Black Movement Pop Up Library
LaJuné McMillian and Yvonne Mpwo
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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November 11, 2023–January 25, 2024
Marcela Torres and Assembly
September 14–November 10, 2023
KING COBRA and Hue Hallums