- Gesturing Indigenous Futurities Through the Remix
This article offers a spatial and gestural analysis of Vancouver-based multi-media art collective Skookum Sound System’s1 digital remixed2 video Ay I Oh Stomp (2012). Specifically, I will explore how this remixing intervenes in settler colonialism’s disappearances and erasures, to illustrate the ways the video (particularly its activations of dance, movement and gesture) mobilize ongoing Indigenous presencing into futurity. Inspired by Mar-abe (2015)’s writings on the “black imaginary,” I argue that Indigenous futurity decolonizes the Indigenous imaginary. Ay I Oh Stomp’s (2012) remixing creates a future imaginary attentive to the past as it critiques the present, and ventures forward into the beyond. I illustrate how the video, as it holds space within the collective imaginary, is a form of radical imagination tantamount to social change, expressing, as Mar-abe (2015) writes, the “unalienable right to be that radical, to create new worlds in the place of the ones that oppress us.” As I will describe within this article, the mechanisms through which we spatially and temporally gesture “otherwise,” that is—bodily embrace this map to tomorrow, comes out of a process of “jumping scale” (Harjo 2014). Gestures of futurity are choreographies of possibilities and hope—not residing so much in an unattainable dreamscape, but rather they are in constant figuration and reconfiguration all around us. I illuminate instances where futurity is activated or glyphed (Recollet 2014) through the decolonial gesturings3 of dancers and cultural producers’ visual/aural archiving. Indigenous motion, through glyphing, I suggest, produces maps to tomorrow as a result of mobilizing multiple geographical/territorial scales. By glyphing I am referring the ways that music, dances, and other forms of persistent Indigenous motion activate specific spatial/temporal cartographies in much the same way that pet-roglyphs activate Indigenous presence on land/ sky spaces. This work is rooted in the premise that we build a relationship with the land through activating it. What then, are the lexicons of land and territories, and how can we activate (re)mapping to explore the futuristic narrative of complex land histories?
I discuss the video as a remix that samples dance, movement and gestures that “jump scale” out of colonial cartographies through a series of activations. As a form of discourse, the remix acts as a cultural binder bringing elements together beyond music. It relies on the relentless combination of all things possible (Navas 2012), and therefore is an intriguing conduit to house future imaginary relationships to space/time and territory. The remix itself, according to Navas, has no form but is [End Page 91] quick to take on any shape and medium. Navas states that the remix is meta-always unoriginal, at the same time, when implemented effectively, it can become a tool of autonomy (Navas 2012, 4). I would suggest that the technologies of remix actually illuminate the scales that are already present, including the intentionality of presence that had yet to fully come to light. The multilayers activated in Ay I Oh Stomp mirrors a collective form of futurity-building through inviting others into the frame. The remix is generative in that it creates in-between time, as the space of futurity. The remix activates Indigenous futurities in these creases, in this between time (the slipstream to illuminate the multiverse)4 through the technologies of polychromatic shifting, popping, repetition and looping- to enter into the slipstream (Dillon 2012).
Ay I Oh Stomp routes and roots Indigenous bodies to territories (including cosmologies) with total access to the futuristic spatial cartographies and geographical scales that have been denied to us through the destructive processes of settler colonial intrusions. I share, too, how I have come to experience another form of remix from my positioning as an urban Cree Indigenous person living within and jogging through the multi-versed worlds of Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe in their territory that is known as the ‘dish with one spoon’ territory.5 In these ways, this essay centers the choreographic fugitivity produced by these various Indigenous forms of remixing which manifest the future and, at the same time, critique the persistent structures of settler colonialism.6
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