Aniskomiw series

A digital collage series by Jude Norris aka Tatakwan.

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Aniskomiw series


The Response-Hive City
"liberty village 1 - Spirits of a Good Life" photo-based digital collage by Plains Cree Nation artist Jude Tatakwan Norris
This interactive web-based artwork is part of the Aniskomiw series.
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The Response-Hive City


Click here to purchase a Response-Hive City artwork print
but please view the online artwork first here



about the Aniskomiw Series
I have been working on this photo-based digital collage series for the last 3 years.
Aniskomiw means ‘Connected’ in Plains Cree.

Like much of my previous work, this series is founded on issues, perceptions and teachings embedded in Indigenous culture and prophesies, and how they play out in contemporary Western culture.
The Aniskomiw cityscapes explore what is unfolding for us in this crucial time in human history.

We are immersing ourselves deeper and deeper into technologically created non-physical realities.
At the same time, we have stepped into the time spoken of in numerous Indigenous prophesies.

The White Buffalo Calf Woman has reappeared and we are at the end of one cycle of the Mayan calendar and the beginning of another. All signal the start of a Spirit-based era, an uplift of human conciousness. We are becoming more and more aware that it is up to us all to create a sustainable world. It is time for the Eagle and the Condor to fly together in partnership again, representing a re-balancing of masculine and feminine energies. Yet we still have challenges to experience and major choices and shifts to make in reaching that reconnected place.

The Past, Present & Possible City
In Aniskomiw, the urban center is the setting to explore how our relationships to the environment, community, time, history, technology, the spirit-world, ourselves, our ancestors & future generations are created and actualized.

These cityscapes reflect on how human needs, desires and intentions, both healthy and destructive, are manifest through the creation and forms of our societies, cultures, villages and cities, real and imagined, past, present and future.

People have always gathered in concentrated numbers in particular places for commerce, community, shelter and self-expression. The Aniskomiw series explores the realities, impacts, implications and possibilities of culture and physical and spiritual human development as they are expressed in and through our urban environments.

The Aniskomiw images enfold both positive & negative elements of present-day cities with visions and implications of future ones. In addition, they incorporate cultural elements from villages, cities and civilizations of the past.

These landscapes portray ‘possible cities’, involving potential situations, environments, components, cultures, beings, and moments in time, all based on existing ones. They grow out of distinct places and moments, and yet at the same time they are multi-dimensional and multi-locational.

A Multi-Dimensional Journey Beginning in the Here & Now
To facilitate the viewer’s journey, Aniskomiw starts with a foundation built on some distinct yet exemplary urban realities. The series is largely based in the most urban of North American settings, New York City. There are also some landscapes based in Toronto, including the Liberty Village images.

Being the largest urban centers in the USA and Canada respectively, New York and Toronto epitomize the Western City. They are also both situated on First Nations territories and once housed ancient and thriving communities of pre-colonial Indigenous people.

Based on the Here & Now but Created out of Always & Everywhere
The imagery for Aniskomiw begins with locations that I have photographed myself, and am very familiar with. They are well-known, and hold a universal relevance and familiarity. And yet they are very personal, and contain subjective and autobiographical elements and narratives.

Sometimes I merge together various angles or images of the same location to create a hyper-real one, sometimes I leave them as-is. Then the base landscapes are developed, altered, shifted, impacted, embellished and/or populated with collaged human, architectural, animal & mythological elements and characters. They also incorporate various types of language, symbols, art & signage.

These elements are gathered from a variety of eras, cultures and places. In the Aniskomiw environments, just as my elders taught me, all time exists at once, and unfolds and exists in a circular fashion. In these digitally woven visions, the parameters of earthly space are dramatically expanded.

Cities with an Indigenous Foundation
Like all my work, the Aniskomiw landscapes are created from a First Nations perspective on the relationships they portray or address. The stories that unfold within these environments are cross-cultural, yet informed by and founded on Indigenous paradigms. Our world view has been quite distinct from the Western societies that created these ‘base’ cities, and yet our long history, ancestors, culture and spirit permeates and is the land that they are built upon.

So within the multicultural landscape and history these urban landscapes portray, there is always an underlying Indigenous presence. At times it is obvious, at times peripheral, yet it is constant. Within these environments there is an ever present nod to the often unacknowledged yet absolutely foundational and central role of First Nations culture, people and history in what is now known as the Americas.

Hunting & Gathering in the Digital Realm during a Turning Point
I gathered most of the things collaged into the Aniskomiw environments from the world wide web (largely from wiki). This involved technologies and a journey that seemed fitting for the themes of the series.

The landscapes traverse time and distance, and yet are created now, at a point in time when we have embraced digital technologies and realities. At the same time, we have entered an era spoken of in numerous Indigenous prophecies as a being a crucial point in human spiritual evolution.

These prophesies exist in different Native cultures, but make a common call. They speak of a need to re/turn to an awareness and approach to life that are inherent in Native cultures. In order to survive, a respect for the earth and the sacredness of all life must be become embodied in contemporary culture.

I saw and approached my contemporary ‘web-gathering’ of the image elements for Aniskomiw with the spirit of traditional gathering of medicine and/or knowledge.

This kind of gathering more often than not involves a quest or journey informed by both knowledge and intuition. This intuition is often a precognitive energetic connection with what or who is being gathered.

This was certainly true in my gathering process. Most decisions about which elements to incorporate came largely from strong intuitive nudges. These nudges led me down numerous unexpected paths, often leading back to parallel and/or new levels of understanding around something I was familiar with or had hunches about. Other times I ended up in places completely new to me, and learned numerous fascinating things.

Creating Across Technology & Time with The 7 Generations in Mind
In the process of making the Aniskomiw landscapes, I feel in a certain sense that I truly am traveling around the world, amongst many cultures and technologies, as well as back and forth through time.

Aniskomiw is an expression of both the on and offline universe and a inquiry into where it does and doesn’t or can and can’t begin, end or merge. Its also an exploration of how contemporary technology does or doesn’t/can or can’t facilitate or support our spiritual growth.

I don’t consider web-surfing or online cultural or historical research or education equivalent to real-time, earthly experience or movement. Nor is it a replacement. But it can open doorways, expand awareness, and reap a ‘harvest’.

I consider the value in this kind of ether-gathering to be reliant in part on always keeping in mind that ‘it is what it is’. And in considering what it is, understanding what it’s potentials, pros and cons are.

This approach is in keeping with the values First Nations culture. Traditionally, we always approach our creation and use of technology, or anything else, with a deep consideration of how and why our ancestors did it, how it affects All Our Relations, and how it will impact the next seven generations.

Aniskomiw Extended in The Response-Hive City project
Response-Hive City is an interactive web-based artwork project that I was invited to create for the online exhibition called “History of the Future”, a project conceived by curators Jasmina Karabeg and Jennifer Pickering. Response-Hive City is a development of the Aniskomiw series. It is made up of four alternate realities based on the same ‘Liberty Village’ urban landscape. Each viewer experiences their own unique journey through Liberty Village, with the path unfolding in response to intuition-based choices.

Response-Hive City is the first completely web-based project I have created. I feel the web offers a platform that’s perfectly suited to the nature and presentation of this vein of my arts practice and my overall concerns as an artist.

In addition to other online advantages, I particularly love the way the Web allows for interactivity. This is an element I haven’t incorporated in such a fundamental way since my early performance art work.

This interactivity in Response-Hive City is potent in its symbolic and literal relationship to the themes of Anisomiw. It’s a wonderful reflection of the importance of personal and communal choice in the visualization, planning, creation, caretaking and sustaining of our natural and created environments.

Click here to experience the Response-Hive City.

Inter-Action from the Heart Brings Our Visions to Life
Just as heart-informed decisions are prerequisite to traveling through Liberty Village, they are so important to our spirit-walk on Earth. To my mind and heart, herein lies our ability to incorporate our pasts and presents into a balanced future.

As the White Buffalo Calf Woman taught us ~ “Make each step like a prayer”.

Join My List, Get A Free Artwork & Stay Updated on New Work
The Aniskomiw and Response-Hive City images will be available soon as archival quality giclee prints.
I am also currently working on another related project, a video-based animation with the working title “NY Tipi Project”.

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