José Sherwood Gonzalez
Mesoamerican Futurism: Reimagining the Codex Fejérváry-Mayer
School of Digital Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University
Principal Supervisor: Prof. Toby Heys, School of Digital Arts, MMU
Second Supervisor: Dr. David Jackson, School of Digital Arts, MMU
External Supervisor: Dr. Ernesto Schwartz-Marin, University of Essex
This PhD research is situated across Visual Anthropology, Media, and Decolonial Studies to reimagine the Codex Fejérváry-Mayer, a Mesoamerican painted screenfold manuscript, currently held in the World Museum, Liverpool. This is approached through the formulation and deployment of a Mesoamerican Futurist framework through the emergent medium of Extended Reality (XR) as a storytelling technology. Led by Gloria Anzaldúa’s invitation to transform reality through Nepantla (an “Aztec” term for ‘in-between’ zones with the potential for transformation) (Anzaldúa, 1987; Anzaldua, 2015), this research harnesses the transformative capacity of Extended Reality (XR) storytelling to counteract hegemonic cultural worldviews, particularly those that devalue the cultural significance and contemporaneity of indigenous artefacts like the Codex, often concealed within Western museums (Escobar 2011). As a Mexican British artist researcher, my research practice involves searching for multimodal responses through which to respond to the Codex Fejérváry-Mayer, informed by a pluriversal approach to the historical, philosophical and spiritual content and materiality of the object. This includes experimenting with XR artworks through which to sense-make emerging futures and cultivate digitally-mediated experiences that explore the Codex as a museum object, the tensions between Mestizo and Indigenous cultures and strategies to extrapolate these unique visions into speculative futures (Loft, 2014; Dillon, 2016; Fricke, 2019; Velasquez, 2022). By framing the Codex as an expression of Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec trickster deity, the painted manuscript becomes an object of cultural resistance that defies narrative fixity and serves as a portal to speculative and transformative futures. In this sense, the Codex is applied as a ‘poisoned chalice’, a tool to interrogate the complex interplay between Mexican indigenous, afro and mestizo identities, and colonial Eurocentric, anthropocentric and extractivist paradigms (Sium et al., 2012; Tuck and Wayne Yang, 2012; Thambinathan and Kinsella, 2021; Hauskeller et al., 2022; Neurath, 2023). By envisioning innovative futures through Mesoamerican futurist narratives about the Codex Fejérváry-Mayer, this transdisciplinary study aims to transcend academic norms, fostering new ways to explore and appreciate the Codex within Mesoamerican cultures through immersive XR experiences.
and object oriented ontology.
Sherwood Gonzalez, J. ‘Future Storytelling with Shapeshifters: The Nahuales of Milpa Alta’ (2023) in Imagining Differently: Challenging Neoliberal Media Ecologies in Futures Visual Anthropology. RAI Royal Anthropological Film Festival, Bristol, UK
Sherwood González, J. (2022) ‘PORTFOLIO: Way(s) We Remember: Mexican Kinships, Intersubjective Storytelling, and Thinking and Feeling Through Comics.’ Anthropology & Aging, 43(2) pp. 79–101.
Sherwood Gonzalez, J. (2022) ‘Story of Mirrors: Together They Cross the Border.’ Trajectoria, 3. National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan.
Sherwood González, J. (2022) ‘Otherwise Comics.’ Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsights, July 28 https://culanth.org/fieldsights/otherwise-comics
Sherwood González, J. and Magnussen, A. (2021) ‘Story of Mirrors: One of Those Family Stories You Hear by José Sherwood González.’ Studies in comics, 12(1) pp. 109–114.
‘Breaking Tezcatlipoca’ AVA Award (2021) Multimodal Category, Commendation, Agenet Slow Conference 2021.