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Indians in Cyberspace
by Mike MacDonald

Who is
by Cheryl L'Hirondelle

First Nations in Cyberspace
by Mike Patterson home page

Feature: Who is

by Cheryl L'Hirondelle


Who is

Ultimately will be anyone who wants to register their site. At this point though, due to funding and time constraints it is based on my selection and knowledge of aboriginal and artists' sites I have researched over the past two years.

Okay, but what is it? is a intervention and an homage to aboriginal artists on the net. The site is based on the design of Artengine who also host the project on their server. Most of the code and images are theirs - the code copied using a browser or with More, then altered using Pico on my secured space on their server with images from their site downloaded and initially altered using some crackd software - then most recently through a residency at Centre for Art Tapes in Halifax NS.

Though the domain name was secured/purchased in the fall of 2003, was browser ready and presented originally in Dakar, Senegal at the Dakar Biennale, during Dakart_Lab in may of 2004.

So how about a little background as to why an homage to aboriginal artists on the net using what looks like appropriation of others ideas, images, code and design?

Firstly, I am grateful for all who have made a good path by the work that was launched into cyberspace before I came to situate myself or inhabit space in this domain and to the amazing work that is in process and is still to be realised. Secondly, is a project of ndnnrkey, a series of projects and performative activities investigating my interests and commitment to nêhiyawin (Cree worldview) based on values, roles and responsibilities and a relational existence with the natural laws and a less proprietary view of existing in proximity to beings and things; and correlations to that of anarchy, infiltration, intervention, open source, copyleft and piracy. With ndnnrkey, I have also been investigating different ways of relating to and interacting with audience/vidience through less prescribed and random forums and venues - the internet being an obvious choice.

To jump a bit - if an artist is creating something for the web to be accessible on peoples' computers, they have little control or licence over how that audience/vidience member is going to view or interact with it. The capability of browsers leads to many possibilities depending on how adept the user is. A relationship is being forged between the artist/designer/programmer and the audience/vidience that could lead to future collaborations and a stronger web if one can remain open to the fact that this domain is more flexible and endurable (and not isolating) if shared. To me, it is always a high honour if someone wants to riff off of what I am putting out there - it makes the communication of realised ideas and concepts more intrinsic and connected and less fragmented and abstract.

As aboriginal artists, our ability to find shelter, food and materials is mediated mostly via capitalism. While we may feel enslaved or co-opted by this experience, our ingenuity gives us the skills to succeed and know how to play this to our benefit. I think though to live relative of or to the capitalist and possibly imperialist practice of single author ownership and copyright, the patenting of everything from ideas to living organisms and all the man-made laws that enforce these binds also doesn't necessarily mean to be censored or immobilised in the process. From the standpoint of the sneakup, and as marginalized beings who continue to survive, we can infiltrate these systems, get what we need and retain our sense of sovereignty - but this requires us to question and even break rules.

It felt an important alternative and statement that I make a work directly from that of my contemporaries who continue to be a vital part of my inspiration and motivation, specifically not trying to set myself apart from this discourse by including my projects. In this way artinjun is really about a collected brilliance and ingenuity and poses questions such as - Who owns and/or receives copyright/permission for everything that inspires us moment to moment? Are we stealing, appropriating, using without permission or withholding credit by all that leaves an impression during our process, practice, daily rituals and travels? How can we somehow acknowledge and pay tribute to those that move us even in an act of piracy or infiltration?

artinjun in this way is an offering of gratitude to all my colleagues. Even the fact that I am seemingly appropriating Artengine's code and design is an homage to their existence - would I have thought the very idea for the site's name if they hadn't named theirs first? The fact Artengine offers server space (for a modest fee) made it much more the feasible concept/pun/infiltration that it is. Also, artinjun then is also a commentary on our continued relationship with the fort - or mistahêy waskahikan (big house). Since the arrival of Europeans, many of our ancestors chose to have a relationship with those who dwelt in the fort. I don't think the exchange was all one sided or colonizing - there have always been survival techniques, materials and ideas that have been stolen, shared, bartered and/or purchased. If one can see things and experience outside of the jurisdiction of imposed and limiting rules, then we can imagine new possibilities and innovation - and hence new, enhanced and even remembered ways of relating.

One last question: How will artinjun remain interactive?

My intent is that I will continue to develop the site so it is more aesthetically pleasing and efficient by adding features such as a comments section, a registration form so anyone can add their projects. I like collaborating and would welcome anyone who wants to assist me/work with me to accomplish this task ;-).

~shoutouts~ to all who have supported me in doing this work!

cheryl l'hirondelle, March 2005

Photo Credit: Shirley Moorhouse Biography

cheryl l'hirondelle (aka cheryl l'hirondelle waynohtew, cheryl koprek) is an alberta born but currently a vancouver based, halfbreed (metis/cree-non status/treaty, french, german, polish) multi/interdisciplinary artist. since the early 80's she has created, performed, collaborated and presented work in a variety of artistic disciplines: performance art, music (voice, percussion), theatre (actor/writer), performance poetry, storytelling, video and new media. since the early 90's she has also worked as an arts programmer, cultural strategist/activist, arts consultant and producer independently and within the national artist-run network, first nations bands and tribal councils, and government agencies (provincial & federal). she is currently developing performative physical endurance interventions and producing interactive projects (, still performs with her singing duo nikamok (with joseph naytowhow) and is teaching first nations and digital storytelling at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.

  Copyright © 2006 Urban Shaman Inc.
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