Like a Whales Song? Decolonising Indigenous Design Futures

A talk featuring Tristan Schultz of Relative Creative


This paper takes as its central premise that the technological colonization of imagination is ontologically designing human extinction. It grounds this premise in strong critical arguments that this threat has gathered as a result of modernity/coloniality and is now imminent. But before human extinction is unrecognizably complete, plural cultures will rapidly homogenise because of the industrialization of memory through socio-communicative digital technologies, setting in place the ontological elimination design of abilities to imagine being otherwise. This has already occurred through geographical and epistemological colonization, and will now continue through techno-ontological colonization; Ontologies were deterritorialised physically, then epistemologically assimilated and will now be ontologically deterritorialised through techno-mediated technologies emanating from one world, one language, one ontology. Resistance to technological colonization of imagination is not sufficiently comprehending the urgency and complexity of this. It is too focused on the state as struggle, when actually technomediated onto-political designing is more powerful is more bound-less, more state-less. There is a technological revolution underway no smaller than the Enlightenment. It is disguised as a cultural revolution, only humans are being left out by the industrialization and eradication of plural memory and imagination, moving first through administrative spheres and then onto cultural spheres, homogenising ontologies of  ‘what’ and ‘who’ ‘we’ are along the way. It is driven by neoliberalism; by development, economic growth and colonialism. Neoliberalism is technodeteministic because capital is increased with more data, which erodes cultures. That same capital is the thing erodes culture as economics makes people treat life instrumentally as transactions, increasingly technologically dependent, undermining autonomy and education from within this paradigm erodes culture as it erodes peoples ability to think critically and autonomously outside its bounds. A compounding effect since this is a necessary attribute to imagine otherwise in an increasingly complex world.

This paper takes as its second central premise that as much as resistance may seem futile, being nihilistic about this future trajectory is too. Therefore a political activation of relationality, in contrast to Cartesian dualism, is urgently required for human survival. Decoloniality and Border Thinking is required to recode resistance, to become epistemologically disobedient and amplify freedom and autonomy for plural worlds. The imperative is to, 1) find a common belief-in-difference, where being human becomes a political parameter, since it cannot be a given. 2) Develop a psychological resilience to unsettlement while the work of, 3) recouping the fragments of memory scattered from coloniality before it become industrialised by neo-techno coloniality gets underway. 4) amplify freedom through an uncoupling of technological dependence that delimits the power to be autonomous and 5) develop structures of care.

This paper takes as its third central premise that mapping practices can contribute to this both at modes of contribution to ‘how’ to imagine differently while avoiding colonial traps and what to imagine differently beyond technological colonization of imagination.