The word 'indigenous' triggered a couple of points.
But firstly in relation to the 'born digital', is it unreasonable to
argue that what is distinct is the big epistemological shift occuring
across digital as well as art and design, the shift towards
Grant Kester says,
I do think there is a paradigm shift occurring, specifically in the way
in which we understand aesthetic autonomy. This isn't simply a shift in
the content of work, but in the underlying formal organization of
artistic production. … These changes aren't occurring simply because
artists are asking different questions about their own creative
practice. Rather, they reflect a broader, trans-disciplinary interest in
collective knowledge production. Kester, G
It may be self evident and stating the obvious, but the very possibility
of the paradigm shift to "collective knowledge production" is only
possible because of the digital environment.
Following on the 'indigenous' track, my colleague Gavin Renwick now
Canada Chair of Design at the University of Alberta has been working
with the indigenous Dene peoples in the North West Territories for many
years. His role is as a cultural intermediary initially on their Land
Claim with the Canadian Government.
I'm not sure what stage the process is at or how successful they have
been, but there was a stage where they were arguing to remove the
Cartesian Grid from the land they were claiming, ie to stop controlling
it through a grid structure of ownership. As nomadic peoples they never
understood the land as this bit and that bit, whether collectively owned
or in the European mode owned by individuals. Removing the grid dividing
the land up into parcels would remove the possibility of individual
In other dimensions the Dene have some useful concepts particular in
relation to operating between their own culture and western culture.
These include "being strong like two people" The Elders recognise that
the young people need to be strong and capable in Western Culture, but
also need to be strong and capable in their own culture. Leading on
from this there is another interesting expression "Being modern in your
own language". In both cases they are aiming at a healthy and
I think this speaks to the challenges that are being brought up by this
discussion. It doesn't homogenise heritage with contemporary digital
culture, but offers ways for the two to exist in a powerful relationship.
PS I've cced Roger because I'm not always sure my emails go through to
the DISCUSSION list
On 06/06/2017 18:52, Elif Ayiter wrote:
> Hi Roger,
> Fundamental questions, some of which I am most likely not properly equipped
> to answer. But, I will try my best to explain a bit further regarding the
> metaverse. And in order to be able to do so, I am afraid that I will have
> to go over the 500 word or a few phone screen limit by quite a bit. So, my
> apologies about that before all else:
> I do not think that the primary challenge of the metaverse is spatial but
> rather it is emotional. In the previous post I have talked exclusively
> about building, I know. However, the biggest creative challenge of the
> metaverse does not revolve so much around the creation of things as it does
> around the creation of an entirely new life - and indeed in most cases
> around the creation of multiple lives, of establishing valid purposes and
> reasons to "build" a novel existence (or indeed novel existences). These do
> of course have their foundations in your Real Life self but are
> nevertheless quite apart from it - in the sense that Pessoa's heteronyms
> come from Pessoa but are discrete entities nevertheless.
> Of the tens of millions people who have created accounts in Second Life
> only about 1.5 million have actually remained in Second Life, and of those
> only about half login with any kind of regularity. So, the fallout rate is
> unbelievably high - and this is for a very good reason: "Building" a new
> life, finding a raison d être that is unrelated to Real Life affairs is
> actually a very tough thing to bring about. So, the primary creative
> activity of the Colombian metaverse resident and I, if we are both still
> around today, would not have been about building stuff but about building
> an existential purpose that was powerful enough to keep us logged in, in
> the first place. And that existential purpose, as far as I have witnessed
> and from personal experience, will involve the creation of a paracosm, and
> a wish to play therein
> - in the sense that Huizinga describes play - as a state of freedom that
> sets the player outside the confines of the 'ordinary' or of 'real' life
> for the duration of the play session.
> Coming now to heritage: I would say that where heritage comes in very
> powerfully is in the creation of this "second" life itself. Yes, Real Life
> identities can be fully concealed (and very often are) in the metaverse.
> However, I do think that heritage - be it from a broader cultural
> perspective or from a narrowly personal one - is a major factor in how the
> paracosm and the player (i.e., the avatar persona) are created. And, I
> relate this process to childhood more than I do to a mere transference of
> the grown up individual's attributes to a virtual persona. I think what
> happens is that we build our avatar selves out of our childhood. And isn't
> our childhood all about heritage? The stories we were told, the pantomimes,
> the nursery rhymes, the dances, the folklore we grew up with, the songs,
> the rituals, the processions and carnivals we participated in as children,
> how powerfully they impressed us at that young age, the architectures and
> spaces we were awestruck by, the early picture books, the fairy tales. The
> mystery of it all.
> So, of all the hundreds of avatars whom I either know very well or may have
> only briefly encountered, I cannot think of a single persona that does not
> appear to come out of childhood. In many cases very plainly visually
> manifested before even a hello has been uttered, in others divulged during
> the earliest conversations, straight off the bat. And my own alt personas
> (I have 8 altogether) are certainly products of my childhood - or rather
> different influences / experiences / encounters of my childhood. And the
> building activity is of course an offshoot of that. Which is how, I would
> think, the Colombian colleague would also be operating - under the adages
> of his own childhood and therefore his heritage. This would not of course
> necessarily mean that what he builds or what I build would be easily
> identifiable as such. If all this comes from childhood, it will probably be
> mostly subliminal / half remembered and will therefore probably peek out
> only as traces. So, I think it is actually quite a subtle thing that may or
> may not be easy to identify in the artifacts that we build. But, given this
> childhood influence, I do think that it will be there.
> Your question: "does any one have good examples of totally new cultural
> heritage forms in cyberspace ?" I do not know of anything that is totally
> new but I do think that if we consider things not under the term of
> "output," but rather under the term of "process" there is something that
> may be quite intriguing in the idea of creating a persona that then becomes
> creatively active in his / her / its own right. Alpha (one of my avatars)
> builds, indeed thinks, altogether differently from Xiamara (another avatar
> of mine who is a fashion designer, as is also Alpha). Not at all new, of
> course - after all Charles Dodgson thought and wrote differently than Lewis
> Carroll - but something to be explored nevertheless, especially when put
> within a virtual context.
> You can build non-Cartesian spaces in SL, you can build anything you pretty
> much want really. I have tried to rebuild El Lissitzky's Proun 5A
> <https://www.homage-to-el-lissitzky.com/proun-5a>, for example, which
> turned out to be a massive job because El Lissitzky (as I found out while I
> was re-building the construct from his drawings) had not adhered to the
> rules of Cartesian space in the Proun 5A series. I have built quite a few
> spaces in the metaverse that are quite hard to negotiate / make sense of /
> get around in Cartesian terms. I have tried to examine these under the
> Deleuzian concept of smooth and striated on my website
> <http://www.elifayiter.com/smoothstriated>. What emerges from such an
> examination however is that smooth space becomes striated as soon as there
> is any kind of human occupancy. So, none of my spaces can be smooth - they
> can be hybrids at best - from the moment that I make an intervention that
> will allow my extension, my avatar, to become the occupant of that
> particular location. Which is probably where the crux of the non-Cartesian
> space building challenge resides. So, yes, we see plenty of digital spaces
> that are non-Cartesian, especially in fields such as data-vis. But, at
> least all the examples that I can think of, are spaces that we observe or
> interact with from the outside, without actually occupying them. As soon as
> occupancy and all its related activity becomes a factor (and the avatar is
> of course an occupant in this sense) I think we forsake the purity of
> non-Cartesian space.
> Finally, digital natives: I really do not know about this Roger. I am not
> at all sure that digital natives are all that they are cracked up to be. I
> have been teaching design students for nigh on 25 years now, and of course
> increasingly over the past decade they have moved into the age group of
> digital natives. And, as far as I can see, there is no more of a
> generalization to be made among them than among people of our generation.
> Some are inquisitive and experimental and explore digital boundaries and
> resources to their limits - but then so do I, and so do quite a few others
> of my age group. Most however, will limit their digital nativity to posting
> photos on Instagram, sending stuff on whatsapp and downloading movies via
> Torrent - which we do as well, no?
> Again, apologies for such a long response. But, again, a long response to
> some very germane questions, so I hope it will not be taken amiss.
> On Tue, Jun 6, 2017 at 5:11 PM, roger malina <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> just wanted to pick up on your comment on how your mediterrranean rim
>> heritage resufaces in your on line work in second life and open sim
>> "I first became aware of this subliminal inspiration and how the visual
>> heritage of my beloved city seemed to work its way into what I built, when,
>> during my very early years in the metaverse, I was blogged about as a
>> Byzantine metaverse builder (
>> So how does one's cultural heritage translate into the culture we are
>> building on line ? Right now i am in Manizales Colombia for ISEA..how does
>> a metaverse built on line here differ from yours built
>> in Istanbul
>> And do 'born digital' indigenous natives develop other forms of on line
>> culture ?
>> I remember in the early days of Ars Electronica we used to joke on the jury
>> that so often the
>> work was 'signed' by the software and the persons own background barely
>> came through.
>> But then I remember work by Char Davies, or Paul Sermon, or Lynn
>> Hershman..or Eduardo Kac
>> which somehow synthesised the emerging on line and grounded cultures.
>> Also I remember being annoyed that space in simcity or second life was so
>> cartesian.. why couldnt
>> space be reinvented in on line culture in the way that Linda Henderson has
>> document in her book
>> of the 4th dimension in art and science ?
>> Last century I wrote on the stone age of digital culture...but where are
>> our cave paintings on line to be preserved for 50,000 years ? There is no
>> gravity in cyberspace..so why is cyberspace so 3d and Cartesian ?
>> Oliver grau chronicled the work of artists in immersive spaces from caves
>> to vr...does any one have good examples of totally new cultural heritage
>> forms in cyberspace ? Or are like the colonial powers imposing our
>> terrestrial culture on cyberspace ? Its time for the digital natives to
>> revolt like Caldas did here in colombia
>> Roger malina
>> Roger F Malina
>> is in Manizales, Colombia
>> 1-5108532007 or whatsapp
>> blog: malina.diatrope.com
>> roger malina
>> is in paris
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Independent Producer and Researcher
On The Edge Research archive https://openair.rgu.ac.uk/handle/10059/2017
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