Abstract- Dialogue- Assimilation- Subversion: Contemporary New Media Native Art in Canada
How is Western technology incorporated in the artistic discourse of non Western cultures? In 1992, BC Native artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun presented a virtual reality installation Inherent Rights, Vision Rights at the collective exhibition Land, Spirit, Power held at the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa. The piece consisted of an electronic mask and an electronic-motion hand and was aimed at introducing the viewer to the artist's religious practices. Yuxweluptun is only one well known example of Native artists' interest in new media technologies. Increasing access to new media, such as video, internet virtual reality environments or DVD, has encouraged contemporary Native artists' reflection on the way new media technologies can be used to negotiate their cultural heritage and their daily life experiences. Moreover, aboriginal uses of new media technologies may challenge hegemonic uses of new media by encouraging a much needed reflection on the cultural and historical determinations inscribed in technological artifacts. The paper studies the work of Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew, Skawennati Tricia Fragnito and Cheryl L'Hirondelle, among others, whose on-line projects reveal different understandings of new media practices and discourses, which ultimately complicate hegemonic perceptions of what is generally referred to as "tradition", "Indigenous cultures" and "Western technology".