Paisley Smith
April 4, 2017
Interactive Fund Recipient 2017

Project Name: Unceded Territories VR

Unceded Territories VR is a provocative interactive experience that harnesses virtual reality and the power of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun’s artistic practice. UTVR confronts audiences with the impact of colonialism on the natural environment. The user is immersed in a beautiful natural forest where they are interrupted by greedy colonialist Super-Predators, who begin to oppressively change the natural environment. What emerges is a world that is both entertaining and political, made entirely out of Yuxweluptun’s bold, pop, surrealist style. Yuxweluptun’s art activism reflects the struggle between the beauty of his artistry, and the harsh realities of deforestation, poisoned waters, dead fish, and spilled oil so that VR users are forced to question their own role in the real world, and recognize the need for change.

Smith, who has been working in VR’s recent “Renaissance”, was astonished to discover that Yuxweluptun had created a pioneering VR work at the Banff Centre in 1992, and is the first indigenous artist to work in cyberspace. Inspired by Yuxweluptun’s pioneering work at the Museum of Anthropology and his retrospective exhibition “Unceded Territories" in Spring 2016, Paisley decided to build a new Virtual Reality experience harnessing the power of art, and virtual reality as a tangible cultural force.

Unceded Territories Virtual Reality desires an empowered future, and acts as a call to action socially, politically, and environmentally. Society is in the midst of a cultural and spiritual shift, from which UTVR has emerged. UTVR speaks to both the historical and contemporary experience of the Canadian indigenous experience, and inspire others to come forward and transcend their personal challenges as Yuxweluptun has done himself.

Unceded Territories VR works with local sound designers, musicians, producers, graphic artists, programmers, environmental and texture artists, designers, modelers, riggers, and animators. Smith is joined by Canadian producer Stephanie Rennie, who draws upon her experience in film production and passion for contemporary Canadian art, in bringing UTVR to life.

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