Along the River of Spacetime is a virtual reality game about activating Anishinaabe knowledge to restore eco-systems.
Along the River of Spacetime is a virtual reality game which shares Anishinaabeg teachings relating to land practices, star knowledge, and quantum physics in an interactive non-linear journey about restoring rivers and their eco-systems by activating Anishinaabe constellations. Coded particle systems of light, hand drawn art brought into form with copper, and 360° film of riverways running through Nkwejong in Michigan are merged into technology-empowered storytelling. The work reflects the worldview passed on to me by mother Grace L. Dillon who coined the term “Indigenous futurisms”—our stories share science.
So, too, can our stories be shared through technology. My greatest hope is to show ways in which our ways of knowing can be experienced through design. Along the River of Spacetime does just this by embedding Anishinaabeg scientific teachings within user interactions. The leaps in the journey are activated with an Anishinaabe symbol which parallels a particle physicists theorize may relate to teleportation, recently recognized by the LHCb experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. As riverways are fully restored, Anishinaabeg teachings about spacetime unravel to the light of stars reflecting on waters to nourish medicinal plants.
Made Possible by the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship 2018
Launching June 2019
at Science Gallery Detroit
in Detroit, Michigan
Along the River of Spacetime will debut in the DEPTH Exhibition in a closed space with a cutout copper canoe which includes accessible seating for multiple people to simultaneously sit, relax, and experience the virtual reality game.
Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher who creates and studies Indigenous-led media such as games and comics. She is Anishinaabe from Baawaating with relations at Bay Mills Indian Community, Métis named for Elizabeth Morris, and settler-Irish. She is an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow.
Most recently, she designed and created art for Thunderbird Strike (2017), a lightning-searing side-scroller game which won Best Digital Media at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and Honour Water (2016), an Anishinaabe singing game for healing the water.