Memories of the Future
Introduction by Charlotte Hoelke
Anishinaabe scholar Grace Dillon first coined the term Indigenous futurisms. In her essay, “Imagining Indigenous Futurisms” she describes it as “...the possibility of an optimistic future...a reversal of circumstances, where Natives win or are at least centred in the narrative.” Dillon explains that “…all forms of Indigenous futurisms [involve]...discarding the emotional and psychological baggage carried from [the] impact [of colonization], and recovering ancestral traditions in order to adapt in our post-Native Apocalypse world.” Working with virtual reality and gaming platforms, the new media artists featured in Memories of the Future are producing, disseminating, receiving, and engaging in Indigenous futurisms. They present to us alternate universes with the transformative potential to undo oppressive structures of colonization while asserting a current and ongoing Indigenous voice.
Invaders by Elizabeth LaPensée is a playful re-imagining of the classic game Space Invaders. In LaPensée’s version, Indigenous community members shoot arrows at invading alien colonizers and, when a player loses a life, one of the player’s community members disappears. LaPensée not only Indigenizes a game’s story and characters, but also the very way in which video games are played and understood. In We Sing for Healing, LaPensée explains that this game is “…made from a place where Google Maps can’t zoom in and Skype doesn’t load…it speaks to a space/time journey in theme and technology.” We Sing for Healing transports us to a new dreamscape where temporality, like our future, is unfamiliar and unknown.
As a not-for-profit organization based in Iqaluit, Pinnguaq’s mandate is to create interactive experiences that push both the limits of technology and cultural expression. Three of their games are included in the exhibition. Submerging gamers into Qikiqtaaluk in the year of 1962, Beneath Floes contributes to the futurity of Inuit stories and language, centering current players in a world that simultaneously exists and is imagined. Language and culture education are central themes in Singuistics where players learn Inuktitut through both traditional and original songs. In Art Alive*, Inuit prints come alive to tell stories enabling us to think of our present and future times in a new way.
In Skawennati’s single channel video TimeTraveller™, a reframed decolonized version of history is told through the lens of an imagined Indigenized future. Memories of the Future hopes to take part in decolonization processes by engaging audiences in narratives of Indigenous futurisms. So, take a seat, and be transported to the futures that we have, are, and will, inevitably shape and make real.