HAWAI‘I-FUTURES (b.2010) is a visionary digital land art project forging conceptual pathways toward cultural resurgence, food sovereignty, homebuilding, and land justice, rooted in the ocean-earth-island-cosmos reality of Hawai‘i.

Datamap: rain, wind, soil, native land divisions, and fisheries, Hawai‘i Nei.


︎︎︎ Hawai‘i-Futures Earth Model

(Moku Systems Framework for Ahupua‘a Recovery)

︎︎︎ Hawai‘i-Futures Codex

(Design Studio Curriculum Supplement)

︎︎︎ Hawai‘i-Futures Holodeck

(Mobile Community Studio, 2017-2020)


Hawai‘i Futures seeks to advance the ecologies of mind in which water plays a crucial role in human life, culture, and city making, and how in the future, these roles may be resumed in the form of a more total biocultural posture toward urbanism in Hawai‘i, and beyond. Hawai‘i-Futures leverages the success of indigenous knowledge of the built environment to transform urbanism into systems of nourishment and sustenance, or 'Āina (that which feeds). The project accomplishes this artfully and architecturally with two interventions: a conceptual digital earth model called the “Moku Systems Framework for Ahupua‘a Recovery” supplemented with a tangible activist-driven design curriculum supplement called the “Hawai‘i Futures Codex.” Hawai‘i Futures t blurs the lines between academic institution and community (undercommons). A third component active between 2017-2020 was the “Hawai ‘i Futures Holodeck,” a transformative physical-virtual platform for kuleana and spatial literacy at the intersection of new media, public art, and Indigenous intellect.

At the core of Hawai‘i-Futures is a videographic, open-source, revolutionary 3D new media mock-compendium of alternative design concepts focused on implementing Native futures in the built enfironment that aim to repair the physical damage caused to the Hawaiian Islands by fragmented systems of agriculture, military,  tourism, urbanism, and other Settler paradigms.


The intent of Hawai‘i-Futures is to frame alternative views of applied moku and ahupua‘a concepts through the lens of contemporary architecture, urbanism, and design.  The goal is to uncover more innovative approaches for the future of urbanism in Hawai‘i, one that is designed to reclaim the island’s soils, watersheds, and sacred sites as a more necessary consideration in the politics, economy, and everyday life of the built environment. This topic is of timely importance as people and governments around the world responding to climate change seek innovations to make cities more resilient and delightful.

Hawai‘i-Futures champions 'Āina as a proactive measure to enhance wellbeing in our built environment. As a public art project, Hawai‘i-Futures presents an introduction for innovative concepts that propel the discourse of 'Āina as both a built environment and a living system of sustenance,  forward. The term “recovery,” to describe 'Āina work, is used over the term “restoration” to express a nuanced understanding of the process not as a return to the past but as a contemporary futurist process of reclaiming lost, stolen, erased, corrupted, or destroyed land, water, and other island resources essential to the native bioculture. “Agromilitourization,” a term coined by the artist for Hawai‘i Futures, is a portmanteau of agriculture, “militourism”—a concept by Teresia Teaiwa describing her initial encounter with Honolulu—and urbanization, used to identify the specific forces shaping the built environment of the Hawaiian Islands in promotion of US urbanism—a dynamic system of settler colonialism that continues to impose ecological devastation upon the occupied Native territories of the United States while perpetuating racial injustices against Native people.


Since it’s humble launch in 2010, Hawai‘i-Futures has accumulated global influence in thinking about the built environment through the lens Hawai‘i, and has been utilized in various curriculum in educational institutions both in Hawai‘i and nationally, most notably in graduate programs of architecture, landscape architecture, and planning at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Columbia University, and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, emphasizing the global relevance of the future wellbeing of built environments in Hawai‘i, the Pacific, and beyond.

Artist Driven

Hawai‘i-Futures embodies a concept of digital land art to merge the domains of technology, cartography, and artistic representation to communicate a profound sense of culture, place, and identity. The utilization of animated cartographies derived from 3D models of earth systems and terrain are more than mere visualizations of data; they represent a transformational intersection of the aesthetic, biocultural, and indigenous intellect. Each animated contour is not just an image of land, but a navigation of cultural resurgence, food sovereignty, homebuilding, and land justice.

The relevance of these digital models lies in their ability to portray the land in a uniquely dynamic multidimensional manner, condensing fluid geological, ecological, and biocultural layers into a clear new media narrative. These digital landscapes, rich with the complexity and dynamism of life in Hawai‘i, serve as evocative platforms to reimagine our relationship with the land. They form an innovative conduit between the artistry of visual representation and the power of spatial knowledge, cultivating a deep appreciation for the intricate connections that constitute our world and fostering an enduring commitment to cultures of care and wellbeing.

Connelly, Sean. (2010) HAWAI‘I-FUTURES Interventions for Island Urbanism.
New Media, After Oceanic. www.hawaii-futures.com.


A Digital Land Art Project By Sean Connelly
Produced by Afteroceanic, Inc.
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