Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun & Paisley Smith

Unceded Territories, 2019

VR experience for Oculus Rift

Unceded Territories is an interactive VR experience where the audience creates a colourful natural world made up of acclaimed First Nations artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun’s iconic pop- surrealist art style. Through infectious interaction, the participant creates a beautiful, natural paradise. They experience freedom and joy and the satisfaction of control over this land. A Tribe Called Red provides the powerful music for the piece. Spirit Bear warns the participant of their parlous role in this new world. But it is too late. They are performing colonialism, draining the world of its resources. As the pulse of this world beats faster, they are increasingly faced with their lack of control. The wheel of environmental destruction has been set in motion. Evil Colonial Snake emerges, leaving a trail of bones behind him, and devours the audience in one gulp. Inside the psychedelic belly of Colonialist Snake the participant is faced to see the environmental chaos they have created.




Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun is an advocate for contemporary indigenous issues in Canada. This is evidenced by his exhibition history and reception of awards, such as the Vancouver Institute for the Visual Arts (VIVA) award in 1998. Especially relevant to his practice are the elements of Coast Salish cosmology, Northwest Coast Design and the Western Landscape Tradition. Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, of Coast Salish descent, graduated from the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in British Columbia. Yuxweluptun is Salish for “man of many masks,” a name given to the artist during his initiation into the Sxwaixwe Society at the age of fourteen. Yuxweluptun’s political roots can be traced back to childhood. His father was founder of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and Vice President of the North American Native Brotherhood. His mother was Executive Director of the Indian Homemakers Association of British Columbia. With his parents as role models, Yuxweluptun was involved in Native politicization, attending meetings, demonstrations, and mailing out copies of The Native Voice, the province’s first Native newspaper. Yuxweluptun has chosen art as a way to voice his political concerns, exposing environmental destruction and the struggle of Native people. He believes that his artwork stimulates dialogue between Native and non-Native people.


Paisley Smith is a Canadian filmmaker & virtual reality creator based in Los Angeles. She is the creator of Homestay, an interactive VR documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada Interactive, with Jam3. Homestay is the winner of “Best XR (Mixed reality) for Change” at the 2019 Games for Change Festival. Smith is the recipient of the 2018 Sundance Institute and Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Fellowship for her VR experience, Unceded Territories, a collaboration with acclaimed artist and Virtual Reality pioneer Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, with support from Creative B.C. Unceded Territories had its World Premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at Tribeca Immersive. Smith holds an MFA from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, which she attended on a Fulbright scholarship. She received her Bachelor of Arts Honours in Film and Media Studies and Art History from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

If you are interested in exhibiting or viewing this artistic VR experience, please send an email to us.