Hot Docs Festival Fun

She:kon! It’s finally warming up here in Montreal this week.

Recently, Ana Serrano of the CFC (Canadian Film Centre) reached out to Skawennati to see if she would be interested in having AbTeC Island shown at Toronto’s Hot Docs Festival. As an IIF and CFC co-production, tours would be given using Virtual Reality headsets and mics so that people could walk through sets and chat with tour guides in real time; a totally new way to experience the world!

Skawennati responded with “Let’s try it!”. She felt the idea dovetailed nicely with our Activating AbTeC Island initiative. From 12-5pm April 29 to May 8, we gave guided tours of sets from TimeTraveller™. The first day was special, as voice actors Thomasina Phillips and Nicholas Fragnito wore the avatars of the two protagonists, Karahkwenhawi and Hunter, and led tours in character. Skawennati also led a tour.

Saturday and onward the tours were given by research assistants Erica Perreault and Darian Jacobs.

A lot of questions came up through the use of the experimental process, touching on issues like motion sickness, sound and graphics hurdles. Happily, quick thinking and problem-solving skills were abundant on both sides and solutions were found. One solution led to focusing the tours in the Art Museum, where people were invited to question the art, Second Life and TimeTraveller™.

Most visitors shared that they had never used VR before and were amazed to be walking through the world. Others were fascinated to be chatting with their tour guide in real time, despite being miles away from each other. There was even a few people who didn’t quite believe that they were really talking to a human. A few TimeTraveller™ fans even made an appearance!

It was certainly a new and fun experience for many!

Imagining Indians at Dechinta

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Skawennati and I working with the Dechinta students on a character design excercise, where we ask them to imagine a 7th-generation descendant…what she looks like, how he dresses, what she does, where he goes, etc.

Skawennati and I (and Zachariah and Elijah and godmother Kathleen) have now been up in the bush for four amazing days, learning how Dechinta conducts its land-based learning programs. More later…

 

 

IIF Symposium Toronto Week 4

She:kon,

Today we are posting the last of the videos from the 1st Symposium!

The Symposium on the Future Imaginary was the first in a series of gatherings to talk about how Indigenous people might envision our future. Organized by the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) and hosted by the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, it was held on the afternoon of September 15th, 2015, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.

We have been publishing the videos on a weekly basis and the final group are now available to watch!

Here are the videos for week four:

Jolene Rickard Considering Traditional Practices of ‘Seeing’ as Future

Concluding Group Commentary

IIF Symposium Toronto Week 3

She:kon, We are continuing to post the videos from the 1st Symposium!

The Symposium on the Future Imaginary was the first in a series of gatherings to talk about how Indigenous people might envision our future. Organized by the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) and hosted by the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, it was held on the afternoon of September 15th, 2015, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.

We have been publishing the videos on a weekly basis and the final batch will come out next week!

Here are the videos for week three:

Julie Nagam explaining the concept of using Technology as Decolonial Tools

Elizabeth LaPensée presenting Games as a Pathway to Indigenous Futurisms

IIF Symposium Toronto: Week 2

She:kon, We are continuing to post the videos from the 1st Symposium!

The Symposium on the Future Imaginary was the first in a series of gatherings to talk about how Indigenous people might envision our future. Organized by the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) and hosted by the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, it was held on the afternoon of September 15th, 2015, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.

We will be publishing a set of videos each week for the next month. Here are the videos for week two:

Stephen Foster presenting the Indigenous New Media Archive

Jason Ryle explaining the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival’s goals partnering with IIF

Imagining the future: an op-ed in La Presse

She:kon! Today, as always, we are looking to the future. This time in French language paper La Presse!

Jason Edward Lewis and Skawennati co-wrote an op-ed that was published on Sunday April 3rd, 2016. It is a fair and well thought out piece that considers how lack of representation can cause harm and that everyone needs to have a true understanding of Indigenous history as we move to the future. It’s fine to dream of a white Christmas but a White future is a bit too narrow. The Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) aims to enable Indigenous creatives to push against forces, literal or metaphysical, so that they can show that the future will be more than what has been seen so far.

Take a look at the full piece, which is currently French-only, to get the in-depth story! We’ll post the English version when (if) it gets published.

LA PRESSE: L’avenir autochtone, c’est aussi le vôtre

Milieux Institute Launch

She:kon! Spring means melting snow and the reveal of new things.

One of those things is the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology. It is a new inter-faculty research institute established by the Office of Research at Concordia University.

There was an open house from 2:00 to 6:00PM on March 30, with a reception during the second half. The event was a chance for those working in the labs and studios to poke around and see what their neighbors are up to. Some of the guests were invited friends, collaborators and partners along with the faculty and students.

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People streamed through the Obx Labs offices and were able to ask questions about past and future works being done here. The team was decked out in the new IIF t-shirts and many were given to visitors.

Our Skins video games were available to play, P.o.E.M.M. was set up on an iPad, our island in Second Life was open to explore and many delighted in having the chance to demo some VR set ups, all while TimeTraveller™ played in the background. The HTC VIVE was a hit as people lined up to try out the spacey tech.

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Milieux is a new institutional platform for integrating research/creation in digital arts, culture and technology.

Milieux describes its goals as: creating beautiful new spaces and possibilities for communication and collaboration, supporting student creativity and interdisciplinary experience, and developing critical public engagement through technology and culture.

There were good chats and the shared enthusiasm helped to revitalize everyone as we escape the winter funk.

IIF Symposium Toronto

She:kon, We are finally ready to publish the videos from the 1st Symposium!

The Symposium on the Future Imaginary was the first in a series of gatherings to talk about how Indigenous people might envision our future. Organized by the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) Partnership and hosted by the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, it was held on the afternoon of September 15th, 2015, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.

We will be publishing a set of videos each week for the next month. The first set is:

Round Table Introductions

Jason Lewis Introducing IIF and the Symposium

Skawennati Explaining IIF’s Goals: Residencies and Skins Workshops

Team Tech Training

She:kon! The Initiative for Indigenous Futures team’s workload has begun to amp up with multiple projects running at once. With schedules that won’t always match up perfectly, it’s important to have the entire team have an understanding of the various tools we use.

The latest training session involved checking out VIVE. VIVE is a form of VR (Virtual Reality) where they place emphasis on it being a full room experience. There is the usual headset and what sets it apart is the inclusion of two controllers that are held by the user and are used to interact with the world.

Some of the other training demos have touched on the use of the Gear VR headsets and the creation of characters and general use of Second Life. There will be more sessions as skills are needed, such as camera use for filming. Technology is always growing and changing and staying up to date will continue to be important to the team as we move forward.

Women and Games at Montréal Joue

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Montréal Joue is a festival of game culture produced by Bibliothèques de Montréal (Montreal Libraries) and is currently running for the fourth year. This year, for the first time, they have a theme: “Femmes et jeux”, or women in games. They state on their website that the theme aims to deconstruct the views people may have of women and their roles in the “video game ecosystem”. Women imagine, create, plan and play videogames (where there are occasionally even female leads!).

Along with other groups such as Pixelles and Ludia, Skawennati was invited to take part in the festival by showing work that she and AbTeC/Obx Labs have created. Research Assistants Erica Perreault and myself went with her to run the table and interact with anyone who wanted to know more about the works. TimeTraveller™ was playing on an iPad, while Ienién:te and the Peacemaker’s Wampum, a game created during the Skins 4.0 workshop was featured on the big screen. Postcards featuring commissioned art from IIF were available as cool take-aways.

TimeTraveller™ drew in a couple of fans who recognized the work and were happy to speak with Skawennati. The postcards were popular and the game had some people playing all the way to the end! A cold Montreal evening was made warmer with good company.