Black Arts + Data Futures at College Library

March 27, 2018

On Wednesday, April 4, and Thursday, April 5, Room 2257 in College Library will be transformed into a virtual reality experience. Ashley Baccus-Clark, Director of Research for Hyphen-Labs, will present her work, “NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism” [a virtual reality experience] from 10am to 1pm on the 4th and from 10am to 2pm on the 5th. She will also give a public lecture discussing her work as a developer, scientist, and creative artist, working in STEM on April 4th at 4pm in the Red Gym. These events are free and open to the public.

“NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism” (NSAF) is an award winning three-part digital narrative that sits at the intersection of product design, virtual reality, and neuroscience. It is inspired by the lack of multi-dimensional representations of black women in technology. The virtual reality experience is a cross-platform project grounded in several applications of technology including product design, virtual reality, and social-psychological/cognitive impact/biometric/fMRI research. The core technology explores parallax and real-time rendering inside of Unreal4 – a game engine software framework – to create a active audio/visual virtual reality experience. Embodiment is augmented with the Oculus Sensor tracker and headset to allow for room scale immersion and positional feedback.

Virtual reality is the immersive platform that transports viewers into a NeuroCosmetology lab, a reimagined black hair salon, placing the viewer into a black woman’s body giving a glimpse into a speculative future of black women pioneering brain research and neuromodulation through the culturally specific ritual of haircare. NSAF has been shown at Sundance Film Fest, SXSW, Tribeca Film Fest (Jury Honorable Mention), Gray Area Art & Technology Festival, Primer Speculative Futures Conference, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Stony Island Arts Bank & Rebuild Foundation, New Inc: Versions Festival, Refinery 29’s 29 Rooms. Hyphen-Labs is currently in residence at the Center for Art, Science & Technology at MIT.