Articles, Blog

Eyebeam ACCESS Residency Showcase 2019

November 8, 2019


Thanks for being here it’s been a party
in this room since about 4:30pm. Everyone so excited to bring help together to share
their work. It was hard to get you all away from the bar which is great so keep
you know refill your drinks feel free to get up you know, stretch, look around, make
yourselves comfortable. My name is Sally Szwed, I’m the Artistic
Director here at Eyebeam. Before we get started I just wanted to share a bit of
housekeeping information so as you can see we have some cameras around us we’re
live streaming tonight – for archival purposes and also everybody’s access
our program our wonderful photographer Christine will be roaming about as well
so that being said, that if you don’t want to be a camera you can just let myself or any
of my wonderful colleagues know if any Eyebeam folks can just raise their hands you
know you don’t want to be around just or just tell Christine just give us the shout. So all gender restrooms are located behind me and down the hall to your left.
We have cart transcription tonight as well that’s to increase
access to this event and before please don’t hesitate to get up
grab some water or wine throughout the event as well. So you’re all here to
celebrate the culmination of our 2019 residency program and the five amazing
individuals we will be hearing from shortly but first I just thought it
might be helpful to take a step back a bit and briefly share some notes from
our original open call on the theme of access as I think it provides some
interest some important framework for tonight.
So back in spring 2018 we released our open call for 2019 where we asked
about 350 applicants, how art and technology challenge dominant notions of
access and how together we can shape a more equitable future. We were interested
in notions of access through a multitude of lenses including but not limited to
access to physical space, access to information, access as it relates to
disability, gender, race, socio-economic positions, sexual orientations as well as
ecosystems and environmental access. We asked among other central questions how
can artists initiated projects and new technologies disrupt and refigure
legislated and often constricted measures of access?
How does access construct relationships with the world and with each other? And
those are just a couple of the questions that we asked our applicants to consider.
So it’s been really incredible this last year working with these residents
who have been grappling with these questions in really brilliant really
remarkably different ways so I can’t wait for you to hear from our four access
residence LaJuné McMillian, Shannon Finnegan, Yo-Yo Lin, The
Movers and Shakers who will be speaking very shortly and lastly before I turn the
mic over to LaJuné who’ll be speaking first I want to share my most
sincere gratitude for the team of total rockstars here at Eyebeam. Big thanks to the team Joanna,
J., Maddie, Yidan, Marisa, Lola, Munira, interns past and present special shout
out to guest Sarah O’Connell who ran the residency until just a couple months
ago. Welcome Sarah. And of course our Executive Director, Roni Schrock, so LaJuné the mic is
yours. Hello everyone my name is LaJuné McMillian
and I’m a new media artist working at the intersection of performance. I’ve worked along many different mediums including motion capture
technologies, physical computing in extended reality which is an umbrella
term for augmented, virtual, and based reality tools. And my project here is
the Black Movement Project and the Black Movement Project is an online database of
black character of base models and black motion capture data and essentially I
started this project because existing motion capture libraries don’t really
capture the different movements that black people would do. So this is a
character that I created in Daz doing a hip-hop dance in an existing
motion capture library and if you can just see this is not the hip hop dancing
and so I decided that I was going to create a station that wasn’t the case
where we could have diverse movements where you can have a variety of
the ways that we move. During my time my first month here at Eyebeam there was a lawsuit with
Fortnite and Fortnite is a video game created by Epic Games and with the
lawsuits essentially all of these dances from the black community like the Milly Rock or the Carlton dance
were appropriated to be placed into this video game. The thing about it that’s
really ridiculous and terrible is not only about these dances were taken
however that none of the none of the originators of the movements were
compensated for their work and the movements themselves were changed in
name. So for example the Milly Rock was changed to the swipe it. And so then that
got me to think about all these different questions one of them being
how we can how we combat the exploitation, erasure and dilution of
black culture. So all of these things this isn’t new black culture has always
been exploited blackness black people have always been exploited and for me as
a technologist as someone working in this space it’s really important for me
to really think about these things as I’m moving
along but then also how can we build spaces where our stories are safe,
understood and celebrated and so I decided that the Black Movement Project
was way more than just a tool or a database but that it was a library for
activists performers and artists to create diverse projects but also a
space to research how and why we move and an archive of our existence. And so
my project is very inspired by Katherine Dunham’s Movement Library. Katherine
Dunham was an anthropologist, a dancer, a choreographer, author, an educator so much more and she throughout the 1930s I traveled
throughout the Carribean writing and taking video of black movement. So
with that she was also able to take those movements and incorporate them
into her performances. She also created the Dunham technique and she transformed
the world of modern dance with her movements. So with that said the Black
Movement Project has expanded into not only a space to catalogue movements but also
a space to build community through performances, workshops, conversations
and tool making. So for the performative aspect I’ve worked with two performers
named Nala Duma and Renaldo Maurice and this is the narrative component
of the project where I had them both where motion capture suits as well as I
have I did interviews with them and incorporated that into performance piece
that allowed people to see like a real motion capture experience. So I created live visuals. So the next slide is the oh so yeah I used the Perception Neuron suit and essentially for 5-10 minutes people were able to
hear not only music that represent each artist but also their
movement dreams as well. Here’s a snippet. So that was the first performance, a snippet, thank-you. But from
here after doing this performance I realized that I needed to go through the
journey myself of redefining and rediscovering my own movement practice.
So I grew-up figure skating and midway through of being here at Eyebeam
I was able to connect with Brown Body which is an all African-American ice thatre company in Minneapolis and from there I went to Minneapolis for a month
basically just trying to digest and just rework my own relationship to the ice which is the predominantly which is the predominantly white space
and then also while I was here I was able to create a series of workshops and with
the term understanding, transforming and preserving black digital spaces
and within this workshop what’s really special is that we don’t only go through
the digital tools that one might use to use to create motion capture and extended
reality projects but we also challenge the different tools that we’re using and
so if you can see here this is Daz a character building software and within a lot of
these software’s the base characters often seen as a white able-bodied thin
character and what does it mean to challenge that and what does it mean to
create tools that are beyond that but then also I decided to start having
conversations with people who are leading within their own fields and so I actually had the first conversation last
week with Aimee Meredith Cox who is a dance anthropologist and
professor at Yale as well as Yussef Cole who is a writer an animator and so
that conversation was really amazing hearing their thoughts on the Black
Movement Project and also Lisa Cole was the person who created this fantastic
article on Fortnite and the appropriation of the dances so I
encourage you can check that out but yeah but that leads me to my last slide
the Black Movement Project is a movement it’s not only just an archive it’s not only
just a set of digital tools but it’s a movement, a movement to allow us to celebrate, to honor and to encourage one another to represent
black movements and ourselves in an ethical way. Thank you. Hi everyone, I’m Shannon Finnegan and I identify as
someone who’s disabled and I’m an artist and a lot of the work that I’ve done has
been about access and about how access as related to disability is often
approached in a very compliance oriented framework people are kind of like I
want to just check a box kind of get it over with do the minimum effort
so that they don’t get in trouble and so a lot of my work has been about thinking
how we can approach access in ways that are more creative, more generative, that
really center disability culture and so part of that is really thinking through
like how do we create spaces that disabled people not only can access but
actually want to access. So a lot of the work that I’ve done has been in physical space, I have a physical disability so these are like, I’ve been
working on a series of benches and I also on going project called Anti-
Stairs Club Lounge that gathers people who share an aversion to stairs and
different spaces for great reasons. So when I came to Eyebeam I was thinking a
lot about how some of that thinking that had done in physical space might translate into
digital spaces and thinking about digital accessibility and so I’ve been
working on this project called Alt-Text As Poetry. I have a collaborator on this
project Bojana Coklyat. Bojana is also a
disabled artist currently Fulbright Fellow so she is currently in the Czech Republic but
she has studied disability studies, has worked in access and is also an artist
and has been an amazing collaborator with me on this project. So before we can
jump in just to give a sense of what Alt- Text is in case anyone is unfamiliar so
this is kind of an official definition from WebAIM which is an organization
that supports web accessibility. So Alt- Text is actually used for a couple
different things but just to focus on I thank the access use Alt-Text is read by
screen readers in place of images allowing the content and function of the image to
be accessible to those with visual or certain cognitive disabilities. So a screen
reader is a piece of software that basically weeds out content from a
digital display so for example on a webpage the screen reader might read out
the navigation bar, the title, the first paragraph, the second paragraph. The
screen reader can’t read an image and so it knows to access this piece of
information associated with the image in the code
that’s called Alt-Text so that piece of information, the Alt-Text describes the
image gives access to the information being communicated in that
image. So if you are not a web developer or a screen reader user you probably
interact with alt text through and upload field when you’re adding content
to the internet. So that might be on Twitter and it might be on Instagram,
Facebook through a content management system like WordPress, Squarespace so
when you’re — we on social media platforms for example we as users are
responsible for making our own content accessible so as we’re adding the image
we have the opportunity to describe it and add to the accessibility of that
platform and so like a lot of things related to access and alt-text has often
been ignored or people don’t know about it, it’s not on their radar or it’s been
approached in this very dry and perfunctory tone and I think coming from my
background as an artist I was really interested in how we translate
visual information in the text like that’s actually a really interesting
complicated question to think through. And so Bojana and I have been working
with this question which is: what can alt- text learn from poetry? So there’s already been all this thinking done in the world of poetry and a lot of it is applicable
to this writing practice around accessibility alt-text and so some of
the things that we’ve been thinking about in particular are this idea of
attention to language. So just being really attune to the tone we’re using
the perspective are we using jargon are we using slang is the tone of the
writing aligned with the tone of the image, is it in contrast with a tone of the
image? Just by kind of focusing in on those things we really shift the process.
The next is the idea of word economy so poetry has a lot to teach us about being
really expressive while also being pretty brief. There are times for really
long and lavish descriptions but most of the time with alt-text we’re thinking
about like one to three sentences depending on the complexity of an image
so how can we keep that expressiveness while being really careful and
judicious with our words. And then the third one is this idea of an
experimental approach we have a lot to learn from poetry about I’m taking a
kind of more playful and exploratory approach to this writing practice and
really kind of starting to build out different strategies we can bring to doing this writing. And I always like to clarify, you know,
it’s not experimentation for the sake of experimentation where it’s always access
is always really at the core or you know some kind of experimenting and iterating
towards better and more nuanced access. So Bojana and I developed this workshop
that introduces people the alt-text, talks about why we think it’s helpful
to think about alt-test as a type of poetry, surfaces some of the kind of
key issues that we feel like come up often when translating images into text and
then but for the workshop is giving people a chance to to write image
descriptions to write alt-text and really talk about that process and kind
of learn from each other and so we’ve done this workshop about 20 times over
the past 11 months mostly at arts organizations in the city but also all
sorts of different places and the goal of the workshop is really like we
are not coming in as experts, we think of this as an art project it’s really about
kind of creating this space for people to talk about this and learn from each
other rather than us coming in and saying, “This is how you do it.” So what’s coming up next for this project is that we are we’re making a workbook so we’re
doing a self guided version of the workshop so from
the comfort of your own home you’ll be able to kind of practice writing alt-text we’re working on this project that we’re playing alt-text study club which
will be a resource that gathers examples of alt-text enhance starts to build a
database of some of those strategies or approaches that we could bring to
describing images and then farther out into 2020 we’re thinking through an
exhibition project that we’ll think about engaging with our non-visually. And
so just to end, I wanted to share one of my favorite examples of alt-text this is
something that I found early on as I was starting to think about this project
this was not written by someone who went to the workshop but I think is a really
good example of the potential of alt-text. So this is from the Death Valley
National Park Service Instagram account and the description of this image is.
“Twisted wood branches in the foreground with an arc of stars in the sky above a
dark distant mountain.” Thank you. Next-up, we have Yo-Yo Lin. Hello, everyone. Thank
you for being here. My name is Yo-Yo Lin. I am an interdisciplinary media-artist
and I’m trying to live more in my body. So I have been developing this toolkit called
Modes of Embodiment. I’m developing methodologies and doing research around
processing and reclaiming chronic health trauma and I’m doing this in a few
different ways but I wanted to practice this thinking about how we can like reconsider how the ill and disabled body mind can be an unprecedented space for
generative aesthetics, emotional depth and generosity. So I’m basically doing
the toolkit in three different components this year. First, is soft data
tracking; the second, is audio-visual processing; and the third, is movement
practice and space holding. And we’ll go into more detail each one. So, with the
resilience journal, this is the tool I developed that is seeking to
visualize the overlooked soft data in our lives. Often living with a chronic
illness it often feels that confronting my illness mainly through hard medical
data and I wanted to combat that in creating this space for myself. So this
is the spread for my personal resilience journal and this is the month of
February. On the left are notes from each day on the right is a circle data
visualization of what happened each day and for this data visualization I was
asking myself what are the different ways that my illness presents itself in
daily life. So I started tracking seven different dimensions. So on the first
outer loop is “felt-it” which is chronic pain, a lot of those symptoms I
experienced is in chronic pain but I realized that chronic pain exists not just
physiologically but also psychologically. “Logistical problems”, “body image”, “social
pressures”, “going to the doctor”, this morning I was like, oh I should change going to the doctor to like, “giving care to myself” and then “future visions” how I’m
enacting in my presence the future that I want to live in. “Past” which like
whenever past memories and past traumas come up. So this is like a very ritualistic process for me really wanting to explore just like the everyday lived experience of chronic illness. And I’ve been doing this pretty much everyday and I wanted to like look at
these dimensions more because I often felt that our bodies are so medicalized that you don’t often get to explore illness or trauma in a way that isn’t from that perspective but also thinking about how acknowledging things
like illness and trauma is often something that we don’t allow ourselves
to do especially you we’re from a more marginalized immigrant community
so it’s like even putting a name to it is just so scary for people. And I also
wanted to put this into context thinking about how this disability scholar Colin
Cameron writes about this thing called “the disabling gaze” and the disabling
gaze is something that is very predominant in society in which disabled
ill people are expected and often required to experience their own body
myth negatively. And that’s real. And like I was wondering how I can hold space for
this part of myself in a way that wasn’t coming from a place that was like, “I need
to struggle against this and I need to fix this,” but just letting it be. So data tracking was a way to do that. So, on December 4th we’re releasing with journal here at Eyebeam.
So come on down, grab a copy and here’s are some examples of like different
people writing about it on Instagram. People would just like dm me and
send me like things they’ve done which has been amazing. And I wanted to move
forward into another move another mode of embodiment, so I’ve been exploring
how illness can also be sound. I’ve been looking at well actually it started here
just like in this space right now where I was like doing a lot of stretches and
moving around because I was feeling a lot of chronic pain and a lot of the stretches
and movements that I do produce a lot of popping and cracking sounds so I was
wondering if we can sample these sounds and synthesize it as music. So over
here you’ll see my friend Micah is taking a feed of live body sounds coming
from various parts of my body that have lots of different popping and cracking
sounds and then synthesizing with this music and then I’ve also been working
with my choreographer dancer friend Laura Marcin over there, who has been
teaching me about to essentially see my body in the site of creative expression. So here’s the clip of that performance. So I’m really interested in looking at
how restorative movement and gestures of care can give dance practice and also
from the beginning I’ve been an animator and a media-artist so I’m also really interested in seeing how visually my body can be remixed through video. And moving forward
we’ve been developing a workshop because I’m realizing that there isn’t really a
space to explore illness and disability as a site for creative expression and
movement so we’ve been working together at Movement Research, Laura Marcin and
I, in developing a workshop series entitled “Modes of Embodiment” expressive
toolkit for chronically ill and disabled bodies and this is one of our workshop
and we like to center access as part of the practice and we work with the
institution and bringing that access forward. And in this workshop we work
towards dismantling ableist notions of skill and rigor. Anyone is welcome to
come no matter where you are in your disability status and no matter where
you are in your movement practice anyone who is curious about movement and welcome.
And we do like a variety of different modalities: one of them is, authentic movement in the practice of witnessing each other in moment. This one, and yeah
considering the shapes that are unique body minds can create thinking about
different kinds of ways of looking at our medical files. Like seeing your medical
files as movement scores. Creating networks of interdependence through just
being in space and movement together. And on November 10th we have a public version
of this workshop so I welcome anyone who is curious about movement to come and I
wanted to leave you with this last slide this quote I heard, which is “Healing is not a way
to return to a past state but a process of becoming.” Thank-you so much. Peace and blessings my name is Glenn, I’m
Idris and we are Movers and Shakers. Movers and Shakers is a collective of
artists, activists, educators and technologists who focus on augmented
reality is a tool to highlight the narratives of the oppressed. So before I move forward of quick
raise hands if you’re familiar with augmented reality or if you have used it before?
Alright better than most rooms. Cool. For those who are unfamiliar augmented
reality if a medium in which the digital world is superimposed by the physical
world through a lens. So that lens can be anything from glasses to a headset to a
smartphone and so popular applications of augmented reality would be the viral game “Pokémon Go” another example is the Snapchat or Instagram filters where you
hold your phone up and maybe your face turns into a dog or something cool happens and in
terms of access specifically our work revolves around using art and technology
in order to democratize the access to underrepresented narratives in ways that have not been told and so in the United States our classrooms, our public spaces, our
monuments and our cultural institutions they tend to focus on financial gains of
the oppressors and they gloss over the pain would be oppressed. Yes,
so when I was in the first grade I specifically remember my teacher telling
us that George Washington was nice to slaves. Yeah and I remember that one of
the activities we had to do is that we had to color Christopher Columbus’s
boats: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria but our teacher never covered the
fact that there were title slaves at the bottom of those boats and she certainly
neglected to mention the fact that Columbus’s actions catalyzed a genocide
of 80 to 100 million indigenous people across the continents. And so it’s really
these stories from the past that we have used to really guide our work moving
forward and so over this last year Eyebeam has really allowed us the time, the space, the
freedom, and yes, the money to be able to really like delve deep into our practice
and figuring out what areas we can use our medium augmented reality to affect
the most change. And so the three areas that we came across that we can
use our art to really make a tangible impact, our education, public spaces and
cultural institutions and so in terms of education before Movers & Shakers, I worked as a computer science educator at Google Code Next, which
is a program that developed culturally engaging and enriching computer science
curriculum for high school students around New York City and the goal
was to really cultivate the next generation of black and latinx tech
leaders. And really the most rewarding part of this experience was being able
to teach these high school kids everything from coding and design to
computational art and engineering and really see themselves and allow
themselves to see them in the technologies and really the future of
technology because growing up, going to school I didn’t really see computer
science as an option for me I didn’t see it as engaging, I didn’t see the possibilities,
it wasn’t till I had the privilege to be exposed to such things which is and
that’s when they it clicked for me and so and the Movers the Shakers moving
forward we really want to get the technologies of tomorrow into the hands
the communities we usually get at last. Because we want these communities to
build their own futures. Right now their futures are being built without them in
mind and so we need to curb that and really pave a path for the youth behind
us. Amen. So earlier this year we won the Verizon
5G EdTech Challenge it was a national open call for creative uses of 5G technology
in the classroom and so with the support of Verizon we were able to hire a
talented team and our partner Michael, who’s back there, join us full-time and so
through the Verizon project accelerator we had the opportunity to work with
talented technologists, with teachers, with students, with writers to create
“Unsung” and so Unsung is a multiplayer augmented reality learning experience
that focuses on four women of color with views and voices to fight for social
change and so the platform that we built for Unsung really provides a completely
new and unique way to position narratives in augmented reality so let’s
say on the classroom we’re all in a classroom here and so we’re all six to
eighth grade English students and we would receive a workbook and those
workbooks would align with each figure that we’re highlighting and along with
those students will be able to also answer multiple choice questions in the app.
Now the correct answers to those questions would unlock what you see here
which is our augmented reality story box. And this story box, there’s one for each
figure, and this story box really provides a visual and interactive
element for the kids to explore the history of each of these figures and so
the amazing part about this is that we’re really meeting kids where they’re
at with their media intake and at home and with their friends they’re really
used to engaging with things very visually and very interactively like
video games, social media, TV, etc so with this we really can take
historical educational content and on top of that content that is not
really taught at schools right now and we can bring it to them in a similarly
engaging and visual manner and really increase their engagement and what
they’re actually learning. Okay so, right now we’re specifically focused on
English classes and that’s intentional. Now, the reality is that doing the work and
going through the bureaucratic process of changing historical curriculum, it’s
above us and it’s a battle that we’re not properly equipped to engage in as it
now, but one of the key insights that we received through our user interviews
with teachers and students came from the fact that our augmented reality story
box and our storytelling framework is pretty flexible and so the teachers from
various disciplines have told us that we could implement our storyboxes in their
classrooms right now. And so in terms of next steps for us
Verizon has given us another round of funding to implement Unsung at scale and
so we’re going to be releasing this in 40 schools nationwide in September of
2020 and in 100 schools by September 2021. I’m excited too. And so what’s exciting about Unsung is
that the digital assets that are available will be useful and
instrumental in our fight to reimagine and to reclaim public spaces we’re
talking about reframing conversations in terms of who is praised and why they
were praised. So nationwide there are 5,100 more than 5,100 statues of different people
that are standing. Out of that 5,100 there are 718 Confederate
monuments that would have owned people like Irdris, myself and many of you in
the audience and there’s 394 women. So there’s 5,100 monuments of
people there are 718 Confederate monuments and there 394 statues of women. Make sure you know that’s crazy. So, that’s a huge
problem right it’s like even in 2019 just challenging the notion of the fact
that our public spaces are dominated by male Eurocentric and
largely white supremacist narratives it creates tension and if you look at in
2017 I went down to Charlottesville Virginia and I counter protested the
Nazis and the Klanmen thing that went out of their way to preserve their own
version of history. You can see what they’re willing to do and the lengths they are willing
to go to preserve these false narratives and so in New York City we engaged in a
campaign to advocate for the removal of the statue of Christopher Columbus at
Columbus Circle but is the point is we did creative
demonstrations using our augmented reality technology to host teachers in
public spaces throughout New York City I ran the New York City Marathon in
chains to raise awareness and we worked with a slew of
grassroots organizations that were trying to pursue the same objective
but the problem is that politics is politics and mayor de Blasio refused
through the statue as we know it still stands today and so that’s what realizes
that we have to just rewrite the rules ourselves since our augmented reality we
figured something out. So it’s you know obviously politically
contentious to remove statutes and it’s prohibitively expensive to address the
discrepancy that I was talking about before it’s literally years in the
making but with AR we can right this and so it’s scaleable we can make hundreds of AR monuments for the for the price of one traditional statute, we can make them
any size, we can put them anywhere, we can do it with permission, we can do it without permission. And so that’s what we’re
trying to do and so we’re building out a catalogue of different
womxn, people of color, the lgbtqia+ community and our goal is to start off
with New York City and hopefully scale this out and
implement this nationwide and so in terms of our next steps we just got
20-monuments funded and we are going to launch them for Black History Month and
then with the ultimate goal of in the spring we’re going to start doing
walking tours and then over time as we’re building out this catalog we also
want to implement our story boxes this is the idea of the story boxes they can
remove the academic component. You can put them in public
spaces and for the first time communities of color will be able to
engage with narratives that bridges that resonate with us. The final part of our
work for the years I’ve worked with cultural institutions and so our goal
there was to really change the way that social institutions tell stories that
also changes the way that they interact with the public but also which
areas of the public that actually interacting with it and so over the past
few months we’ve been created we’ve created a prototype with the Museum of
Contemporary Art of Detroit and that prototype would serve as a way to change up how digital media is shown in certain institutions but our vision for it is
really to create a two-way street of engagement between a cultural
institution and the communities outside of it because we think AR provides the
perfect tool to kind of break the conversations and the content that’s
being shown inside the four walls of the institution we want to come bring that
out and expand that and so the app would serve inside the institution as a way
for people to for us to get content that’s not normally shown like digital
content and etc and bring that into that space with AR but also we wanted to
bring kind of statues we wanted to bring sculptures and paintings that are not
that are only kept in the museum’s and we want to use AR to bring that out into
the public space whether that’s through murals whether that’s through
geolocation AR experiences or whether that’s through 3D scans of certain
artwork that we’re doing and so that is what we want to just really make museums
and make gallery spaces accessible for the general public not
what they are right now. And so long for our role is to use augmented reality
technology as a tool to reframe and antiquated narratives to educate the
youth and to empower grassroots organizations to have to have their own
teachings in their own communities so So that finally, the communities that typically get this last, we gotta be first in line. Thank-you. Great job, and I know everyone’s super
eager to ask questions but I’m going to start. And ask you each a question. LaJuné let’s start with you. So you spoke briefly about our conceptual thinking
around the Black Movement Project has shifted from the formation of a more
online database to really building a community space and I love thinking
about it as a library because it’s such a wonderful way of thinking about what
you’re what you’re really trying to do. So I’m wondering if you could just talk
a bit more about the significance of this shift and your work over the last
year and how you’re going to how you’re going about building community and
collaborative research in your process. When I first started the project and I
realized that a lot of the people who are currently in this space using the
tools like the current motion capture libraries of character
based models applications I knew that that didn’t reflect the
people that I wanted to use those tools and so then I realized that because of
that I was going to have to build out a space where that wouldn’t be the case. At
first I thought that the library would actually be open source but I realized
that just like doesn’t make sense at all
mainly because I wanted to make sure that I was creating space where the
performance artists were protected so I decided that when you shift to a more
community based of space and community-based project you can bring in people that
normally wouldn’t engage with these tools and give them a space to see
what’s currently available but also give them a space to challenge the spaces
that are available now currently as well. So trying to get into a library one of
the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as well as also like the
future of the libraries and how I can transform that to a space that could better of represent this project so yeah I believe that when you build a
community you can build better tools I believe that when you can build a
community space you can create a space where
people are challenging the current systems and pretty much it. Wonderful. Shannon, we’ll go down the line. So I remember after you developed the alt-text as poetry workshop you came to us and said, “I really want to do this
in as many places as possible can you help me?” And so, we reached out to a number of
organizations and surprise everyone said, “Yes.” They wanted the workshop, so you know
about 20 organizations you said and they know that each kind of experience
obviously has different participants coming from different perspectives and
varying levels of familiarity with alt-text so you know I
am just really curious to hear a little bit more about how each one of how this
process has been cumulative of each one kind of can contribute to
your larger body of research and also what have been some of the biggest
challenges that have come up in the description process of individuals and
how has this sort of shaped the workshop will be forward? Yeah I mean I I think
both Bojana came into this project as non experts as artists. Bojana is
someone who identifies this low vision so she’s engaging with description a lot
so she had kind that expertise coming into the project but I think both of us
felt like we learned, we’re always learning and continue to
always learn and that’s been something even kind of writing the workbook thinking about how to like kind of stop a moment in time in our thinking while also giving space for the fact that things are changing and yeah I mean one
small example of that is I think I felt really excited going into the project
about this idea of artists describing their own work partially because
I think it’s really interesting when access isn’t kind of this like band-aid
that’s put on at the end of the project but it’s like conceived up from the
beginning and integrated creatively throughout a project and so yeah we were
kind of talking about that I’m excited about that and we went to one workshop
where there was someone who is blind who is like I hate artists generated
descriptions like really felt like that created a type of description that was
about the artists intent but not actually about what the experience of
the work was and so I that just moments like that where understanding there
really isn’t one right approach to writing an image description and it’s
and so it’s important to just understand kind of pros and cons of different
strategies and there’s like yeah there’s huge outstanding questions that we have
that it’s really fun to bring people into this work in order to hear what
they have to say about it but each of the exercises is kind of focused around
a specific area of description and so one is about subjectivity in audience so thinking about who you are as a describer, what knowledge
and context you bring to description and also who you’re describing for, what you
imagine they know, what they might be interested in, one is about kind of
length and priorities so like for a specific image like how much description
is needed, what what information should come first, what information should come
later and one is about describing people in the ways that identity and
representation come up in description and there are lots of different approaches to that
whether it’s like asking people to self describe and doing kind of
collaborative descriptions creating space in the description for saying that
you’re not sure or that you’re guessing or you’re making an interpretation but
yeah there’s there’s just really there’s there’s so many interesting things that
come up and it’s been so exciting to just get to talk about it with different
people and ask if their areas of expertise come into this practice. Thank-you. Yo-Yo, so first I want to say it’s totally
wild hearing from you and just seeing how much your practice has evolved over
the last year it’s quite mind-blowing actually and to to believe that your
movement practice which is totally stunning and feels so even it is hard
to believe that is a totally new form of expression for you. So I’d love for you
you to just say a little bit about this transition and also how
something that’s so personal how you know how what it means to kind of work
across collaborations to work with new participants in each workshop to work
with new institutions again, a loaded question, but you know I just have to know more. Yeah, the movement workshop and the movement practice is totally new. I kind of came into Eyebeam
like a floating head without a body and then experience my body in pain. So, I kind
of was talking to Laura about this and Laura is a close real life we’ve been
friends for like eight years or more and I have always been like the person doing projections while like she’s the one dancing and we were talking and she was
like, “You know want would be amazing is if you use yourself as an example of what
developing of movement practice could be like for someone with chronic illness.”
And I was like oh, that’s wild, I don’t know how to do that, I don’t want to put my body on the line. That’s a lot of work and then I like
kept thinking more and more and I was like oh like that is like the medium like we’re
talking about the volume talking about this we’re talking about embodiment like
there needs to be a certain level of physicality to this and yeah and I do
enjoy dancing so I was thinking about all these things so Laura and I booked some rehearsal spaces and like she would just like stare at me
while I might do stuff it was very DIY in that sense but
Laura coming with so much expertise and like dance and personal movement and
journeys and being very mindful about like where to push me away to let me
explore I kind of let me into it like a more informed and confident way of
exploring movement and I was just moving like the past Monday and like feeling
like really good and I was like okay like maybe I should like push myself more
like maybe I should like make like this rehearsal into like a
more robust rehearsal so I’m like pushing myself to the limits and then I was like
wait why am I thinking that and I was realizing that so much of what I do is
geared towards like pleasurable movements and movements that give me
care and how maybe just exploring that could be enough for developing a
movement practice and these are all things I already do so that works we’re
working so far. Alright so it in terms of institutions like working with Movement
Research which is this amazing movement and dance institution has been incredible I was you know
introduced to them my J. who used to work there and now works at Eyebeam
full-time and yeah without J. I would not have yeah like J. was like, “Okay you should meet these people, you should go to these events.” He would e-mail me. I was like, “Ok.” It was very proactive. It held me accountable in that sense that
this is something I needed like keep learning and keep working on and that
was amazing because the people at Movement Research there’s such a scrappy team but
they do so much and they do so much like thought and care into how they curate different
kinds of classes of movement performances so working with them has been
amazing way the past workshop we’ve been working on we’ve been like you know
the whole space is ADA accessible but we’ve been also like making this space
accessible beyond just basics like you wanted to make the space welcoming you
wanted to make the space like actually geared towards people with chronic
illness in disability so you know we always have seats in the space, we always
have like different cushions, we have like snacks people could eat who have like
you know dietary restrictions and the class runs for four hours which is a long
time the people you know show up like an hour late and that’s like totally fine
you know transportation and like crip time so yeah and like also we also
for some reason always have like an hour and a half afterwards
so just like to just like talk and like hang out which is like never heard of in
like a rehearsal space and like dance institutions they’re always just like
packing up and like getting all your stuff like leaving and everyone is standing around waiting for you to leave
I it’s been amazing just like having space and time and like yeah it’s so
necessary for people we can’t move fast so yeah. Thank-you. I have a couple questions for you two, but I’m going to with the juicier ones before we open it up. With any political or social justice
driven agenda there will always be tensions between staying true to your
core values and working with institutions, corporations, media and
other positions of power and Glenn, I remember early on in one of our
early meetings you asked, I’m slightly rephrasing this for the audience’s sake,
just kidding, “How do you navigate ruffling feathers of folks that you know
you may need to ask favors from later?” So now that so really you know navigating
my line when you’re working with power that comes with money and other forms of
access that you’re going to eventually need and want so now that you’re… this is something I’m sure so many people in this room contend with. You know I thought about a lot do you
have any advice on how to navigate this based on your experience or what do you
have any, you know, so it’s an ongoing. We all have a vice. So, it’s an ongoing conversation that we have a lot. I’m gonna give a brief anecdote and then I’ll make it more broad so like right
now even like you see with a lot of protests in terms of
who’s on the board of museums and how they’re getting funded and should artists be
supported by these museums should they put their work in these museums, like what
happens there right and like we’re also in this space where the social climate
is being shifted like private prisons were just abolished in California. That’s a big deal right and so
like like five years ago Mark Zuckerberg writing a check to an
institution wouldn’t be seen as a big deal, now, that’s not so true. And like so what’s really important is where
there needs to be agents of change is like understanding A) like what our core
values are and B) also navigating what the future is going to look like because
we want to be the ones paving the path for it. So in terms of one like bedrock
thing that we figured out so far it’s like there’s one thing where it’s like
look if you are running for political office and you take checks from Exxon Mobile
you’re probably not being advocated something like the New Green Deal for example
doing a legitimate power dynamic but that being said well thanks Eyebeam you but
you’ve got those too right and so one of the things that we’ve really honed
down on in terms of our values looking at certain institutions that were
engaging with because you know no one is perfect
we’re still using iPhones right how many of you are using iPhones – you’re supporting child labor in the Congo by doing that right it like so
that we’re all complicit in the system that being said we’re approached by the
institution and they have certain terms: you can’t talk about this, that, and a third,
that’s a problem versus the case of Verizon for example we’re given space we’re
given IP ownership we have a lot of agency over what we what we do and how
we move. We can get jiggy with that. Totally. Thank-you for taking that on. Now we are going to move to audience questions. Should anyone have one. Hi I’m Rahad, I wanted to know if any of
y’all have done you work with civic engagement with any governmental
agencies? Or if you’ve entertained that option or completely run away from it? Yeah, it’s an interesting song and dance
especially given the fact that we are activists there’s a lot of bureaucracy
that has to be considered and at least from my engagement a lot of the energy
that I’ve received is that like you know as an individual I’m a part of what
you’re doing but because of X Y Z power dynamics or in the situation I cannot
publicly advocate for you you cannot move within our halls of power. However,
there are other situations where for example Jumaane Williams the Nursing Public
Advocate when we’re first trying to get rid of the statute he was the first
councilman to endorse what we’re doing so it all depends and we’re definitely
open to it but once again like the biggest thing is the terms how can we
we’re not gonna make posters that we say “We love Columbus,” that’s not cute. Oh sorry I I haven’t directly but
they’re in New York City we have the mayor’s office for people with
disabilities and they are doing a lot of work around digital accessibility and I
have like been in touch with them and there’s like a lot of learning from each
other that happens there so it it is definitely something that’s also
happening in our local City government. I went to this intensive course when Shannon called DANT
is the Disability Arts New York Task force and we talked to a lot of city
officials and it was like really interesting to see you know like yeah
different ways they think about things I think disability arts and the civic
engagement side of things you know something’s like overlap a little bit
but something is they’re very distinctly different in the ways that I think overlap
I don’t know how to talk about this J. but the registry? Okay
tentative registry we’re building a registry that then you know we’re still
figuring out if this is something you should do when we’re building a registry
for disabled artists in New York City and we’re still figuring out yeah what
are the implications of that means yeah how this could also be a resource but
also be something that could target people further. LaJuné I’m wondering if you foresee your work ever entering
the artificial intelligences space in that way see you doing this building a lot of data that doesn’t already exist in a certain space and that’s a lot of what is the
issue in artificial intelligence programs being built without proper
representation in their data so if you’ve already thought about what your involvement in… Yeah yes so I have thought a lot about
it honestly I’m not really tied to any medium per se like or really like any
specific mode of technology what I’m really I guess interested in is how to
just how to do it the right way like I’ve had like people reach out to me
already asking if like they could get access to the library for their AI and
I’m just like first of all, “Who are you?” You know they you’re DM’ing me like this is weird. So
I mean I’ve thought about it I think that one of my major questions just
with my art in general has been you know how do we like really digest and
deconstruct these technologies as they are and you know really think about how
all of these you know oppressive systems are already built within these spaces
you know it’s not just you know the people making the AI but it’s like even
the idea of like oh let’s make an artificial intelligence like where does
that idea even come from you know so I’m really trying to like to help peel back like
you know how do we like you know go back to like how do we like you know push
forward and keep going towards the future while also healing back you know
all of the different like just historical just all of this like history
like within these tools how do we dive into that to make sure that we don’t
make the same mistakes of the past so yeah I think that in terms of AI
like I’ve been thinking about how to you know I guess I create different
artificial intelligence like using I guess movement I know that there have
been different dancers that have been doing that already but I’m
also really interested a lot with how these technologies like our
communication with like with these technologies and how and it and also
like the points in which these technologies break and why so yeah I
think that like in terms of artificial intelligence yeah I’ve been interested in it… I just wanted to say, thank-you all for sharing your practices or viewpoints how things change
a question for all of you is what does the concept of intellectual property
means for each of your practices like LaJuné I feel like intellectual
property ownership dances and movement of stories of various closing doors
honestly different layers of intellectual property or ownership of
marginalized quote unquote voices are common throughout all y’alls work so
I’m curious to know and what does intellectual property mean for you? Have
each of you thought about the law this kind of copywriting this concept of
making sure your work is not stolen from another person who has “more resources” or
more you know capital if that makes sense
I just think that there’s this common thread of intellectual origin and what
does that mean for each of you? Okay so so yes so for me I think like going back
to the Fortnite lawsuits and how they were dropped so I think this huge part
about the Fortnite lawsuits was the fact that they were dropped because
those movements were not considered choreography so the idea that you know
these movements that when you see them you know that that is the Milly Rock
you know that that is the Carlton like you know that these dances have an
origin and yet there’s no law to protect it like that really you know strikes
a chord with me I think that that’s why I decided to I guess expand more like
within the space that I was given I think that even within the existing
motion capture libraries you don’t know who was the person who wore the most
capture suit to create that movement so basically that just like erases the
whole origin for how that movement got into the library and so let’s say I have you
know black characters you know in my extended reality project and I’m using
these resources that I don’t know the origins or where these movements came
from you know I could be using movements from someone I actually like don’t want
to be in my piece so I think that for me it’s like how do you build spaces and
how do you go tools that actually fully capture the fullness of you know what
something is and that’s why I guess in this case with recording black movement
for me I look at that as a very like broad thing for me that’s why I’m also
you know capturing the stories of the people who are making those specific
movements that’s why I’m also creating a space to archive you know conversations
with people who are talking about this mainly because you know even if someone
was to steal I guess movements from this library and to put in their piece there
will always be you know a space that says you know this person did this, this
date, this is their story this is you know, how they did it, this is
where we did it, you know basically for me like how do I explore you know
different places to get motion capture data as well as opposed to just like a
motion capture studio but you know having a place that says this is all
this is here’s all the information this is the fullness of what this is I think
it’s very important. I have been thinking about you know how to do it in
terms of law but I’m not even like you know I’m I am definitely open to talking
to lawyers and I definitely do you want to talk to
lawyers because I think our that’s important but I do feel that that’s
going to be like a longer fight a longer journey. Okay so intellectual property is a very
complicated concept for us for many reasons the first is you have to think
about like time the reason why I say time is because right now we’re in a space where’s there’s a “.com boom” and the content that we have you need specific skill set
to create it. It’s not like you know in the back of the day you this is a skill set
to make a website now we got Squarespace where anyone can do it right so like, time is a really important factor because over time it would be great if we can
develop tools that other communities can also use and develop their own public
artwork in different ways but then in terms of intellectual property is like
does that belong the people to be create community guidelines so there’s not
swastikas everywhere right like what does that look like and who owns that IP
is a big question of like I hope we have that problem in the future but in terms of where
we are at right now with the specific content the name of the game is freedom
so for those of you unfamiliar with the Spotify model for example, I listen to some songs, some commercials like pay me for the whole thing
so what we’re considering is like public art it should be for everyone right like it
would be so grimy if we just went to like black communities where like you’ll
pay us to see this cuz you need to see that it’s like that’s not cool right but
what we could do is engage in a premium model where we
can unlock some of our content in the catalogue donate that to either
community organizations or run run the demonstrations ourselves depending on
power dynamics, interests, respective space all that right, part one. But part
two let’s say Cleveland right if Cleveland wants twenty statues then
we’re talking about a city contract right we engage with the municipal
government of Cleveland and then we figure out terms and ideally that becomes
public art for Cleveland both we get paid for our work right and so there are
different gradients to that there are different approaches that we still have
to discuss when we’re figuring it out so just don’t
in simple terms first thing is a time because the tools will change and people
are gonna do crazy things with technology but the second thing is
figuring out where it’s like if coca-cola wants to do a team-building
workshop with these AR monuments and they want to run a five-figure check… You going to take the check, Irdris? Well, I would like to. We could talk about that later. Yeah but like there are different
dynamics depends on who is for and why all that because all this work literally about power and we would be hypocrites if we were to become the oppressors ourselves
the script of the power dynamic. I think what came up for me with your question
is just that I don’t I don’t really feel a sense of ownership over the idea of
Alt-Text as Poetry something that we talk about a lot in the workshops is this
idea that this project really exists in an ecosystem of work around this topic
and that like disabled people have been asking like specifically for
creative approaches to description for a long time and creative approaches to access for
forever and so I think we have taken a very loose kind of sense of ownership
over it I think that’s also like we a lot of the places that we have been
working this time with artists communities with social justice organizations and I
think there’s there is with images on the internet that is kind of numbers
thing going on where there’s so many images and I think we feel really
excited about this information being able to travel and reach reach different
people and so we’re planning to re-released the workbook it’s an open
source tool but I have been thinking a lot about how to kind of like put some kind
of like non-commercial protections around that and also just the ways
I think something that I want to be really careful about is that sometimes
people get really excited about the kind of potential and the complexity and
interesting aspects of image description but outside of a connection to access
and that they’re kind of like want to like run with it instead of
focusing on really who that needs to be for and what to be working towards and
so figuring out how to make sure that that’s like really clear in the
resources in terms of like what how we want the resource used. So we’ll just take
one more question and then yeah and then we encourage you all afterwards to join
us for us wine and just chat, everyone will be hanging out to continue the conversation. But first, stupid question though maybe some other
people are like me are wondering if I wanted to upload a photo through Instagram
and describe it with alt-text yeah is it in the comment? Yeah there’s a part two oh and
then after that, when is your workbook going to be available? Okay so this is a huge problem with the
platforms is that adding alt-text is not integrated into the work flow in an
intuitive or obvious way. Instagram didn’t have alt-text until December 2018
so it’s pretty recent um as you’re uploading a photo on the
kind of screen where you’re entering the caption if you scroll all the way down
there’s this tiny gray text that says advanced settings and when you click on
that you’re then able to enter the alt- text and actually Twitter has even worse
Twitter has had alt-text since 2016 but in order to write it you have to go into
your own account accessibility settings and opt-in to even have the field
appear in your workflow so that’s that’s definitely a huge issue is just like getting
more buy-in from these platforms around the importance of this feature and
surfacing that in a way that is like educating people about how to do this
rather than like really tucking it away in a place that kind of
makes it feel like it’s not at all important and then the workbook is
really getting close there was a dream that it was going to be ready by this
week but I think that it will be before the end of November and the online
version will be released and then were exploring doing a print version
and I think that will likely take a little bit longer but coming very very soon. So I just wanted to address the first question by the person with the name with an “R” in yellow that’s not right
okay yeah I didn’t properly answer your question and I want to give you a good
answer okay so so it’s back the question as far
as dealing with Civic actors in different ways right so like there was
an August 2017 right after Charlottesville we had a meeting with a
powerful media executives who knows the the Mayor and after the meeting the
understanding was that we were going to be a part of an exploratory
committee that determines what statues go up or goes down we’re gonna create
that process really excited less than 24 hours later than Mayor releases a tweet saying
that this was going to happen we’re still waiting for a call and so the
reason why I’m saying this is because especially like I don’t wear a jacket
with the dreadlocks for the mistake this is serious and it’s not a joke you
feel me and so it’s not easy when you’re writing grant applications and you’re
hungry before Eyebeam you can’t even tell that authentic story because nobody will believe you
we saw there was South Park episodes on it and it was all over the news that makes
you think you’re losing your sanity a little bit but the reason why I’m saying this is because like you
know aesthetics is one thing but what we’re doing is about power and power
does not play fairly in this script and so I just wanted to do your actual question
justice and tell you the truth. Thanks everyone, so well this is the last week of this cohort at Eyebeam which is completely blowing my mind. Once you’re in the Eyebeam family, you’re always in the Eyebeam family.
So make sure you’re following us on social media Maddie over there has got you with all the content and following
our newsletters as well because we’re we’re really trying to continue to tell
the stories of everyone that all of incredible artists that we work with
through the years and we also just announced our incoming 2020 cohort. There’s lots of ways to engage with Eyebeam if you want to
learn more we’ll be milling about the bar or way around this feel free to ask
it thanks again so much for making tonight a very special of everyone then most of
all to the five of you let’s have one more big round of applause.

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