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Anishinaabe artist's new VR experience takes an Indigenous futurist look at Toronto

Anishinaabe artist's new VR experience takes an Indigenous futurist look at Toronto
From CBC - April 16, 2018

A Canadian artist's new virtual reality experience rooted in Indigenous futurism will premiereat the TribecaFilm Festival in New York next week.

Biidaaban: First Light, an interactive, room-scale VR workby award-winning Anishinaabe director Lisa Jackson, takes place in a future version of Toronto that has been reclaimed by nature.

Nathan Phillips Square has plant life bursting through the concrete and the sky is blanketed by stars unobstructed by light pollutiona drastically different look for Canada's largest urban centre.

"A simple idea within the realm of Indigenous futurism is the idea that anything that's Indigenous is often seen to be in the past, so can we imagine a future where Indigenous understandings are guiding us in some way?" saidJackson.

There is no English speaking in Biidaaban: First Light;instead the traditional languages of the area Wendat, Mohawk and Ojibway are heard and translated through text. As the viewer's gaze passes over the text, the story is driven forward.

Languages growing like plants

In Biidaaban: First Light,Indigenous languages provide a framework for understanding our place in a reconciled version of Canada's largest urban environment.

"These languages grow on this land in the same way that plants do. The languages have been spoken here for thousands of years;they capture this land more than any other languages," saidJackson.

Biidaaban is the Anishinaabemowin word for dawn, but more specifically the moment of the first light of dawn. It's a particular moment where the feeling of night is still there, yet the new day is coming.

"We all know that feeling of that very first light and the sense that anything's possible," saidJackson.

Creating space for audiences

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