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19 JANUARY 2016

Skins: Designing Games with First Nations Youth

"Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), based out of Obx Labs at Concordia University in Montreal and directed by Lewis and Skawennati Fragnito, is a network of academics, artists, and technologists that encourages Indigenous participation in online culture and exploration of new media technology. The main objective of the AbTeC research network is to discover, define, and implement methods by which Indigenous people can use networked communication technology to strengthen our cultures. In an effort to overcome the economic, social, and cultural factors that influence the low rate of Indigenous participation in the making of new media and encourage Indigenous representation in digital games and virtual worlds specifically, AbTeC proposed to conduct Skins, a game/virtual world development workshop for Aboriginal youth that teaches them design programming, art, animation, and audio. ...

In conducting Skins, our goal is to encourage First Nations youth to be more than consumers of digital media; rather, we wish to show them how they themselves can be creators who can approach games with a critical perspective and from within their own cultural context. We are motivated by the possibilities of digital games and virtual environments for Indigenous peoples as well as correcting or adding to representations of Indigenous peoples in commercial games. Indigenous peoples' survival, recovery, development, and self-determination hinges on the preservation and revitalization of languages, social and spiritual practices, social relations, and arts [1]. Digital games and virtual environments, with their unique combination of story, design, code, architecture, art, animation, and sound [2], provide a rich medium though which to explore different strategies for pursuing such preservation and revitalization. For example, Thornton Media's RezWorld is a virtual environment for learning the Cherokee language. It has even been argued that the fluid, open, and networked characteristics of modern digital media make it particularly useful as a tool for Aboriginal storytelling, with Loretta Todd, Cree/Métis filmmaker and Director of the Aboriginal Media Arts Lab, suggesting 'the experience of cyberspace offers the reversal of narrative as derived from storytelling, a return to oral tradition' [3]. Furthermore, due to the radical decrease in the costs of the means of production and distribution, digital games and virtual worlds present Indigenous people with a powerful opportunity to widely (or narrowly) communicate stories in which we shape our own representation."

(Beth Aileen Lameman and Jason Edward Lewis, 2011)

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TAGS

2011Aboriginal culture • Aboriginal Media Arts Lab • Aboriginal storytelling • Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC) • Aboriginal youth • Bart Simon • Beth Aileen Lameman • CanadaCelia Pearce • Cherokee language • Christian Beauclair • community participatory project • Concordia University • Cree • cultural representations • development workshop • digital games • digital media and learning • Dogrib • First NationsFirst Nations youth • Haudenosaunee • Indigenous cultural production • Indigenous participation • Indigenous peopleindigenous peoples • Indigenous representation in digital games • Indigenous representation in virtual worlds • Iroquois • Jason Edward Lewis • Journal of Game Design and Development Education • Katherine Isbister • Ken Finney • language preservation • Loretta Todd • Louise Profeit • making new media • Metis • Mohawk • Montreal • more than consumers • Myron Lameman • Nacho Nyak Dun • Nehiraw • new media artist • new media technologiesNorth American • Obx Labs at Concordia University • oral traditionresearch network • revitalisation of languages • RezWorld • Richard Van Camp • self-determination • Skawennati Fragnito • spiritual practices • Steve Loft • Steve Sanderson • Thornton Media • traditional culturevideo game designvideo games and Indigenous peoplevirtual environmentsvirtual worlds

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
15 JUNE 2014

The peculiar case of the Icelandic Phallological Museum

"Paris has the Louvre. London has the Tate Modern, and New York the Metropolitan Museum. But Husavik, Iceland–a diminutive village on the fringe of the Arctic Circle–boasts the world's only museum devoted exclusively to painstakingly preserved male genitalia. Founded and curated by Sigurður 'Siggi' Hjartarson, the Icelandic Phallological Museum houses four decades worth of mammalian members, from a petite field mouse to the colossal sperm whale, and every 'thing' in between. But, lamentably, Siggi's collection lacks the holy grail of phallic phantasmagoria: a human specimen. Siggi's world changes dramatically when he receives generous offers from an elderly Icelandic Casanova and an eccentric American. However, as the competition for eternal penile preservation heats up between the two men, Siggi soon discovers that this process is more complicated than it initially appeared. In their debut feature film, Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math follow Siggi on his dogged, often emotional quest to complete his exhibition in a peculiar, yet startlingly relatable, story of self–fulfillment and the value of personal legacies (both big and small)."

Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math (2012). "The Final Member" [documentary film, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2318701/]

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TAGS

2012anatomyarctic circle • Ari Karlsson • Asbjorn Bjorgvinsson • bodycabinet of curiosities • Casanova • collections • collector • documentary film • documentary subject • Douglas Mason • Drafthouse Films • eccentric • eccentric collection • Fantastic Fest • genitalia • genitals • Hannes Blondal • Helgi Heoinsson • human donor • human specimen • Husavik • Iceland • Icelandic Phallological Museum • intriguing objects • Jonah Bekhor • male genitalia • mammalian penis • mammals • Marci Bowers • Mitchell Morris • museumNorth American • organ donor • Pall Arason • Paula-Jo Husack • penis • penis museum • penis size • personal collections • personal legacies • Petur Halldoresson • phallic • phallic phantasmagoria • Reynir Hjartarson • Sigurour Hjartarson • Sin Hastings • specimentaboo subjects • taxidermist • Terry Gunnel • The Final Member (2012) • Tom Mitchell • Zach Math

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
01 JANUARY 2004

Pioneer 10: betraying assumed and privileged cultural codes

"We have sent several inscribed messages into space. The two Voyager probes each carry a long–playing record of 'The Sounds of Earth' and both Pioneer craft, the first manmade objects to leave our Solar System, bear plaques charting their route, along with a picture of naked humans waving a greeting. A similar alien salutation could be waiting on Earth for us, says Rose"
(Mark Peplow, Nature News)

Rose C. & Wright G. Nature, 431. 47 – 49(2004).

[On the 3rd of March 1972 NASA launched the Pioneer 10 interstellar probe (spacecraft) into deep space. Attached to it was a plaque designed to communicate something of what it meant to be from Earth. It attempted to present a generalised view of humanity stripped of all cultural and social difference (a normative view). Despite this noble aim the plaque couldn't help but betray its assumed (and privileged) cultural codes. Its focus on Terrestrial life was unmistakably: Human; ethnically Anglo–Saxon (logically North American); heterosexual and 1960s – 70s.]

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