TimeTraveller™ News

Posted on January 14, 2009, 5:34 pm, by skawennati, under Uncategorized.

Sometimes it is painful to write about your own art. The thought of revealing to the world your flawed decision-making processes or your inability to truly articulate your meaning or your doubts about your skills… it’s all so daunting. On the other hand, it is such a burden to remember everything, like why you made this or that choice, that writing it all down actually brings clarity. This is why I am loving the opportunity to write about TimeTraveller™. I want an account of this project; one that tells its history to date and the story as it unfolds, its “making of”. Additionally, a few recent developments have got me rarin’ to get this show on the road, so I think things will be moving quickly and that means more decisions, and more to write about!

For those of you who don’t already know, TimeTraveller™ is a machinima project that I am developing under the umbrella of AbTeC and SKINS. TimeTraveller™ tells the story of Hunter, an angry young Mohawk living in the 22nd Century. He’s got all these traditional skills, but can’t get a decent job, and that pisses him off. In his quest for a new direction, he turns to the virtual world of historical recreation –thanks to a very popular device called the TimeTraveller™ — where he hopes to find some answers.

Some History

In 2001, I created “Imagining Indians in the 25th Century“. It’s a webwork that takes two traditionally “feminine” pastimes — play with paper dolls and journaling — for its form. As soon as the piece was completed I wanted to create the “male” version. I got my chance almost immediately. I was commissioned for an interesting exhibition at the Art Gallery of Calgary called “Storybook Story” curated by Luanne Martineau. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an official link for this exhibition, but there’s a quote from Fred Wah, one of the four participating artist-writers, about it on the following blog. He wrote:

The text is meant to resonate with the weekly installments of three other writers involved in the same project (Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew, and Rosemary Nixon). All of our texts were written in response to two panorama renderings of the Minnesota Massacre of 1862 from the Glenbow Museum’s permanent collection. …. I’ve used parts of their texts in my own, as well as some text from Snow Crash by Neal Stephanson.”

Reading this today, more than seven years later, I am mainly struck by that fact that both Fred Wah and I referenced Snow Crash in our texts! Yes, my texts, called “Raven Stories,” imagined the Minnesota Massacre and other conflicts involving First Nations from the point of view of Raven, the bad guy from Stephenson’s awesome novel. About three years later, with the encouragement of the Banff New Media Institute, I developed these texts into a script. Raven morphed into Hunter, a Mohawk who, among other differences, did not have “Poor Impulse Control” tattooed on his forehead. I also began to delineate how the piece would be the “brother” of “Imagining Indians…”. It would look like a First-Person Shooter, i.e. with 3D animation, lots of use of the first-person point of view, and some cool futuristic graphics, including a HUD. Fastforward to 2006: I discover Second Life, and realize that this extremely customizeable 3D chat space would make the perfect medium for TimeTraveller™. It even had teleporting to simulate moving to different eras! It was also around that time that I learned the word “machinima”. TimeTraveller™ is going to be a series of short movies shot in Second Life. This is what I’ve been working on for the past two years.

During this time, I’ve been getting a lot of support. AbTeC Research Assistant Bea Parsons has been with me from the beginning, figuring out how to create or otherwise procure skins (casting), clothing (wardrobe), weapons and jetpacks (props) and buildings, roads, and furnishings (sets) –among other things! We’ve had fantastic graphic design help from Lysanne Bellmare, Raed Moussa, and Walter Scott. And this fall, Mohannad Al-Khatib, Cassandra Lacombe, and Nancy Elizabeth Townsend joined the team, adding their very welcome 3D skills to the mix.

The plan is to shoot the first episode, 2121 at the end of January. That is just two weeks away! I’ll keep you posted… ;)

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