Artist Statement //
It is critical that Aboriginal people show up in The Future. Historical images of Indians are everywhere, yet Aboriginal people rarely appear in our future imaginaries. Our lack of presence in the depictions of things to come concerns me. As a Mohawk woman, I believe that we need to visualize ourselves as full participants in the future in order to assume our appropriate role as active agents in the shaping of new mediums and new societies.
At the moment, nothing can represent The Future better than a real-time, interactive, 3D space where fantastical people populate improbable architecture and fly, teleport, and telepathically communicate their thoughts and dreams. Second Life, the popular virtual world, is such a space. How do Indigenous people fit into such spaces? And, more importantly, what is our role in defining those spaces? TimeTraveller™ is a creative and critical intervention into such discussions.
TimeTraveller™ is a 9-part machinima that tells the story of Hunter, an angry young Mohawk man living in the 22nd century. Despite his impressive range of traditional skills, Hunter is unable to find his way in an overcrowded, hyperconsumerist, technologized world. He decides to use his edutainment system, his TimeTraveller™, to learn about his heritage. Through a bizarre glitch in the system, he meets Karahkwenhawi, a young Mohawk woman from our present. Together they criss-cross time, and end up discovering the complexity of history, truth, and love.
Skawennati makes art that addresses history, the future, and change. Her pioneering new media projects include the online gallery/chat-space and mixed-reality event, CyberPowWow (1997-2004); a paper doll/time-travel journal, Imagining Indians in the 25th Century (2001); and TimeTraveller™ (2008-2013), a multi-platform project featuring nine machinima episodes. These have been widely presented across North America in major exhibitions such as “Now? Now!” at the Biennale of the Americas; and “Looking Forward (L’Avenir)” at the Montreal Biennale. She has been honored to win imagineNative’s 2009 Best New Media Award as well as a 2011 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. Her work is included in both public and private collections.
Born in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, Skawennati holds a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, where she is based. She is Co-Director, with Jason E. Lewis, of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research network of artists, academics, and technologists investigating, creating, and critiquing Indigenous virtual environments. She also co-directs their Skins workshops in Aboriginal Storytelling and Digital Media. In 2015, AbTeC launched IIF, the Initiative for Indigenous Futures; Skawennati is its Partnership Coordinator