Emergence is a youth-led multi-disciplinary exploration of the impact rising sea levels are having on our ocean-bound communities, and the responses—intellectual, emotional, physical—that are emerging out of this crisis. This project is driven by a core team of youth and adult artists working in multiple disciplines (media arts, visual arts, theatre, sound), and in collaboration with three media arts companies (DigiMajou, Indigenous City Media, IM4 Lab).
Emergence is a partnership project between shíshálh Nation members and Deer Crossing the Art Farm Society to enliven an ancient story of human and nature’s resilience, from mountains to oceans, shared by shíshálh elder, Hiwus Calvin Craigan. The enlivening of The Four Braves story provides I-STEAM (Indigenized Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Media) opportunities for the shíshálh Nation to participate in developing and presenting a live, interactive performance for families, school districts and communities in B.C.
For the first phase of the Emergence Project, participating youth had the opportunity to work with professional media artist Joah Lui of Digi Majou productions as she documented the 2018 Rainforest Circus Submerged with regular and 360-degree cameras. After filming of theSunshine Coast shows, the group reviewed and edited the footage they shot during their first intensive. In addition to the media training, participating youth took part in several workshops that focused on indigenous knowledge and world view (with the support of local indigenous artist Kamala Todd and knowledge carriers) and volunteered at 2018 V/R A/R Conference in Vancouver.
Concept Development and Design
Working with installation, media and sound artists Rob Studer, Sandy Buck, Westerly Henry and Joah Lui, the youth team developed two concepts for the Emergence Project. One of which is a sea-shell shaped dome theatre to project 360-degree footage and explore soundscapes to enhance the experience. The second creative project the group envisioned was an interactive sea floor scape with electronic components that would light up and make sounds as the user engaged with it. The youth group divided into two groups that would focus on one of these two art pieces.
Construction and First Public Engagement
The group gathered again for their second intensive week working with local mentors to construct the two projects. The mentors had created a design for the dome and the youth made the first 3D model and then began the construction of the full-sized dome out of recycled lumber wrap. Meanwhile the second group built the base of their interactive sea floor exhibitand began exploring with the conductive tape, paint, and buttons that were linked to sound and light boards. Students interested in exploring the sound component mentored with sound artist Westerly Henry to design the perfect soundscape to accompany both the exhibits. At the end of the intensive they opened their doors to their workshop for the first public engagements with the Emergence pieces at the Roberts Creek Hall.
Test Engagements at Davis Bay Elementary School
After refining and augmenting the first iteration, the group reconvened to transform the installations into a theatrical event to be shared in local elementary schools. Working with theatre artist Chad Hershler and the rest of the artist team, the youth devised a “show flow” for class groups to experience. The outcomes were then presented to two class groups to explore and engage with the artistic experience, with a feedback session to follow for further development to come.
Emergence Project is an artistic production that explores the shíshálh swiya and the Four Braves Story shared by Hiwus Calvin Craigan through arts, media & technology. Artists with Deer Crossing the Art Farm has been partnering with Hiwus Calvin Craigan since Spring 2018 to share and enliven Hiwus’ story of The Four Braves with shíshálh nation members and students and families of the Sunshine Coast.
Synopsis of The Four Braves
The Four Braves is a little-known origin story of the shíshálh people and is carried by Elder Hiwus Calvin Craigan. In the beginning of the world, alongside the steep-canyoned waters of Leg-o-Main/Jervis Inlet, the ancestors of the shíshálh prospered here having been dropped from the stars. Guided by a Council of Chiefs and Healers, a group of brave youth struggle to help their people avert a human & environmental disaster. The Braves eventually discover a region of great abundance by land and ocean, Kapilin / Pender Harbour/ Howe Sound. The story tell of a powerful, mystical journey from human to wèwekw’-nách-em / wolf to stalashen / orca.
In February of 2020, Dionne Paul guided us with understanding protocols and doing consultations in the shíshálh Nation. Together we met with Protector of Cul- ture, Steven Feschuk, and 2 groups of shíshálh Elders in the Elders Boardroom to present our vision for a future show that would bring an interactive live action game journey to Elementary schools on the Sunshine Coast and beyond.
We are grateful for the time Steven spent with us, including his feedback that in the past, some of the non-profits dropped the ball which jeopardized future funding for the Nation. Also, that in the past some academics have taken credit for themselves what is shíshálh intellectual property by right and inheritance. As the Art Farm strives to do the work in our de-colonization journey, we are appreciative of this feedback. We will only bring new, and arts-based funding to the Nation and are committed to being transparent and acting with respect in these endeavours. We are working with and guided by shishalh members Hiwus Calvin Craigan, Dionne Paul and Candace Campo who are partners of the Emergence Project.
The Sea Dome
As one of the elements of bringing the Four Braves Story to life, Artists Robert Studer, Sandy Buck and Rolf Reynolds built a giant, inflatable Sea Dome. The Dome was designed to fit 30 children and adults inside – however, we will not use it in this way until we are able to do so safely in light of Covid-19. We are working creatively to be able to use it as an outdoor projection surface. The Sea Dome is made of un-recyclable lumber wrap we re-directed from the landfill.
De-Colonizing Media Workshops
This summer, xets’emits’a Candace Campo of Talaysay Tours and the Art Farm’s filmmaker/media artist Joah Lui offered workshops in Digital Filmmaking and Interactive Media Arts to youth and staff from the shíshálh Summer Youth Employment program. We thank the Shíshálh Nation Wellness Centre for involving us in this opportunity to work with shíshálh youth and staff.
Working at a Distance
Along with everyone and everything else in the world, our project had to pivot with COVID-19. We managed to form a few outdoors & safely-held Covid bubbles for some important art-making this strange year and the stranger times ahead. As we all stay close to home this winter and into 2021, we wanted to share our work/play with you and your families and invite you to participate in our Spring sessions which will be lands-based and physically-distanced as well as online through Zoom.
We are looking for youth and adults interested in doing lands-based and online workshops with us to further develop this story. Activities could include: filmmaking, digital art, crafting with circuitry, sound arts, theatre and more! We are excited to have Coral-Lee Joe-Louis working with us this fall/winter on illustrations and narrative elements of the project.
For more information or to give feedback contact Joah Lui
Thank you to our generous sponsors!