NDN WORLD INTERVIEW SERIES
TIM BLUEFLINT RAMEL
ELROY NATACHU JR
NDN World Virtual Reality Experience
NDN World is a virtual environment on the Vircadia 3D virtual reality (VR) platform. Think of it like a virtual world where participants can meet, view exhibits, publicly speak, engage, dance, and more! Most things you can do together in person, you can do in VR. You can explore in groups or alone. It's a world unto itself!
Why Virtual Reality
Unlike a conference call, Zoom call, or chat room, VR facilitates exchange of the full range of nuance in human communications. The way a participants cocks their head, the attitude in their movements, and even the gentle courtesies that appear when someone steps in the way of another person's view of a stage or work of art. In a Zoom meeting, you look at each other or a screen. In VR, each person looks wherever they're inclined. One person is admiring another's costume, while that person is watching someone dance, and their guest is still focused on a sculpture or keynote presentation. When they come together to collaborate, all of that freedom of movement and interaction produces a richer experience and permits relationships to deepen.
An Open, Creative Space
A virtual world founded by developers committed to removing artificial boundaries and fomenting freedom rather than control, permits users to dream and invent new things. It's naturally conducive to art, builders, crafts, performance, and exchange of ideas. Most people, moving around a constructed world for the first time ask, "What can I do?". After a while, that changes to, "What can I build or make?" For instance, the native costumes some of the 2020 participants are wearing were actually created by Native digital artists who took one look at NDN World and said, "I want to..." That's the culture we expect, in the best video games, the best work environments, and the best spaces for art and culture.
Venue for Things You Make
All the genres and media of art in the Native Market are represented in NDN World. From beadwork and quilt to costume, performance, and native dance. This is how tradition gets extended into contemporary environments, permeating not just the analog ecosystem but the digital as well, inspiring not just this culture or that culture, but culture wherever it occurs and in whatever form it emerges. The brilliance of VR as a method of delivery, imagined space, collaborative environment, performance venue, and creative medium is that those things exist together at once. In other words, it is possible to express the fullness of culture. Creative engagement is amplified by the potential of a virtually limitless creative space.
VIDEO: Thomas A. Teegarden, Chair of SWAIA's Board of Directors comments after blessing by Governor Brian Vallo, Acoma Pueblo
Leadership and Contribution
A stage can be a lot of things—a place for performance, for learning, for demonstration—sometimes even for personal glorification. SWAIA is using the stage in NDN World to continue its mission of introducing the world to native art and artists and, to put a sharper point on it, to call for expanded opportunities especially around connectivity and access for indigenous peoples. So it's not just appropriate but perhaps poetic that the first event launched on Vircadia's VR platform would be the Indian Market, and specifically the 2020 Indian Market at a time of unprecedented questions and dialogue around the value of human beings, who the economy serves, and the collective health and wellbeing of everyone.