"Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?" 2021
Born 1980, Toronto, Canada. Lives and works in Toronto, Canada and Berlin, Germany.
Born 1988, Regensburg, Germany. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
"Piña, Why Is the Sky Blue?" 2017
video installation with open sound, VR headsets, 3-D printing on woven piña fabric, pillows
Video: 28:00 minutes, VR: 16:00 minutes
Courtesy of the artists, ChertLüdde, Berlin
Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser’s multimedia installation Piña, Why Is the Sky Blue? enters the world of Piña, a digital repository that has gained consciousness through machine learning. Piña has acquired knowledge through uploads from Ecuadorian and Filipino knowledge-keepers including: members of Cyber Amazonas—a pan-Amazon community using technology to circulate Indigenous knowledges; Alba Pavón, an Afro-Ecuadorian community leader and healer; and Janet Dolera, a Filipina babaylan, spirit medium and healer.
The central character Piña derives its name from the Spanish word for pineapple, introduced to the Philippines from South America by Spanish colonists. In the Philippines, the piña fibre produced by the pineapple leaves is used in lustrous cloth known as nipis. In the duo’s installation, Piña is the embodiment of cross-cultural exchanges between South America (where Speiser has ancestry in Ecuador), and the Philippines (where Comilang’s family reside). The accompanying digital drawings are based on traditional Filipino and Ecuadorian weavings, which are then printed on the piña cloth. These drawings reference neutral network patterns used in machine learning and appear in the film as the image of the knowledge systems in the AI (Artificial Intelligence) repository.
Piña, Why Is the Sky Blue? narrates the archive of colonial erasure of Indigenous knowledge systems through a techno-feminist lens. Piña becomes a vessel to a future based in enduring matrilineal power, where knowledge is stored, safeguarded and transmitted for future generations.