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Black Movement in Digital Spaces: Part 2

Screenshot 2023-02-08 at 12.19.02 PM.png
Screenshot 2023-02-08 at 12.19.02 PM.png

October 29, 2022, 2:00 – 7:00pm

Recess 46 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205

Black Movement in Digital Spaces invites Black thinkers to collectively engage the key questions posed by artist LaJuné McMillian in her current Recess Session project Black Movement Pop Up Library which seeks to grow community through the use of performances, XR / VR experiences, workshops, conversations and tool making.

As a new media artist and creative technologist, LaJuné McMillian challenges the limitations of western technologies specifically in terms of how it may harm, isolate, place limitations on, and ignore the needs of Black people. This project centers the needs of Black folx and asks them to consider how they might operate in spaces not built for them--the same spaces built to control and surveil them. It asks if these tools can be reappropriated, and if so, what does that process look like?

Join us for a full day of programming featuring a mediation workshop and motion capture workshop, followed by a panel discussion and the unvieling of a new work by the artist. Full run-of-show below:

2-3 pm: Meditation with Jazmine Hayes

Through themes of spirituality, bonding rituals and transformation, Hayes conceptualizes safe spaces as a necessary strategy for passing on intergenerational imagery and narratives for a people whose histories are consistently erased, misrepresented and misinterpreted. This workshop will prepare participants to be in touch with their bodyminds and to imagine what kind of avatars and spaces that they may choose to inhabit in their imaginations, or to construct in virtual environments in the Motion Capture Workshops to follow.

3-4: Light Refreshments in the Gallery

4-5 pm: Understanding, Transforming, and Preserving Movement in Digital Spaces with LaJuné McMillian Part 2: Motion Capture

In this workshop participants will learn about Extended Reality tools in relationship to race, gender, and culture. We will collectively explore issues of cultural representation and exploitation through readings and discussions, while also providing an introduction to motion capture, rigging and 3D environments. Core elements of the workshop integrate performance, extended reality, and physical computing to question access, control and representation.

In this iteration, participants will be introduced to the inner workings of live-motion capture performance art. Using the Perception Neuron, a stand alone motion capture suit, and Unreal Engine, a software to create real-time visuals, participants will gain an introduction to the process behind Movement Portraits, and be invited to create their own.

No prior experience of programming or with these tools are needed. Participants will work in groups, and computers will be provided onsite. While recommended, participants do not need to attend the prior online Part 1 workshop to participate.

5-6 pm: Future Bodies: A Conversation between Ayo Tanimowo Okunseinde and LaJuné McMillian

Our bodies and movements do not only represent our individual experiences, but they also represent our collective memory, transcending space, time and oppressive social structures. They allow us to connect to each other, our ancestors, our deepest selves, and gives us space to communicate to our future. Our bodies and movements are technologies, holding the stories of our existence across the Diaspora. They hold our humanity. How can we build, curate, and caretake spaces that hold our bodies and stories with care? In this conversation, LaJuné will contemplate this question with artist Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde.

Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde is a Nigerian-American artist, designer, educator, and time-traveler living and working in New York. His works range from painting and speculative design to physically interactive works, wearable technology, and explorations of “Reclamation”. He is also the co-founder and Director of Iyapo Repository, a resource library that exists in a nondescript future that was founded to collect and preserve artifacts to ensure the history and legacy of people of African descent. Okunseinde is currently a Ph.D. student in Anthropology at The New School for Social Research, he holds an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design where he currently serves as Assistant Professor of Interaction and Media Design.

6.30-7 pm WIP Presentation of Rena Anakwe Movement Portrait & Closing remarks by LaJuné McMillian

Movement Portraits serve as a way to learn about the lives of performers contributing their movement data to the Black Movement Library. What happens when we ritualize the archival process of data collection, and invite the community as a witness? Using the Motion Capture and Unreal Engine, performers send their movement data to be translated into visuals in real-time. Over the course of development, interviews are recorded with each performer, learning their movement histories. Interviews are embedded into soundscapes that performers move to, allowing the audience to dive into their lives, and learn how Black movement has been used as a tool for the preservation of Black culture as well as a vehicle of self-evolution.

In this Presentation, McMillian will present a new portrait of Rena Anakwe as a live performance. Rena Anakwe (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist, performer, poet and healer working primarily with sound, visuals, and scent. Exploring intersections between traditional healing practices, spirituality and performance, she creates works focused on sensory-based, experiential interactions using creative technology.

The Black Movement Pop Up Library is part of Recess’s program, Session, which invites artists to use Recess’s public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Sessions remain open to the public from the first day of the artist's project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences. Due to the process-based nature of Session, projects undergo constant revision and the above proposal is subject to change.