand (group)

Bicinium, various locations onsite, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Banff, Alberta, Canada (two-person installation with Amy Brandon)

Headland Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island, New Zealand (group)


Leitmotif, New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (solo)

Garden Centennial, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, Pelham Bay Park, New York, USA (group)

In the Country, MilkBar, Cotati, California, USA (group)

Soft Architecture, Malcolm Smith Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

Counterpoint, Joan James Harris Theatre, Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, USA (installation)

Cloaked Interludes, Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, New Mexico, USA (installation)

The Wall, Hurley Convergence Center, The University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA (group)

Certainly Very Merry, Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

The Digital Pulse, The Great Wall of Oakland, Oakland, California, USA (group)


Deep Concinnity, Te Tuhi, Auckland, New Zealand (installation)

Chrysalis Lens: A Brief Survey of Contemporary Video Art, Marylyn and Chuck Klaus Center for the Arts, Marymount California University, Los Angeles, California, USA (group)

Art and Science, Ann Street Gallery, Newburgh, New York, USA (group)

Data Body as Artifact, Fukuoka International Congress Center, Fukuoka, Japan (group)

Disruption, Simon Fraser University, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Vancouver, Canada (group)

Solid Colour: Part I, Trish Clark Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

Space/Cosmos, Pehrspace, Los Angeles, California, USA (group)

Slingshot, West Gallery, Lyndon House Arts Center, Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia, USA (group) 

Headland Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island, New Zealand (group)



Cryptocosmos, Te Uru, Auckland, New Zealand (installation)

Activating Te Uru, Te Uru, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

Six of One, 30 Upstairs, Wellington, New Zealand (group)

Refractor, Pehrspace, Los Angeles, California, USA (group)

The Artifacts, Building 403, Governors Island, New York, USA (group)

Organised Play, Audio Foundation, Auckland, New Zealand (solo)

Phantom City, Rotorua Museum, Rotorua, New Zealand (group)

A Short Crisp Sound: Futures Trading Co. (central work) and various public spaces (satellite works), Wellington, New Zealand (solo)

Synthetic Zero, BronxArtSpace, Bronx, New York, USA (group)

Rubato: Museum of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, BIH; Roman Petrovic, Sarajevo, BIH; Collegium Artisticum, Sarajevo, BIH (installation)

Sight Reading, part of Freedom Farmers: New Zealand Artists Growing Ideas, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand (installation)

Be the Light of My Lantern, George Fraser Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (group)


Freedom Farmers: New Zealand Artists Growing Ideas, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

Pastorale, Sheep Meadow, Central Park, Manhattan, New York, USA (installation)

Art in Odd Places: Number, Manhattan, New York, USA (group)

Dazibao, (touring exhibition) Organhaus, Chongqing, China; and Ningbo Museum of Art, Ningbo, China (group)

Score Generators, Aotea Centre, Auckland, New Zealand (solo)

Delegate, Ilam Campus Gallery, The University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand (group)

Reorchestrated Space, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Canberra, Australia (installation)

A Garden for Orpheus, George Fraser Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (solo)

Tonnetz, The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas, Texas, USA (installation)


Sound Response at West, West, NICAI Student Centre, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand (solo)

Call/Reply, Pierre Peeters Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (solo)

Augmented Chords, White Hart, New Plymouth, New Zealand (solo)

Merge, Plus Gallery, Denver, Colorado, USA (group)

Quietly Confident, Ilam Campus Gallery, The University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand (group)

Sonic Brew, Audio Foundation, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

Shape It, Pah Homestead, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

Acoustic Synergy, Ro2 Art Downtown, Dallas, Texas, USA (solo)

Tone Connections, Pah Homestead (central work) Auckland, New Zealand, and various public spaces (satellite works) including; the Mondrian Building, Elam School of Fine Arts, NICAI, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand; the Massey University Albany Library, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand; and the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand (solo)


One Song, Three Composers: CentralTrak (central work) Dallas, Texas, USA, and various public spaces (satellite works) including; the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art, Dallas, Texas, USA; the Longview Museum of Fine Arts, Longview, Texas, USA; and the Museum of East Texas, Lufkin, Texas, USA (solo)

Peaking the Edge, Plus Gallery, Denver, Colorado, USA (group)

Line Colour Form, Pierre Peeters Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

Rhythm Section, Queenstown Lakes District Council Building, Queenstown, New Zealand (installation)

Semitone Shift, Pierre Peeters Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (solo)


Relative Major and Minor Triads, NeoGallery, Brisbane, Australia (solo)

The Four Dimensions of a Note, Satellite Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (solo)

Selected commissions


Symphony, Britomart, Auckland, New Zealand


Chromatic Scale, Pah Homestead, Auckland, New Zealand

Notation -36.846269, 174.769166, Walker Wayland Centre, Auckland, New Zealand


Modulation, Courtenay Place Park, Wellington, New Zealand

Rhapsody, Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand


Listening Forms, NZME Building, Auckland, New Zealand


Con Sordina, Downtown Denver LED Screen, 14th and Arapahoe, Denver, Colorado, USA


Screen Harmonics, Sir Paul Reeves Building, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand

String Section, Faculty of Arts, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Harmonic Stream, Sandringham Village, Auckland, New Zealand


Notation -36.861798,174.769089, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Phonetic Apparition, Western Park, Auckland, New Zealand


Odic Time Piece, New Plymouth Clock Tower, New Plymouth, New Zealand

Winged Crescendo, Gallery Exterior, Plus Gallery, Denver, Colorado, USA

Melodic Flourish, Britomart, Auckland, New Zealand

Residencies and awards


Kaipara Foundation Wallace Arts Trust Award


Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, USA


SCANZ Residency, New Plymouth, New Zealand


CentralTrak, The University of Texas at Dallas Artists Residency, Dallas, Texas, USA


ANZ Collection, Auckland, New Zealand

Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand

Dunedin Public Art Gallery Collection, Dunedin, New Zealand

Hocken Collections, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

J. Conrad Dunagan Library Special Collections, University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, Texas, USA

Museum of Geometric and MADI Art Collection, Dallas, Texas, USA

New Zealand Portrait Gallery Collection, Wellington, New Zealand

PricewaterhouseCoopers Collection, Auckland, New Zealand

Roswell Museum and Art Center Collection, Roswell, New Mexico, USA

The University of Auckland Art Collection, Auckland, New Zealand

The University of Waikato Art Collection, Hamilton, New Zealand

Wallace Arts Trust Collection, Auckland, New Zealand

Westpac New Zealand Collection, Auckland, New Zealand

Selected bibliography


Boladera, S. (2019, March 7). Torea windows get bedazzled. Gulf News.

McIlraith, B. (2019, April 13). Small town New Zealand still generations away from full acceptance of rainbow community. Stuff.

McWhannell, F. (2019, April 11). Sex in the gallery: Shannon Novak’s Sub Rosa. The Pantograph Punch.

Mitchell, S. (2019, January 10). Exhibition looks at what is was like to be a closeted gay teen in Taranaki in the 90’s. Stuff.


Arni-Howald, K. (2018, April 12). Solothurn Cathedral has inspired a New Zealand artist. Solothurner Zeitung.

Daly-Peoples, J. (2018, August 16). Wallace Award winner shows in Switzerland. The National Business Review.

Dornauf, P. (2018, October 19). Novak at Ramp. EyeContact.

Landingin, M. Y. (2018, February 8). Save our gallery: Art and people power. Tearaway.

Minissale, G. (2018). Topological diagrams. Drain, 15(1).

Morris, C. (2018, March 3). Digital sculpture at gallery. Otago Daily Times.

Stanhope, Z. (2018). Home truths: The politics of debility in recent projects by Shannon Novak. Art New Zealand, 168, 66-69.

Starrenburg, D. (2018). Installation art. Geometry, 3, 30-38.

Van Velthooven, E. (Producer). (2018, February 2). Britomart’s snappy makeover in celebration of pride month. Television broadcast. New Zealand: TVNZ 1.

White, M. (2018). Art galleries go digital. Art News New Zealand, 38(2), 88-91.


Evans, K. (2017). Are your Saturdays yellow? North & South, 373, 66-73.

Fox, R. (2017, April 6). Art - but not as you know it. Otago Daily Times.

Sanders, N. (2017). A Visual Feast. Mindfood, 75-77.

Stocker, M., & McCarthy, C. (Eds). (2017). Colonial Gothic to Maori Renaissance: Essays in memory of Jonathan Mane-Wheoki. Victoria University Press. Cover.

Wolfe, R. (2017). Without whom. Art New Zealand, 163, 110-112.


Cytowic, R. E. (2016). Art on the synesthetic spectrum. Exhibition essay.

Kedgley, H. (2016). Leitmotif. Exhibition catalogue.

Kim, H. (Producer). (2016, June 26). Sensory education: the key to creativity. Television broadcast. South Korea: Educational Broadcasting System (EBS).

Portraits need not always be figurative. (2016). Art News New Zealand36(3), 119.

Shingade, B. (2016). Soft Architecture. Exhibition catalogue.

Shingade, B., & Johnson, E. (2016). Shannon Novak: Listening Forms. Essay.

Stephenson, S. (2016). Click bait. North & South, 369, 32.

Wilkinson, J. (2016, February 21). Jazzy new look for ANZ bank by a New Plymouth artist. Taranaki Daily News.


Abbott, D. (2015). Outdoor pursuits: summer sculpture on the Hauraki Gulf. Art New Zealand, 153, 56-59.

Armstrong, K. (2015). String Section. Art and Disruption, 94.

Gregory, J. (Presenter). (2015, 9 August). Cryptocosmos. Radio broadcast. Auckland: Radio New Zealand.

Hurrell, J. (2015, August 11). Echoing colour and more. EyeContact.

Hurrell, J. (2015, October 1). Novak wall drawings. EyeContact.

McAvoy, E. (2015). Augmenting architecture: Shannon Novak's Cryptocosmos. Exhibition essay.

Pastorale. (2015). Issues in Science and Technology, 32(1), 96.

Walsh, K. (2015, April 2). The art of illusion. The Gisborne Herald.

Wood, A. P. (2015). Analogue sourcecode. Exhibition essay.


Benson, T. (2014). Visibility, sound, and presence. Manhattan Phrase 40.74279,-74.008981 to 40.728411,-73.975679 (pp. 41-43).

Cleland, S. (2014). So close...yet: Shannon Novak and New Zealand's augmented modernism. Manhattan Phrase 40.74279,-74.008981 to 40.728411,-73.975679 (pp. 15-20).

Gardiner, S. (2014). Artists on the edge of an epiphany. Art News New Zealand, 34(3), 98-103.

Gimblett, M., Jones, M., & Novak, S. (2014). Space of being. Manhattan Phrase 40.74279,-74.008981 to 40.728411,-73.975679 (pp. 29-33).

Gwilt, I. (2014). Augmented reality graffiti and street art. Augmented Reality Art: From an Emerging Technology to a Novel Creative Medium (pp. 189-198).

Gwilt, I. (2014). Creatively augmenting the urban experience. Manhattan Phrase 40.74279,-74.008981 to 40.728411,-73.975679 (pp. 35-38).

Minissale, G. (2014). Revealing freedom: Contemporary New Zealand art at Auckland Art Gallery. Art New Zealand, 149, 44-48.

Reid, M. (2014). Inside / outside: Shannon Novak and the legacy of Anthony Caro. Manhattan Phrase 40.74279,-74.008981 to 40.728411,-73.975679 (pp. 23-27).

Subramaniam, R. (2014). Remote sensing: from New Zealand to New York. Manhattan Phrase 40.74279,-74.008981 to 40.728411,-73.975679 (pp. 11-12).

Woo, Y. J. (2014). Para: An Anthology on Art and Parasitism. Exhibition catalogue.


Conland, N. (2013). Freedom Farmers: New Zealand Artists Growing Ideas. Exhibition catalogue.

Gardiner, S. (2013). Art in the age of vertigo. Art News New Zealand, 33(2), 98-104.

Georgiou, D. (2013). Have you listened to this doorknob today? Exhibition essay.

Hurrell, J. (2013, August 27). Eight Elam graduates. EyeContact.

Ikram, A. (Producer). (2013, June 25). Invisible art shows augmented reality. Television broadcast. New Zealand: 3 News.

Notions of freedom in question. (2013). Art News New Zealand, 33(4), 42.

Novak, S. (2013). Site Weave: Revealing interconnections through music. Proceedings of the 9th ACM Conference on Creativity & Cognition, 418-419.

Rieser, M. (2013). Shannon Novak and Tonnetz. Exhibition essay.

Shaikh, T. (2013, September 25). Hear and see artwork: use your mobile. Auckland City Harbour News

Stephens, T. (2013, November 3). Brighten city's image. Taranaki Daily News, 13.


Button, J. (2012). States of consciousness: Synesthetic responses in the works of Shannon Novak. One Song, Three Composers (pp. 32-35).

Button, J., Fontenot, H., Smither, S., Merrick, R., Regalado, L., Preston, A., Nichols, A., Sutherlin, S. (2012). One Song, Three Composers.

Clifford, A. (2012). String theory. Exhibition essay. 

Hamilton, B. (2012). Shannon Novak: Acoustic Synergy. Exhibition essay.

Majzoub, M. (2012), Optical crescendo: Shannon Novak's visually compelling opus. RAGMAG, 26-29.

Merrick, R. (2012). Of music and mind. One Song, Three Composers (pp. 26-29).

Novak, S. (2012). Exhibiting sound across space, time, and culture. World Art, 2(2), 241-249.

Smither, M. (2012). The enigma of arrival. One Song, Three Composers (pp. 16-17).


Beech, J. (2011, October 24). JazzFest plays on. Queenstown Times (front page).

In praise of patrons. (2011). Art News New Zealand, 31(4), 32.

Lilly, C. (2011, December 6). CentralTrak artist's exhibit maps sound to image. The University of Texas at Dallas News Center.

Melodic Flourish at Britomart. (2011). Architecture New Zealand, 4, 18.

Roy, S. (2011, June 27). The shape of sound: Shannon Novak. Spike Magazine.

Saunders, K. (2011, August 6). Like time, this colourful artwork will be fleeting. Taranaki Daily News.

Speaking of sound. (2011). Art News New Zealand, 31(1), 121.

Withers, A. (2011, November 2). New art exhibit in Deep Ellum explores color, sound. The Daily Campus.

Selected lectures, presentations, and performances


Painting Politics Symposium, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand (presentation)


Limb II, Pataka, Wellington, New Zealand (performance)


Vessel LVII, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand (performance)



Leitmotif, New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (presentation)


Augmented Reality Interventions in Urban Space, Parsons The New School for Design, Manhattan, New York, USA (lecture)

The Musicality of Everyday Objects and Locations, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand (presentation)


Sound Bites, Arthouse Cinema, New Plymouth, New Zealand (presentation)

Selected recordings


Novak, S. Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, 1 track. Duration: 4 min., 6 sec.


Novak, S. Score Generators, 1 track. Duration: 12 min.


Novak, S. Bellbird Major, 1 track. Duration: 3 min., 5 sec.

Novak, S. Tui Minor, 1 track. Duration: 2 min., 33 sec.

Novak, S. Tone Connections, 1 track. Duration: 32 min., 2 sec.


Novak, S. Augmented Chord Study I, 1 track. Duration: 3 min., 27 sec.

Novak, S. Augmented Chord Study II, 1 track. Duration: 4 min., 12 sec.

Novak, S. Everything But Yellow, 11 tracks. Duration: 50 min., 1 sec.

Novak, S. Semitone Shift, 9 tracks. Duration: 30 min., 10 sec.