Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace wishes you a magical holiday season ✿❤❄✳

What a year!

Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace sends you our warmest wishes this holiday season. Both in the studio and out in the world, 2018 was a phenomenal year for us! We wanted to take a moment to share some of our accomplishments and activities with you.


The new year began with AbTeC co-founder Jason Edward Lewis offering a brand new course, a graduate seminar on the Future Imaginary, in which students thought about what Indigenous life would look like in the future and the implications of this question. Students produced research papers and creative projects to articulate their own future imaginaries. Undergraduate research assistant Dion Smith-Dokkie’s contribution to our Illustrating the Future Imaginary series, Figure 4. Exclusion Zone Radioactivity, developed from this course.

In February, graduate RA Maize Longboat and co-founder Skawennati gave two workshops at the Good Hearts, Good Minds conference in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, showing over 30 Indigenous youth how to tell traditional stories in digital media and introducing them to the basics of Second Life. Skarù:re’ Awekwehstá:θe:’ founder Mia McKie and graduate research assistant Waylon Wilson joined in to help. Back in the studio, we were paid a visit by students from OCADU’s Indigenous Visual Cultureprogram, who came to learn about our research and ongoing projects. Through this, we reconnected with Illustrating the Future Imaginary contributor Kaia’tanó:ron Dumoulin Bush. Kaia’tanó:ron joined us as an RA over the summer, offering her expertise in digital painting and design.

AbTeC and IIF hosted a number of other workshops this year too! In April, Maize and Skawennati, this time with Producer Nancy Townsend, went to Saskatchewan to give a machinima workshop at the Regina Public Library in partnership with the MacKenzie Art Gallery. Over the course of the week, participants created a short machinima based on a Nehiyȃw (Cree) story: How the Loon Got Its Walk. Find Maize’s account of the workshop here.

From March to May, AbTeC and IIF collaborated with the Kahnawake Survival School to offer an in-depth version of our 7th Generation Character Design Workshop. In this five-week workshop, our team worked with high school students to help them imagine a descendant or community member at least seven generations in the future. Working with paper and pen, participants sketched their designs under the guidance of Jason Edward Lewis and Skawennati. Following this, undergraduate RAs Raymond Tqoqweg Caplin and Kahentawaks Tiewishaw gave lessons in 3D modelling, UV unwrapping and skin creation. Participants then created their own characters. Our lessons were punctuated by a visit from industry professionals Dominick Meissner and Vivian Herzog of Behaviour Interactive. We concluded the workshop with an in-community exhibition of 3D printed versions of the participants’ digital models! In one of our prototype Seventh Generation Character Design Workshops, graduate RA Suzanne Kite (aka Kite) developed the concept for her performance artwork Listener. An image from this piece, entitled L-Sys (Lakȟóta System), was added to the Illustrating the Future Imaginary series.

In July, IIF collaborated with Kanaeokana and Kamehameha Schools to facilitate He Au Hou 2, the sixth version of our Skins Workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling and Video Game Design. Taking place in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, our team of seasoned pros and bright newbies worked with a marvellous cohort—who named themselves Ka Lei Milikaʻa—to transmediate Kanaka Maoli stories and knowledge into a video game format. A number of research assistants acted as facilitators and instructors—you can check out the test game they created in preparation for the workshop here. After three weeks of intense learning (and laughter), the cohort created Wao Kanaka, I ka Wā Mamua, i ka Wā Mahope. You can download the game for free at the Skins 6.0 website, as well as our curriculumblogdocumentation and participant bios.

Both AbTeC and undergraduate RA Lucas LaRochelle an Honourable Mention in the Digital Communities category of the Ars Electronica Festival! Additionally, Kite took part in the Hexagram Network’s Campus Ars Electronica group exhibition, Taking Care, with three performances of her iterative, multimedia performance artwork, Listener. Research assistant Sam Bourgault collaborated on Design and Computation Arts Masters student Augustina Isidori’s SOLA as the Unity Developer.

 In 2017, the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology introduced its Undergraduate Fellowship Program. Through this program, Milieux’s eight clusters nominate students to conduct personal research and contribute to its community. RA Dion Smith-Dokkie was our Fellow in the 2017-18 year. Currently, undergraduate research assistants Kahentawaks Tiewishaw and Rudi Aker are our Milieux Undergraduate Fellows.

The studio was abuzz with anticipation for the 19th edition of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Ontario! AbTeC and our affiliates submitted four works. For our part, AbTeC and the Skins 5.0 cohort, Nā ‘Anae Mahiki, submitted He Ao Hou, the video game made during the Skins 5.0 Workshop, our first in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Skawennati submitted her sci-fi machinima retelling of the Haudenosaunee confederation story, The Peacemaker Returns. Our research assistants were in on the action too! RA Waylon Wilson, along with his collaborator Mia McKie, exhibited their game, Nu:ya! Nu:ya! A Tuscarora Exploratory Game. And, RA Travis Mercredi’s virtual-reality walking sim, ~2700, was also featured in this year’s festival!

In November, a bunch of us attended the Indigenous Comic Con—we had a blast! Jason Edward Lewis, Nancy Townsend, Suzanne Kite, Maize Longboat, Ray Tqoqweg Caplin, Valerie Bourdon and Kahentawaks Tiewishaw all flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the three-day event. We connected with fellow Indigi-nerds and met cool artists! We even took part in the Cosplay Contest. An AbTeC team put together a beautiful costume which Kahentawaks wore, playing Otsitsakaion from Skawennati’s She Falls For Ages!

All year long, at our virtual headquarters, AbTeC Island, we have been researching what it means to create Indigenously determined cyberspaces—and what it means to be Indigenous online. A number of guests have come to our weekly visiting hours to explore and talk about Indigeneity, virtual worlds and the future. In October, we hosted a Halloween party, and just last week, a Winter Solstice Wonderland party to bring virtual and real-world guests into our little slice of virtual paradise. The project has appeared on platforms like Canadaland’s The IMPOSTER and CBC Unreserved with Rosanna Deerchild.

The studio has been bustling with residents and special guests over the past 12 months! Artist-in-residence Scott Benesiinaabandan has been working on a variety of projects over the year; his virtual-reality artwork, Blueberry Pie Under a Martian Sky, toured Canada with the 2167 project. We have also welcomed a host of guests for briefer stays. Lenape-Kiowa artist and IIF artist-in-residence Nathan Young collaborated with Suzanne Kite on a site-specific digital listening artwork. He also gave an artist’s talk, and was interviewed for our Future Imaginary Dialogues series. Filmmaker Adam Khalil and MIT Arts, Culture and Technology Masters student Erin Genia also visited us in studio! During the summer, Achimostawinan Games joined us to create a prototype version of their forthcoming, Indigenous Cybernoir video game, PURITY & decay. Meagan Byrne, Tara Miller, Travis Mercredi, Colin Lloyd and Gabriela Kim Passos were in the studio in various capacities in May and June, pushing the project forward with the support of our team. Finally, Anishinaabe comedian, writer, media maker and community activator Ryan McMahon gave an Indigenous Futures Cluster Presents public talk where he shared experiences gained through his podcast, Red Man Laughing.

This is just a sampling of our projects throughout 2018. If you would like to see a full overview of our activities in 2018 and years previous, click here to access our IIF Partnership Activity Interactive Timeline.


As you can see, 2018 was a magical and hectic year! Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace looks forward to some regenerative rest and to a fruitful 2019. We thank you for your continuing support and interest in our mission and wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and a wonderful New Year!

Warmly,
Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace

Kahentawaks Tiewishaw, Milieux Undergraduate Fellow!

My name is Kahentawaks Tiewishaw-Poirier and I am grateful to have been awarded one of the 2018-19 Milieux Undergraduate Fellowships. I come from the Kanehsatake Mohawk Territory, and I am a third year Computation Arts student at Concordia University. My research interests lie in exploring how Indigenous communities can use technology in an artistic way to pass on their respective cultures. I am primarily interested in the transmediation of traditional stories and legends.

As the use of mobile screens becomes an increasingly integral part of our lives, the way our children learn and play is changing. In order for our culture to be passed on successfully to future generations, we must invent new and interesting ways to engage with it. In a world where all media is grappling for a few seconds of our attention, we must remain relevant.

My expectation for this experience is that I will learn quite a bit about asset creation for mobile applications. Although the project that I have in mind is still a bit unrefined, I know for sure that it involves making an app that engages with my culture’s traditional stories.

My primary artistic practice is 3D modeling and I have both academic and professional experience in the field. My first professional experience came from teaching in the Seventh Generation Character Design Workshop that was offered by the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) at the Kahnawake Survival School in the spring of 2018. In this workshop, participants imagined a character that is from a world seven generations in the future. The character was drawn, 3D modeled, textured, posed, and eventually…3D printed!

The second instance of my professional experience was in preparation for my role as 3D Lead for IIF’s Skins 6.0 Workshop on Aboriginal Storytelling and Video Game Design, which took place in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, this past summer. My fellow technical instructors and I were mandated to create a mini game of our own design as a test run … If we were going to teach other people how to make a video game, we had to be sure we could make one ourselves! Consequently, my last big project was my instructor role in this workshop. I taught participants all about 3D asset creation for video games.

I look forward to the things I will learn while utilizing this Fellowship!

 

Rudi Aker, Milieux Undergraduate Fellow!

ntoliwis rudi, wolastoqew-nil, sitansisk-nil.

my name is rudi, i am wolastoqew, and i come from sitansisk, so-called fredericton, new brunswick. Among many other identities i hold: i am a nitap, a multidisciplinary artist, a cultural worker, and a student. i am in the last years of my Bachelor of Fine Arts at Concordia and within this institution i co-organize the Indigenous Art Research Group and i am a research assistant at Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace and Obx Labs.

It is important to acknowledge that i am a visitor here in tiohta:ke, meqewihkuk. I have and continue to benefit from being on this territory as wolastoqiyik. I persistently and actively think about the processes that allow me to be here, away from my territory and kin. I take time to consider what this means in the greater spectrum of placehood, visibility, and traversal of (un)colonized space—which underlies the subject of my research.

how it’s supposed to be. Acrylic on canvas. Rudi Aker. 2018.

My Fellowship will work through some big ideas on contact, place, and memory. I’m looking at works like The Book of Touch (Constance Classen) and Maps and Memes (Gwilym Eades), using these works to (re)frame concepts of contemporary Indigenous placehood. I am interested in the practice of navigating and experiencing space through intimate intergenerational information. How has this information been disseminated in our communities? What does this information look like, sound like, and feel like? I will thoroughly investigate memetics (akin to genetics), and ground myself in the study of how information travels through peoples, unknowingly and otherwise.

I am deeply inspired by scholars like Dr. Julie Nagam and her writing on concealed geographies, as well as Mishuana Goeman’s work on mapping. These scholars have lead me to reflect on Native Space, embodied practices of space-making, and the systematic disenfranchisement of Indigenous people through violent, colonial spatial practices.

By synthesizing this work, I suggest that counter-cartography is a decolonial and sovereign act that moves through generations by way of memes (cultural information that translates to/from minds and bodies). Ultimately, I will formulate how this informs a nuanced understanding of an inherently Indigenized sense of place.

nil yut. Glass beads on felt. Rudi Aker. 2018.

In addition to my synthesis paper, I will work on a creation project that brings together how I use representations of cartography as a process of undertaking my own emotive literacy and self-awareness. Throughout my practice, I use abstracted, map-like imagery to explore planes of surface. I have long been rooted in painting and beading though in the past few years, I have been engaging in a more materially-based practice. This has been a move to diversify my own practice to reflect the skills that I have gained and been privileged to be gifted with. This is also a pointed choice to dehierarchize the perception of art vs. craft and again, what it means for me to have access to various institutions that (de)limit my own making. The result of this aspect of the Fellowship will be cross-medium tactile explorations of space.

I am looking forward to working on a project so close to my interests and heart. I am so incredibly grateful for the support that I have been given in all of my life’s disciplines.

woliwon! psiw ntulnapemok! 🍓

imagineNATIVE 2018 Screening and Performance Reviews

Last month a number of our lab members travelled to the 19th imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, ON to take in the proceedings and represent IIF/AbTeC. From a wide array of amazing events, Undergraduate Research Assistants Ray Tqoqweg Caplin, Kahentawaks Tiewishaw and Graduate Research Assistants Maize Longboat and Waylon Wilson each chose a screening or artist talk to report on.

Hope to see you next year at the 20th anniversary of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival!

The Witching Hour

Friday, October 19

Ray Tqoqweg Caplin

This was my first time ever attending the ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival. Expecting to see various great works from many talented Indigenous filmmakers, I was indeed not disappointed. Throughout the festival, many screenings had an atmosphere of Fine Art and professionalism; this, combined with the many films I had seen talking about hard, depressing topics, left me with a sober, sombre mood. That is, until the campy yet devious Witching Hour.

Expecting an hour of exclusively spooky, cautionary tales, I was delighted to find campy, B-film, budget short films, each of which made me laugh out loud with the audience! I was particularly charmed by three machinima shorts of one to two minutes in length, the first of which was entitled First Impressions, by Sto:lo / Cree artist Andrew Genaille. In it, a woman is frightened at the sight of a zombie, who then addresses her assumptions that because he is dead, and a zombie, his place is in the ground, and that he is not a normal person. He proclaims that he is and thus educates her to not cast judgment on others so hastily. To say the least, it’s a subversion gag … and I loved it.

The Witching Hour was definitely one of my favourite screenings; its tricky, kitschy tone was a relief from other, more sombre films, which is fine by me. What’s more, I’m hoping to submit one of my short films to this film block next year!

Alanis Obomsawin: In Discussion

October 18, 2018

Maize Longboat

On the evening of Thursday, October 18, the legendary Abanaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin joined the festival program for an interview with Kerry Swanson, Chair of the imagineNATIVE Board of Directors. Obomsawin began by screening an excerpt from her forthcoming film, entitled Jordan’s Principle, that chronicles the story of Jordan River Anderson, a young Cree boy born in 1999 with complex medical needs. Jordan’s medical treatment was delayed because federal and provincial governments could not decide on who was responsible for paying and he eventually died in hospital at the age of five, having never lived in his family home. His story sparked policy and legal changes, namely Jordan’s Principle, which saw the federal government adopt a child-first policy to support children with disabilities in the future. As of 2016, Jordan’s Principle is now law in Canada, available to all First Nations children. However, these services remain difficult to access and Alanis Obomsawin’s film seeks to bring attention to Jordan’s story in hopes that it will help others in similar situations.

The discussion wasn’t only limited to talking about her films. For much of the second half of the session, Alanis told a story about her efforts to raise funds to create a pool for the children of her community, Odanak First Nation, before she began to make films. Since the nearby Québécois town would not allow Indigenous children to enter their pool, the only solution was that Odanak build its own. Through her hard work, determination, and help from others, Alanis was able to finally get the pool built. Ironically, when the neighbouring pool closed, Québécois children were welcomed to swim in the new pool at Odanak.

My main takeaways from Alanis Obomsawin’s interview were her wit and her generosity. She had the crowd laughing all the way through her stories, which she recounted in detail. Her strength as a person and as an issue-oriented filmmaker is profoundly inspiring and every bit deserving of the standing ovation she received at the conclusion of this discussion.

After The Apology

Saturday, October 20

Kahentawaks Tiewishaw

This screening included Lost Moccasin by Roger Boyer, Idle No More Ginger Cote, and Larissa Behrendt’s After the Apology. Together, these films brought to light the ongoing struggle of families who have been subjected to colonial government policies. In North America, we know of Residential Schools and the Sixties Scoop, which worked to assimilate Indigenous children by removing them from their families and culture. Similarly in Australia there were the Stolen Generations, in which Aboriginal children were unjustly taken from their homes and placed with white families or in Missions.

While various apologies have been issued for these atrocities by their respective governments, their efforts have not yet ceased. Still, Indigenous children in both North America and Australia are plucked from their families under the guise of ‘child protection’ by government agencies, which lack an understanding of the cultural and economic differences between our nations. Moreover, these agencies mistake systemic poverty for neglect, and remove children to be placed in homes deemed acceptable by colonial society. Though the films often reminded me of our inherited cultural traumas, they also reassure me that we are not alone on the path to recovery. They illustrate that Indigenous people everywhere are fighting the same battles, living the same realities, and are part of the same family. What I took away from these films is this: Colonial entities recognize that in family there is strength, which is why they tried so hard to disrupt ours. Imagine the empowering effects that would come from Indigenous people across the globe recognizing our greatest strength, each other!

Tectonic Shift

Thursday, October 18

Waylon Wilson

The Tectonic Shift screening addressed motifs such as Indigenous spiritualism, inter-generational sharing, death, relationships, survivance, and looking inward. The seven short films presented in this panel were a mix of fictional narrative and documentary, however most of these films were based on or at least inspired by true events.

The prominent shared theme of these narratives was the impactful practice of cultural and spiritual knowledge by the main characters. In Tama, a young Maori man practices and performs the Haka as a way to defend himself and his brother from an abusive relationship and alter the mind of their abuser, while in The Grave Digger of Kapu, an aging uncle teaches his nephew the spiritual significance and responsibility in digging graves for their community. In each of these spiritual short films, the characters exercise their new or existing spiritual knowledge as a way of externalizing their innate strength to make change within their relationships and community.  

In the discussion panel that followed, the artists and people involved in the production shared their interrelated experiences and inspirations behind making these films. Each held a direct reciprocal relationship to the communities portrayed on-screen and contextualized the importance of each film’s message to their community.

Introducing Our Skins 6.0 Team, Part 2: The Old Guns

You’ve met the spring chickens, now face the old guns! You’ll recognize these seven faces from last year’s He Au Hou / Skins 5.0; they’re all returning as members of our Skins 6.0 team and we are ecstatic. See you soon!!! ♡

Credit: Prem Sooriyakumar. 2017.

Jason Edward Lewis

What is your role in Skins 6.0?

Co-director.

What’s your favourite part of the entire workshop?

Storytelling. I love hearing the stories that the storytellers and participants bring into the room, the discussions about different variations in thestories and what they might mean, the thinking about what teachings the stories are trying to convey, and figuring out how to pull ingredients from them to work in the game.

What do you expect from this year’s version of Skins?

I am looking forward to working with a new crew of participants. The Skins 5.0 participants were amazing, and this incoming class looks also amazing—but in different ways. I am looking forward to collaborating again with the Kamehameha Schools/Kanaeokana crew again, as we’re getting to know each other well and working more smoothly together because of it. I’m really looking forward to the game that they will make.

Do you have other plans for your time in Hawai‘i?

Explore the beaches with our boys. Give a couple of talks at local events. Catch up with the Skins 5.0 participants.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Feeling blessed!

Credit: Zoe Tennant. 2018.

Skawennati

What is your role in Skins 6.0?

I am Co-Director of the Skins Workshops and am also one of the instructors. My area of expertise is transmediating Indigenous storytelling; basically, I translate oral tradition into movies and games.

What’s your favourite part of the entire workshop?

I love it when the story emerges! We start the workshop with a community story-telling event, where invited storytellers share with us traditional and/or contemporary histories, legends and tales. Then we decide together on a story we want to tell through the game we’ll be making. Sometimes it is very challenging for the group to come to a consensus, but it always works out it the end.

What do you expect from this year’s version of Skins?

We have refined our curriculum further, so this year I expect to have a smoother time in three most challenging segments of the workshop: deciding on a story, technical instruction and even production. Of course, work always expands to fill the time you have, so we shall see!

Do you have other plans for your time in Hawai‘i?

Jason and I will be giving a talk at Art in Hawai‘i’s conference at Boxjelly on Digital Futures. I also hope to hike Diamond Head with Nancy and to worship the ocean as much as possible. Hawai‘i is a beautiful, powerful place!

Is there anything you’d like to add?

A very exciting element about this year’s workshop is that there will be “alumni” from last year who will now be instructors-in-training. The Skins workshops need more instructors so that they can be delivered in more places, more often!

Nancy-Elizabeth Townsend

What is your role in Skins 6.0?

I am proud to be reprising my role as Coordinator / Producer for Skins 6.0. I have been part of the Skins Workshop Series since its beginnings ten years back when I was a “mere” undergrad 3D-art instructor. It is an honor to be invited back and to witness firsthand how this unique workshop has grown and improved with every iteration.

What’s your favourite part of the entire workshop?

In what I assume is a state unique to Producers, I personally flourish within the excitement-laced-stress of the final 3-day crunch. Game features are cut, added, and re-arranged to ensure a playable, beautiful monster of a project that we all birthed together. It is invigorating to witness and coach such a “miracle of life”!

What do you expect from this year’s version of Skins?

At this point in my career, I have coordinated a dozen+ workshops and many game projects. If there is anything I have come to expect, it is not to be surprised by anything. Group projects are unavoidably messy and depend so strongly on individuals, team dynamics, the computer-crashing-Gods, even the weather can throw a development timeline off its rails. A successful workshop/production plan is a flexible one. I can only hope to expect that all participants glean some new cultural insights, technical skills and everyone leaves the workshop feeling empowered.

Do you have other plans for your time in Hawai‘i?

As anyone can tell you, being away from home for a whole month can be difficult, especially as a parent. I am fortunate enough to have both my mother and 3-year-old daughter join me in Honolulu this year, mid-way through the workshop. I look forward to them experiencing the island in a context beyond mere tourism – meeting the brilliant team from Kanaeokana I have had the honour of working alongside and witnessing the importance and significance of such projects.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I apologize in advance for the too-many Final Fantasy references.

Credit: Prem Sooriyakumar. 2017.

Owisokon Lahache

What is your role in Skins 6.0?

I will be writing a daily blog highlighting the amazing events of the Skins Workshops as the days unfold as well as working alongside Noelani Arista as a cultural consultant / elder.

What’s your favourite part of the entire workshop?

I love it when the participants arrive and the magic begins. My favourite part of the workshop is having the opportunity to share the experience writing about the development of their team, the experience, the passion for their learning all centred around Aloha culture is definitely a high point. It is truly  amazing to be a part of their camaraderie and honouring their ancestral knowledge with todays tools.

What do you expect from this year’s version of Skins?

I expect to see a whirlwind flurry of activity from both the presenters and the participants. I believe the mentors and participants will reach the tipping point that will enable them to continue to create unique cultural pieces long after the session ends.

Do you have other plans for your time in Hawai‘i?

My husband will be joining me the first half of the workshop and I would like to spend some time with Tewenhni’tó:ken enjoying the land, ocean, and company of the Native Hawaiians. I would enjoy exploring, visiting the  Kanaka Maoli crafters and maybe do a little fishing too.

Credit: Prem Sooriyakumar. 2017.

Pippin Barr

What is your role in Skins 6.0?

I’m at Skins 6.0 as an instructor for game design and prototyping, so I’ll be giving a few sessions about how to do practical game design. I’m also around as a game development generalist – I’ve made a lot of small videogames over the years and have picked up a bunch of different skills, including experience working with Unity, the game engine we’ll be using, programming in C#, and more!

What’s your favourite part of the entire workshop?

It’s hard to pick out a single aspect of the workshop, because so much of it was so wonderful last year. Right at this moment I’d say it’s a tie between being immersed in Hawaiian culture, mo‘olelo, and aloha, and the production of the game itself in the final week, where we all get to work hard together and create something great!

What do you expect from this year’s version of Skins?

If it’s anything like last year’s I’ll be really happy. Mostly I’m expecting to meet a new group of people with new ideas and relationships to the culture and the technology. As for what comes out of that… we’ll find out!

Do you have other plans for your time in Hawai‘i?

I’ll be going to Wailana Cofee House as soon as possible for the French toast with guava and the coconut syrup. Definitely want to get back to Bailey’s Antiques to check out the shirts there. Most of all I want to catch up with all the people from last year! I’ve missed seeing Nate, Rian, Vance, Maki‘ilei, Gonzo, Kēhau, and everyone else!

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just can’t wait to be there!

Credit: Pippin Barr. 2018.

Rilla Khaled

What is your role in Skins 6.0?

I’m the “assessment lead”. Basically, this means I am eyes and ears on how learning is taking place during the workshop.

What’s your favourite part of the entire workshop?

Based on my experience last year, it was doing the wrap up interviews with the participants and seeing how far everyone had come individually in terms of confidence, knowledge, motivation, and having formed a community with each other. It was very moving.

What do you expect from this year’s version of Skins?

From the Hawai‘i side, they will be as awesome as ever. I like to think that the Canadian team is coming back smarter, wiser, and with some tweaks to make the experience flow even better.

Do you have other plans for your time in Hawai‘i?

Many noodles will be eaten. Much sitting in the sun shall be done.

Credit: Prem Sooriyakumar. 2018.

Prem Sooriyakumar

What is your role in Skins 6.0?

I was the documentarian (photo and video) on a daily basis I would document ever aspect of the workshop using photography and videography!

What’s your favourite part of the entire workshop?

My favourite part was getting to know the participants on their journey to making the first Hawaiian video game!

What do you expect from this year’s version of Skins?

I expect to continue to expand my knowledge about Hawai‘i and the wonderful community that surrounds the workshop!

Do you have other plans for your time in Hawai‘i?

Yes, besides the wonderful people.. it is a unique place for food, i will be on a quest to try as many different places as possible.  And I will be going to all the various botanical gardens in O‘ahu.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Privileged and humbled to be part of the workshop again!!

Introducing Our Skins 6.0 Team, Part 1: The Spring Chickens

With Skins 6.0 / He Au Hou 2 just around the corner, we wanted to introduce new members of our Skins family 🙂 These five, wily Research Assistants are coming to Hawaiʻi as instructors and as students. We’re so excited for you all to meet!

You can check out some of their work on our previous post, where they talk about “Call of Duty Free,” the Skins 6.0 test game!


Sam Bourgault

Hi, I am Sam. I will take care of the programming section of Skins 6.0 workshop, which includes lessons on Unity Game Engine and on coding using C# within that engine. I have taught Math and Physics classes before, but I always wanted to teach programming because you can do so much with it! I am looking forward to meeting the participants and learning about them and Hawaiian culture. I am also excited to spend more time with the great team AbTeC put together. Having visited Hawaiʻi for vacation two years ago, I will definitely go back to some unforgettable spots (the waves of Sandy Beach and Marukame Udon, a Japanese eatery on Kuhio avenue, are not to be missed!!) but I will also work on personal projects. I am sure the experience will be intense and challenging but also fun and mind-blowing. See you there soon (:

Ray Caplin

Greetings! My name is Ray Caplin, I am an independent animator and filmmaker, also an illustrator.  I am Mi’gmaq from Listuguj, located in Gaspésie and northern New Brunswick. My role in Skins 6.0 will be teaching the animated cinematic portions of the workshop, as well as anything having to do with 2D or 2.5D animation. Alongside that, I’ll support general illustration with Photoshop. I am excited to spark enthusiasm for the consumption and love for animation, to show how such a powerful storytelling tool can implemented into nearly any form of digital media. I hope to learn to become a better teacher, but alongside the students, learn about the many aspects of game development. Outside of the workshop, I look forward submerging myself in the rich culture, sample many foods and sights!

Victor Ivanov

Hello! My name’s Victor, and I’m a multidisciplinary designer and developer. My role during Skins 6.0 is focused around game design, level design, and audio production, with some involvement in the programming side of things.

This workshop has attracted me for a long time because games——especially games that tell stories–—have been at the forefront of my studies. I’m very excited about projects like this because they offer awesome opportunities for everyone, both participants and instructors, to learn and master technical skills.

And it goes without saying that the diverse set of perspectives we share will make for an incredibly enriching experience, both technically and culturally!

When it comes to matters outside the workshop, I’m super eager to try out the food. You haven’t really travelled if you haven’t tasted the food. Oh, and snorkelling! Not one after the other, though.

Maize Longboat

My name is Maize Longboat! I’m Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario. I’m an Assistant Producer and also a participant in Skins 6.0. Over the course of the workshop, I’m excited to learn about how narratives can be translated into game mechanics and I hope to learn about how Indigenous peoples express their Indigeneity through the creation of a videogame. When not in the workshop, I’m going to learn how to surf! Finally, I’d like to give my thanks for having the opportunity to participate in this workshop; it will be a great way to develop my Master’s research project.

Kahentawaks Tiewishaw

Hi! I’m Kahentawaks, a Mohawk and member of Kanehsatà:ke, and my role in Skins 6.0 will be teaching participants all things to do with 3D! I’ve had the opportunity to be an instructor in one other Skins workshop prior to this, and I am eager to build upon that experience. I was also a participant in the very first videogame workshop, Skins 1.0. The thing I am most looking forward to is meeting people from a culture that seems both similar and strikingly different to that of my own. I grew up in a very Mohawk traditionalist context, so I have heard MANY retellings of our culture’s stories. That being said, I am excited to hear some new ones, and to discover what we might learn from one another. Additionally, I plan to spend as much time as humanly possible outdoors, while also trying some local foods.


 

Call of Duty Free: The Skins 6.0 Test Game!

Skins 6.0 – He Au Hou 2 is almost here! Our Skins Video Game Workshop is returning to Hawaiʻi through our continued collaboration with Kanaeokana and Kamehameha Schools. Anticipation and excitement abound!

One way we prepare for the workshop is through the creation of a test game. This allows our team of technical instructors to acclimatize to one another and develop a group bond and to provide participants with a working Unity template to use as a learning tool. This year, our four Technical Instructors–Undergraduate Research Assistants Sam Bourgault, Ray Caplin, Victor Ivanov and Kahentawaks Tiewishaw–created a charming, foxy test game about an IIF RA’s journey to catch their plane, entitled “Call of Duty Free”!

Below you will find the RAs describing their role in developing the test game. 


Victor Ivanov:

The test game was, as the name suggests, a way for us to get acquainted with both one another and the tools we’d use during the workshop. My fellow Instructors and I had two weeks, part-time, to make it. From concept to production, I’d say we did a great job, given the time frame!

The game is about a Research Assistant rushing to catch their plane at the airport. It’s obvious that this game externalized some of our anxieties, and we’ll hopefully master the suitcase-jumping techniques by July, just in (suit)case.

I designed elements of the levels such as progression, narrative and scenes, along with the sidescroller mechanics. I conceptualized and designed the environments, composition and lighting, and produced some of the accompanying audio. I helped out with some of the programming by making the User Interface, tweaking movement mechanics, and creating level objects, like conveyor belts, suitcases—all the dynamic elements of each level.

What was cool about this game was that it uses two very different playstyles: point-and-click and side-scroller. We wanted to see which style we use in the workshop, and ended up with a sort of experimental game that taught us a lot about each playstyle’s strengths and weaknesses. Combining different forms of gameplay has inspired me in my own work to apply a variety of gameplay styles, in one single game, for narrative purposes.

Kahentawaks Tiewishaw:

I contributed to the design and 3D modelling of the main player character, as well as the non-player characters to the test game. I had never before created anything that was going to be implemented in a game, so for me this was really an opportunity to bring a few characters to life.

 

Ray Caplin: 

I contributed all the short 2D cinematics found between each level in the game. All of the animations were created in After Effects, using its basic puppet animation tools, which I feel added some charm to the game, and provided lively transitions between levels. Aside from this, I designed several characters, such as the Clerk, and illustrated the User Interface icons found in the the mini games.

Sam Bourgault:

I focused on creating the game managers—systems that coordinate the inner workings of the game—so that the scenes would follow each other in a smooth, persistent way. I also developed the code that controls player behaviors in both the side-scroller and the point-and-click mechanics. The most complex part was synchronizing the specific animations with the player’s corresponding motion state. I did some basic modelling in Unity for the point-and-click scenes, and programmed the behavior of the line when the player reached the security. Lastly, I helped with composition and level design.

We worked very well together, which allowed us to make the game in two weeks, part time. We agreed on a similar aesthetic and we trusted each other during the whole process! This is really promising for Hawaiʻi!


Finally, we invite you to watch through the playtest video at the top of the page. You can download “Call of Duty Free” for Mac and Windows!

Much love,

Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures

Third Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary: KC Adams, Dr. Stephen Borys, Siku Allooloo and Joar Nango!

KC Adams is a Winnipeg-based artist who graduated from Concordia University with a B.F.A in studio arts. She has had several solo exhibitions, group exhibitions and was included in the PHOTOQUAI: Biennale des images du monde in Paris, France. She has participated in residencies at the Banff Centre, the Confederation Art Centre in Charlottetown, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Parramatta Arts Gallery in Australia. Adams has received several grants and awards from Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. Her work is in many permanent collections Nationally and Internationally. Twenty pieces from the Cyborg Hybrid series are in the permanent collection of the National Art Gallery in Ottawa and from her installation BirchBarkLtd, four trees are in the collection of the Canadian Consulate of Australia, NSW. Recently, she was the set designer for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation. She completed a public art sculpture for the United Way of Winnipeg called Community. She has an ongoing public art campaign called Perception that was on display all over Winnipeg, MB and Lethbridge, AB. She recently won the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Making A Mark Award and Aboriginal Circle of Educator’s Trailblazing Award.

Dr. Stephen Borys is the Director & CEO of the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), Canada’s oldest civic art gallery and one of the country’s largest. Under his leadership over the last nine years, the WAG has expanded and strengthened its role and profile in the community, as well as in the cultural and museum landscape in Canada and abroad. Dr. Borys has enabled significant growth in the Gallery’s overall operations, permanent collections, international exhibitions and partnership programs, capital and endowment development, and member and visitor engagement. At the core of his directorship is the goal of advancing a meaningful dialogue with the public, creating in both physical and virtual spaces, a welcoming forum where art and artmaking is at the forefront with audiences and stakeholders.

Siku Allooloo is an Inuit/Haitian Taino writer, activist, and community builder from Denendeh (Northwest Territories). She has a BA in Anthropology and Indigenous Studies from the University of Victoria, and a diverse background in Indigenous land-based education, youth work, solidarity building, and community-based research. Most recently she has been a program coordinator, facilitator and co-instructor at Dechinta Center for Research and Learning, working closely with elders and educators to deliver land-based skills and build strength in community. Her advocacy work through writing and speaking centers on issues of climate change, environmental protection, ending gender violence and decolonial politics. Siku is also an emerging creative nonfiction writer and poet, and she recently had a brief stint as a performance artist at Nuit Blanche in Toronto, 2017. Her work has been featured in The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review, Briarpatch, The Guardian, and Truthout, among others.

Joar Nango is an architect with a degree from NTNU in Norway, and a practicing artist. He works with place-specific installations and self-made publications, which explore the boundary between architecture, design and visual art. Thematically speaking, his work relates to questions of indigenous identity, often through investigating the oppositions and contradictions in contemporary architecture. Recently, he has worked on the theme The Modern Sámi Space through, amongst other things, a self-published zine series entitled Sámi Huksendáidda: the Fanzine, design project Sámi Shelters and the mixtape/clothing project Land & Language. He is also a founding member of the architecture collective FFB, which works with temporary installations in public space. Currently, he lives and works in Tromsø, Norway. Nango’s work has also been exhibited internationally in Ukraine, The US, Canada Finland, China, Russia, Colombia and Bolivia amongst other places. In 2017 he exhibited in Documenta14, Kassel and Athens.

Third Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary: Dr. Carla Taunton, Megan Tamati-Quennell, Dr. Serena Keshavjee, and Keith Munro!

Dr. Carla Taunton an Associate Professor in the Division of Art History and Critical Studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD) and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the department of Cultural Studies at Queen’s University as well as in the Graduate Studies Department at Dalhousie University. Taunton’s areas of expertise include Indigenous arts and methodologies, Indigenous history of performance, contemporary Canadian art, museum and curatorial studies, as well as theories of decolonization, anti-colonialism and settler responsibility. Through this work she investigates current approaches towards the writing of Indigenous-specific art histories, recent Indigenous and settler research/arts collaborations, and strategies of creative-based interventions that challenge colonial narratives, national/ist institutions and settler imagination. Her recent collaborative research projects include: The Kanata Indigenous Performance, New and Digital Media Art Project (2013-16); Arts East (2014-5); This is What I Wish You Knew: Urban Aboriginal Artists (2015-ongoing) and Theories and Methodologies for Indigenous Arts in North America (2014-ongoing).

Megan has specialist interests in the work of the post war (1945) first generation Māori artists, Mana wahine; Māori women artists of the 1970s and 1980s, the ‘Māori Internationals’; the artists who developed with the advent of biculturalism, a postmodern construct peculiar to New Zealand and global Indigenous art with particular focus on modern and contemporary Indigenous art in Australia, Canada and the United States. Iwi affiliation: Te Ātiawa, Ngāi Tahu

Serena Keshavjee’s work focusses on the intersection of art and science in visual culture. She is especially interested in religiosity that presents itself as scientifically based, including Spiritualism, Theosophy and Transformism, popular in the early 20th century. In 2009 she edited a special issue of Canadian Art Review (RACAR) on Science, Symbolism and Fin-de-Siècle Visual Culture. She is the recipient of Social Sciences and Humanities Council Grant to study evolutionary theory and art. In 2015 Keshavee co edited, with Fae Brauer, Picturing Evolution and Extinction: Regeneration and Degeneration in Modern Visual Culture with Cambridge Scholars Press.

Keith Munro is Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Australia. He is a descendent of the Kamilaroi (Gomeroi/ Gamilaroi/Gamilaraay) people of north-western New South Wales and south-western Queensland, Australia. A selection of his curatorial projects include Ripple Effect: Boomalli Founding Members(2012), Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative 25th anniversary exhibition, and for the MCA Being Tiwi, (2015– 2017, co-curated with Senior Curator Natasha Bullock), the international touring Ricky Maynard: Portrait of a Distant Land(2008–2010), Bardayal ‘Lofty’ Nadjamerrek AO (2010) and In the Balance: Art for a Changing World (2010).

 

Third Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary: France Trépanier, Sébastien Aubin, Lenard Monkman and Kevin Settee!

France Trépanier is a visual artist, curator and researcher of Kanien’kéha:ka and French ancestry. Her practice is informed by strategies of collaboration. Her artistic and curatorial work has been presented in many venues in Canada and in Europe. France is co-leading Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires, a 3-year initiative which seeks to place Indigenous art practices at the centre of the Canadian art system. She is the Aboriginal Curator at Open Space Arts Society in Victoria BC, where she is co-curating, with Michelle Jacques and Doug Jarvis, the exhibition Deconstructing Comfort. France was the co-recipient of the 2012 Audain Aboriginal Curatorial Fellowship by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. France co-authored with Chris Creighton-Kelly Understanding Aboriginal Art in Canada Today: a Knowledge and Literature Review for the Canada Council for the Arts. Her essays and articles have been published in numerous journals and magazines.

Sébastien Aubin is currently working as the Indigenous Designer in Residence, at the School of Art, at the University of Manitoba. Through this program, he is producing a body of creative work and research that extends our understanding of design and graphic form. He has worked for some of the most prestigious graphic design studios in Canada and maintains a career as a freelance graphic artist. Sébastien has designed publications for numerous artists, organizations, and art galleries in Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba, including the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Terrance Houle, KC Adams, the Carleton University Art Gallery, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba. He is a founding members of the ITWÉ Collective, which is dedicated to researching, creating, producing, and educating audiences about Indigenous digital culture. He is also part of the AM Collective, which creates works that revolve around the imagination, sparking dialogue on subjects that relate to everyday life and emotions. Sébastien Aubin is a proud member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba.

Representatives of Red Rising Magazine. Lenard Monkman is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, Treaty 2 territory. He is currently employed as an Associate Producer for CBC Indigenous. Kevin Settee has facilitated community development programs at the University of Winnipeg and Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning centre.