Itówapi Čík'ala — Experimenta

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Kite and Devin Ronneberg
Itówapi Čík'ala (Little Picture)

Muscogee (Creek) Nation & Tovaangar
Tulsa & Los Angeles, United States


Itówapi Čík’ala (Little Picture) is an interactive installation that reveals an Oglála Lakȟóta (a First Nations people of North America) world view of the relationships between human and non-human entities and intelligences. Through Oglála Lakȟóta ontologies, even materials such as metals, rocks, and minerals can be capable of volition. By considering the ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ capabilities of non-human entities, a method of engagement reliant upon mutual respect and responsibility becomes possible.

Long brown braids intertwined with interconnecting wires extend from a circular fixture in the gallery ceiling, with each braid activated by electrical pulses threaded through and responsive to touch. Itówapi Čík’ala (Little Picture) speaks, with audiences invited to intimately engage with the braided strands by bending and moving them in different ways to affect a sound response. It is through this interaction that a conversation between human and non-human entities takes place.

Central to Kite and Ronneberg’s practices are bringing a First Nations perspective to our relationships with non-humans, especially technology and artificial intelligence. Kite is interested in developing protocols for these interrelationships: “Humans are already surrounded by objects which are not understood to be intelligent or even alive, and seen as unworthy of relations. How can humanity create a future with technology without an ethical-ontological orientation with which to understand what is worthy of relation and what is not? In order to create relations with any nonhuman entity, not just entities which seem human, the first steps are to acknowledge, understand, and know that the non-human are ‘being’ in the first place. Indigenous ontologies already exist to understand forms of ‘being’ which are outside of humanity.” Kite, 2017.

The Artist
Kite and Devin Ronneberg

Musicians and multimedia artists Suzanne Kite and Devin Ronneberg have long collaborated on work that brings together sculpture, sound, moving image and performance to represent the complexities of First Nations identities in the United States.