This article explores the digitality of Indigenous bodies within contemporary 3D video games by mainstream and Indigenous developers. Its analysis relies on a critical examination of digital image synthesis via real-time graphics rendering, which algorithmically generates the visible world onscreen from 3D geometries by mapping textures, generating light and shadow, and simulating perceptual phenomena. At a time when physically based, unbiased rendering methods have made photorealistic styles and open-world structures common across AAA games in general, Indigenous game designers have instead employed simplified “low res” styles. Using bias as an interpretive model, this article unpacks how these designers critique mainstream rendering as a cultural-computational practice whose processes are encoded with cultural biases that frame the relation of player and screen body (avatar). The algorithmic production of digitally modeled bodies, as an essential but masked element of video games, offers a territory where Indigenous developers claim aesthetic presence in the medium.
Indigenous Algorithmic Embodiment in 3D Worlds
Joshua D. Miner
Censored Breastfeeding Selfies Reclaim Public Space
Mari E. Ramler
Breastfeeding mothers and their babies are simultaneously in the public sphere and hidden from public view. Although social media has the potential to normalize attitudes toward breastfeeding by increasing visibility, Facebook and Instagram maintain an unpredictable censorship policy toward “brelfies”—female breast selfies—which has undermined progress. Combining Iris Marion Young’s “undecidability” of the breasted experience with Brett Lunceford’s rhetoric of nakedness, this article investigates what breastfeeding mothers communicate online via digital images when they expose their breasts. By deconstructing controversial case studies, this article concludes that brelfies have increased breastfeeding’s accessibility and acceptability in the material world.
Elizabeth Jochum, Graeme Stout, and Brian Bergen-Aurand
Jennifer Rhee, The Robotic Imaginary: The Human and the Price of Dehumanized Labor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018). 240 pp., ISBN: 978151790298 (paperback, $27)
Soraya Murray, On Video Games: The Politics of Race, Gender and Space (New York: I. B. Tauris, 2018). xv + 315pp., ISBN: 9781786732507 (PDF eBook, $82.50)
Ari Larissa Heinrich, Chinese Surplus: Biopolitical Aesthetics and the Medically Commodified Body (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018). 264 pp., ISBN: 9780822370536 (paperback, $25.95)
This issue acknowledges the work of Rosalie Fish (Cowlitz), Jordan Marie Daniels (Lakota), and the many others who refuse to ignore the situation that has allowed thousands of Indigenous women and girls to be murdered or go missing across North America without the full intervention of law enforcement and other local authorities. As Rosalie Fish said in an interview regarding her activism on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG),
"I felt a little heavy at first just wearing the paint. And I think that was . . . like my ancestors letting me know . . . you need to take this seriously: “What you’re doing, you need to do well.” And I think that’s why I felt really heavy when I first put on my paint and when I tried to run with my paint at first. . . . I would say my personal strength comes from my grandmas, my mom, my great grandma, and I really hope that’s true, that I made them proud." (Inland Northwest Native News interview)
This Screen Shot section includes three texts—an interview and two articles—that, together, occasion an unsettling movement in the development of an Indigenous phenomenology staged upon Screen Bodies’ concern for the critical tryptic experience, perception, and display. Such phenomenology, moreover, takes shape in the spirit of an enduring and persistent Indigenous cosmopolitanism, one organized by an appeal to a pan-tribal solidarity that is also not shy about drawing from efficacious sources of critique internal to European critical traditions. Together, these texts—and the source materials that inspire them—build rich ecumenical perspectives in the service of decolonial justice and pedagogy. And while the texts included here are composed in English, each draws from and references Indigenous languages, articulating one kind of Indigenous cosmopolitanism that makes use of English as a kind of “trade language.” To stage an Indigenous phenomenology by appeal to an Indigenous cosmopolitanism, in our contemporary political moment, thus calls for critical attention attuned to the perspectives, traditions, and imaginations of what Tlingit poet and author Ernestine Hayes describes as “Indigenous intellectual authority.” In this spirit, Indigenous cosmopolitanism occasions a decolonial-critical cosmopolitanism rooted not in the secular, Habermasian cosmopolitanism of Europe but in the modalities of consciousness, the literary genius and acumen, of Indigenous oral literary traditions. In the context of such a cosmopolitanism in which everyone is variably situated, across the spectrum that divides descendants of perpetrators and victims of settler colonialism, the critical imperative becomes a decolonial one, and non-Indigenous readers are called to shed the epistemological, ontological, and political priorities that broadly characterize European analytical and continental traditions, whatever their internal debates may be. Such an imperative forces phenomenological attention not only on the macrological instantiations of settler-colonial power but also against the “micrological textures of power” that ultimately shape the inner contours of self and, thus, what becomes phenomenologically legible to individuals situated in their cultural contexts.
Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2014), written and directed by Mi’kmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby, is primarily presented as a residential school “revenge fantasy.” Some critics and reviewers of the film value it for its pedagogical possibilities, arguing that the film occasions opportunity for dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences about the legacies of the residential school system. Yet, numerous decolonial scholars and activists understand that dialogue alone cannot effect the quality of decolonial justice needed in the wake of genocide. This article approaches the film as a saturated phenomenon and examines the kinds of radical phenomenological transformation that must occur, especially among non-Indigenous audiences, for decolonial imperatives to become legible. Beyond developing a more comprehensive historical panorama of the violence and legacies of the residential school system, this article calls for a kind of translation of experience occasioned by the film, one that dramatically subverts and transforms modalities of consciousness on which coloniality is predicated.
An Interview with Ishmael Hope and Will Geiger on Tlingit House Screens and Indigenous Phenomenology
Sol Neely, Ishmael Hope, and Will Geiger
On a cold, snowy January night in Juneau, Alaska, Will Geiger and I convened at Ishmael Hope’s home—with his wife, Lily, and their five children—for dinner and cordiality in advance of our recording session. The Hope family is exceedingly generous with their time and knowledge, and, as is the case whenever we gather at the Hope home, one can palpably discern the multigenerational inspirations and relations that sustain their work, artistry, and community involvement. Once the children went to bed, we dimmed the lights and pulled out our books.
When the editors of Screen Bodies told me that the journal was interested in expanding notions of screen beyond cinema, I inquired about the possibility of interviewing Ishmael Hope and others on Tlingit house screens and, by a kind of phenomenological appeal, of focusing the conversation through a concern for embodiment. Originally, Ishmael and I invited Will Geiger and Forest Haven, a brilliant Tsimshian PhD candidate from University of California, Irvine, to participate, but Forest was unfortunately unable to attend. Over the years, I have worked closely with these three on a number of academic projects, developing a tight and trusted friendship sustained by mutual respect and interwoven eruditions.
Lorenzo Javier Torres Hortelano
In Antichrist (Lars Von Trier, 2009), the inverted story of a modern-day Adam (He) and Eve (She) and the death of their son, we witness the deep wound that von Trier himself suffered when his mother revealed to him a truth. He would later reveal this truth to the general public, and I follow the film’s own allusive structure by returning to this revelation only at the end of this report.
Non-Metropolitan Representations of Homosexuality in Three French Films
This article offers a reflection on the ways in which the representation of gays and lesbians in contemporary French cinema has mostly focused on specific and limiting traits. With their choice of locales (Paris and other cities) and bodily characteristics (young, fit), these films convey a restrictive view of homosexuality. Such portrayals have gained traction due to their numerous iterations in films and in the media. By focusing on the works of three directors who have adopted a radically different perspective in their portrayals of homosexuality, this article will highlight the close ties that exist between sexuality and topography. Providing a more true-to-life account of homosexuality, the films move away from cities to investigate the geographical margins. In so doing, they question the tenets of France’s republican ideals, where differences tend to be smoothed out in favor of unity and homogeneity. These films reinstate diversity and individuality at the heart of their narratives.
This article examines the quotations of Elizabeth I’s iconic portraiture as Virgin Queen in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), and their effect on our a posteriori conceptualization of the depicted body of the female sovereign. Using Mieke Bal’s concept of preposterous history, I argue that Kapur’s transposition of Virgin Queen iconography onto celluloid results in a “(complex) text” that “is both a material object and an effect” (1999: 14). Bal acknowledges that the complexity that lies in the material results of the artistic quotation is not necessarily subversive, as it is dependent on the quoting artist’s ideological premise. Indeed, Kapur’s intermedial quotation of Elizabethan portraiture imbues the highly complex body of the female ruler with contemporary heteronormative notions of female sexuality, thereby reducing it to an object for the male gaze.