iN Arcade is the product of iNresidence, a new residency program where selected Indigenous artists explore intellectual and artistic expressions over a three month period supported by imagineNATIVE.
For the first iteration of iNresidence, imagineNATIVE partnered with Hand Eye Society and Initiatives for Indigenous Futures to host Santo Aveiro-Ojeda from September to November 2020 while they curated iN Arcade, an exhibition of Indigenous games and playful experiences on the iNdigital Space. Each game was accompanied by an artist talk between Santo and creators.
Cyberpunk is a genre commonly associated with rebellion, struggle, and resistance. However, underneath that veneer of progressivism are more oppressive elements common to the genre, particularly ableism, racism, sexism, and lack of class consciousness. Mainstream cyberpunk often conjures the symbol of the able-bodied white man that is adept at using advanced technology, frequently displaying modified body parts that are meant to enhance their physical power.
Cyberpunk is a genre that must be destroyed, but what can it be reconstructed into? In thinking about Indigenous Futurisms, combined with the centuries of global struggles shared by Indigenous peoples, it only makes sense to completely dismantle the cyberpunk lens into something distinctly Indigenous. Where “cyber” stands for advanced technologies and “punk” is a mode of resistance, Indigenous Cyberpunk seeks to combine Indigenous technology, ancestral and modern, with the call to employ this technology for healing and pushing back against colonialism.
Indigenous Cyberpunk is a wide spectrum of styles, expressions, and methods, reflective of the Indigenous experience. Elements such as electrical currents, internet, and other more common examples of technology are not mandatory in order to define Indigenous Cyberpunk, as it is sovereign and autonomous, acknowledging that Indigenous peoples have had complex systems and ways of approaching technology for thousands of years. The goal is to adapt cyberpunk to Indigenous needs and conventions, rather than the other way around.
Through selecting specific works that address varying facets of this definition of Indigenous Cyberpunk, we can look into worlds where Indigenous technology and Indigenous survival go hand in hand.