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Session

Black Movement Pop Up Library

LaJuné McMillian and Yvonne Mpwo

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berlinarltink-Black-Movement-Project-2019-IV-copyright-LaJune-McMillian-1600x900@2x.png

Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, this project will undergo constant modifications; the features of this page provide accruing information on the project’s developments.

Date:
September 15–October 29, 2022

Visitor info
To make an appointment, please sign up no later than 10 am the same day at recessartscheduling.as.me

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In the past few years, access to motion capture data, 3D base models, and software to “make an animation of yourself” has skyrocketed. While these resources are extremely helpful to create a range of projects, they lack tools to create diverse characters and movements unexplored by systems that center assumptions of neutrality. The Black Movement Pop Up Library (BMPUL) is a library for activists, performers & artists to create diverse XR projects, a space to research how and why we move, and an archive of Black existence. BMPUL seeks to grow community through the use of performances, XR experiences, workshops, conversations and tool making.

As a new media artist and creative technologist, McMillian challenges the limitations of western technologies specifically in terms of how they may harm, isolate, place limitations on, and ignore the needs of Black people. Their 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? While at Recess, they are specifically inviting folks normally not in tech spaces to have access to these important conversations affecting our everyday lives. The BMPUL envisions a space to combat the commodification, exploitation, erasure, and dilution of Black culture and people. What might cultural reparations and accountability look like? Furthermore, how can we discover, learn, invest in, and steward systems that prioritize liberation and abundance?

The BMPUL brings together various strains of McMillian’s recent work. On view will be several Black Movement Portraits which serve as a way to learn about the lives of performers contributing their movement data to the library. The artist will also be inviting additional movers to become part of the archive using a combination of techniques and technologies that include interviews about their movement histories; using perception neuron motion-capture suits to witness signature movement vocabularies; and then co-creating digital avatars and 3D worlds in which their avatars move in liberated contexts. They will also present elements of their workshop Understanding, Transforming, and Preserving Movement in Digital Spaces to introduce the public to Extended Reality tools in relationship to race, gender, and culture and explore issues of cultural representation and exploitation through readings and discussion.

On the last two Saturdays of their Session, the artist will also curate “Black Movement in Digital Spaces,” a hands-on in person community gathering bringing together Black people in different fields, from different perspectives to dive into these questions with the community.

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Session 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.

Ways to experience the project

Calendar

About the artist

LaJuné McMillian

Artist

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LaJun-headshot.jpg

LaJuné McMillian is a new media artist, and Creative Technologist creating art that integrates performance, extended reality, and physical computing to question our current forms of communication. McMillian has shown and spoken about their work at Pioneer Works, National Sawdust, Leaders in Software and Art, Creative Tech Week, and Art && Code’s Weird Reality. The artist was previously the Director of Skating at Figure Skating in Harlem, where they integrated STEAM and Figure Skating to teach girls of color about movement and technology. They have continued their research on Blackness, Movement, and Technology during residencies at Eyebeam, Pioneer Works Barbarian Group, and Barnard College.

Artist website

Yvonne Mpwo

Curator

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IMG_6914-766x1024.jpg

Yvonne Mpwo (she/her) is a New York based, Congolese – American, independent curator whose intersectional curatorial practice anatomizes capital in both virtual and physical spaces. Yvonne began her socially engaged curatorial practice in Texas and moved to New York to collaborate with organizations and individuals dedicated to socially engaged art that increases artistic viewership, discourse, and community participation. Yvonne met LaJuné McMillian through her work at A Blade of Grass as a curator for projects in the Curriculum of the Future series. Yvonne is also President and Co-Founder of the nonprofit library and arts incubator Flatbush Commons.

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