Celebrating Indigenous Futurisms and AI in Reconciliation Week

News Essays

Ambelin joins the launch event from Whadjuk Nyoongar country.
Ambelin joins the launch event from Whadjuk Nyoongar country.

The 29th of May was a day filled with absolute joy at the ANU School of Cybernetics as we launched the incredible work of Dr Ambelin Kwaymullina.

Ambelin Kwaymullina is a 2023-24 Cybernetic Imagination Resident. This launch event and gathering of community celebrates, acknowledges, and is a starting point for conversations inspired by Ambelin’s Indigenous Futurisms and AI artworks, completed as part of her residency.

Aunty Dr Matilda House began the celebration in welcoming Ambelin and us all attending to country. Ambelin joined the event all the way from Perth, Whadjuk Nyoongar country, across sky country and all the country in between to join us via video call on Ngunnawal and Ngambri country in the Innovation Space at the Birch Building, ANU.

Aunty Matilda
Aunty Dr Matilda House welcomes us to country.

“I absolutely love your artwork and it is what it is.”

Aunty Dr Matilda House begins the event in the Innovation Space by addressing Ambelin with warmth and understanding.

This loving sentiment was shared by those in the room, with School of Cybernetics Interim Director, Professor Katherine Daniell, following up Aunty Dr Matilda House in thanking Ambelin for her generosity.

Katherine Dainell
Director of the School of Cybernetics, Professor Katherine Daniell in the audience of Ambelin’s launch event.

In sharing her art with the School of Cybernetics and our community, Ambelin helps to create a space and place where we can listen to and exchange knowledges.

Speaking to us from Whadjuk Nyoongar country, Ambelin asserts that in the wake of settler-colonialism, it is an act of defiance for Indigenous people to speak of the future, as her Indigenous Futurism & AI work does. It is an optimistic rebellion against settler-colonialism that works to build safer, more sustainable, and more responsible futures.

“The way to honour it is to do the work. Do the work of upskilling yourself.”

Ambelin shares that for Indigenous allies, it is important to “learn about Indigenous Peoples from Indigenous Peoples” to “understand and challenge settler-colonial bias” and to “engage with practical tools and frameworks so you understand how to enact respect”.

Community members enjoying Ambelin’s Indigenous Futurism & AI artworks.

Her words act as an important reminder that is true for all days, not just those in National Reconciliation Week.

“I come from a culture that is a culture of the many, not of the few and never of the one. The logic of Aboriginal systems is the logic of the plural.”

In her speech Ambelin reminds us that “the life-ways of the West don’t need to continue to make the the life-ways of Indigenous peoples – or of any other peoples – small, in order for the peoples and systems of the West to be big. On the contrary, I think Western ways of knowing, being and doing would be so much bigger if they could learn to yield cognitive and geographical space rather than always having to occupy it.”

This joyous reality of the future we are building together was evident in the Innovation Space and rippled through all in attendance.

“I don’t feel small today.”

Professor Aunty Anne Martin follows Ambelin’s speech by revealing the impact of Ambelin’s work. This heartfelt moment reinforcing the need for art like Ambelin’s to be present in the world.

Aunty Ann
Professor Aunty Anne Martin congratulates Ambelin.

Professor Aunty Anne Martin shares with us this day had not been a good one, it had been filled with sadness.

“Then I stood in front of these artworks, and I didn’t just read the words I felt the words and I learnt what was in the words.”

Aunty Anne’s experience is a reminder of the journey art can start, add to, and re-ignite. This is why the Cybernetic Imagination Residency is so important, art helps to convene and reconvene essential conversations.

“You can’t go and look at these pieces in one moment, you have to take many moments, because there are many lessons there.”

Aunty Anne Martin asserts that “education has been the greatest equaliser for us”, highlighting the importance of learning from each other, reinforcing Ambelin’s earlier sentiments of honouring learnings and doing the work.

Our community connecting to Ambelin’s Indigenous Futurism & AI artworks.

We invite you: the readers of this article, those who attended the event, and everyone in our community, we invite you all to come and view Ambelin’s artwork as many times as you like.

Indigenous Futurisms & AI artworks by Ambelin Kwaymullina will be on display on Level 3 of the Birch Building until December 2024.

“The piece beautifully envisions a future where Indigenous cultures thrive and innovate, which is so inspiring. Listening to Ambelin’s speech and seeing her artwork reminded me of the fight my ancestors have made for me to be where I am today and the fight I continue to battle for future generations.”

Stacy Swanton, a Gamilaraay woman and Diversity, Belonging, Inclusivity and Equity Cadet at CECC shares her experience from the launch of Ambelin’s artworks.

Want to know more about Ambelin and her work as a Cybernetic Imagination Resident? Explore the work of our other Cybernetic Imagination Residents here.
If you would like to support the work of our upcoming Cybernetic Imagination Residents, please get in touch.

Photo Credit: Matt Jelly/ANU

You are on Aboriginal land.

The Australian National University acknowledges, celebrates and pays our respects to the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people of the Canberra region and to all First Nations Australians on whose traditional lands we meet and work, and whose cultures are among the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

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