Category Archives: Science/Technology

“Space:Queens”: Poetic Inventions Workshop


Hey everyone! I have exciting news! On June 26th from 2:30-5pm, I will be facilitating a workshop at the Lewis Latimer House Museum!

If you are not aware, Lewis Latimer was a 19th-early 20th century African-American self-taught inventor and draftsman, who worked with Thomas Edison and was greatly involved in the development of the light bulb, specifically in the production of carbon filaments. He lived in the same house in Flushing, Queens, which was later moved to location it is now and was turned into a museum. Not only was Latimer an inventor, but he also was a poet, playwright and painter. He was truly a polymath!

My workshop will explore the intersections between writing, invention and social change, three areas important to Latimer; we will analyze his poetry (and also a poem inspired by one of his poems); and attendees will be given prompts to write their own poetry. If you are in NYC and are interested, please RSVP at the email in the flyer!

I hope to see you there!IMG_0442

 

Space:Queens: Yvonne Shortt


Yvonne
Yvonne Shortt

Hey everybody! Welcome to the first installment of my Space:Queens segment, where I explore afrofuturistic art, culture and influencers in my home borough of Queens, NY!

First up is Yvonne Shortt, who is the creative director of RPGA Studio, Inc., and is the curator for Queens Art Initiative, where she works on several community-based art and technology projects in the borough. Enjoy!

 

1)  Tell the readers a little bit about yourself and and what inspired your love of technology and math.

I’m an an artist, mathematician, African American female, technologist, and mother. My inspiration came from my uncle who started a company to help the  deaf communicate with others and my mom who bought me my first computer, a Commodore 64. Also my aunt, her belief that hard work makes all possible shaped me.

 

2)    How do you see Queens as a place of possibility and speculative/futuristic exploration?

We have so many people from so many countries and this diversity is an amazing power to draw from. It reminds me to use diversity in my work in my exploration – diversity including art, design, technology, education… This is what makes my work important and relevant I think.

 

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The My-Stery: Animism, Cybernetics and Adaptability


“Android/Negroid # 1” by Wayne Hodge

Ever since my mother received her smart phone, she has constantly been coming to me with numerous questions about how to use it. She has such a difficult time adapting to how it works no matter how many times I show her. No matter how much she uses the smart phone, I don’t think she fully connects or pays attention to it in order to learn. She cannot learn how to use the smart phone if she does not open herself to learning how to use it. Half the time when I am showing her what to do, I am not exactly sure what I am doing myself; I am figuring it out as I go along based on a set of knowledge I have learned already from smart phones and just playing around with it. I try to work with the phone based on how it might move or based on the signs it gives.

Sometimes, I think she sees technology as a magic device that will just do for her and she doesn’t want to take the energy to work with it, to move with it. Sometimes, I think that she thinks of God in that way, too. God is somewhat detached from herself as much as the technology is and she lets it remain that way. This experience with my mother stirred my thoughts on our interaction with God (or higher spirit) and technology. Maybe we should see God (or higher spirit) much like the character Lauren Olamina does in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. If “God Is Change,” I have to learn its fundamentals and adapt with it. I have to interconnect with it as if it is a part of me, as if we are extensions of each other, that I have to attach it to me and bend it to my image to survive and grow as much as it bends and changes my image. As for technology, it should be looked at in a similar fashion. It adapts to you as much as you adapt to it.

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The My-Stery: Why STEM Fields Need an A(rt)…


Picture from boxset of science films of Jean Painlevé

A few days ago I witnessed a twitter battle between astrologist Sam F. Reynolds and Science Nerd/Blogger Rai Elise on November 5th (click on view conversation to read her tweets) over the legitimacy of astrology and the conversation highlighted some important and common conflicts between art fields and science/math/technology fields. Reynolds says some key things in his argument that I wanted to spotlight (I rearranged the tweets):

“Science is only as good as its tools, like everything else…The tools of science have their limits like anything else. People seek astrology for meaning. Science may do that less for ppl.”

“I don’t have a hope of an objective reality. Even with our scientific tools, we see the cosmos as we are…It’s not objective reality we’re talking about. It’s consensual reality…We’re not talking about tools of science, but what inspires them and the net meaning derived from them”

About electricity: “That’s still a consensual use of a force that most of animal kingdom has no use for. Not free of subjectivity”

“You say it’s not true, but do we have independent & known perceptions of things from other species on this planet?”

“Astrology ultimately comments on behavior using planets as references…Astrology isn’t about studying nature, but the study of human nature as symbolized by celestial phenomena…The natural world has its motions, but how we assign meaning is the province of all other arts. Are they less important? …Astrology is poetry applied to celestial events. What’s to prove with poetry?”

Continue reading The My-Stery: Why STEM Fields Need an A(rt)…

Modern Griots Reviews: Apeshit + The Creation of the Humanoids – The Politics of Obsolescence


From The Creation of the Humanoids

This morning I heard that communication companies are attempting to rid us of phone landlines and replace them with wireless service only, and it reminded me of the two films I saw last night, Leah Gilliam‘s movie Apeshit and Wesley E. Barry‘s The Creation of the Humanoids.

Gilliam spoke at the showings of the film about her use of “obsolete technology” in creating a film using 8mm reduction film print of Battle for the Planet of the Apes and the hosts of the event finding also spoke of finding the rare print of Barry’s film. But the old technology also correlated with the themes of obsolescence in both films.

As mentioned here, Gilliam’s use of old film formats and technologies, including silent film dialogue cards, created a conversation around political ideologies and rhetoric that are now out-of-date, such as the ideas of tolerance, inferiority of different beings and assimilation.

Barry’s film, instead of having the humans and the alienness of humanized apes, has it between humans and androids. After an atomic war kills of over 90% of the humans on the planet, the humans left begin creating robots to compensate. But there is an antagonism between the androids, who are disparagingly called “the clickers,” and some of the humans. But the twist at the end is that some of the humans who think they are humans, are actually androids. They found out that there has been a secret process to transfer the memories and experiences of the humans left into robotic bodies through a “thalamic transplant” to keep them living because human bodies are becoming “obsolete” after the atomic bomb.

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Modern Griots Reviews: Black Girls Code


Me and Bryant
Me and Bryant

Where was Black Girls Code when I was younger?! Event today, black women make up less than 3% of the STEM industries and other women of color is lower, less than 1%.

Last Thursday, I attended the showing of the Black Girls Code short documentary and fundraising event. Already having taught over 1500 girls across the country, the organization wants to change those statistics above and hope to reach one million all over the world by 2040, maybe earlier, 2020.

The organization’s founder, Kimberly Bryant, an electrical engineer, created the non-profit after noticing the lack of women, specifically women of color in these fields, and recognizing that her daughter, Kai, was using the technology, but not creating it. Besides that, with computer classes costing thousands of dollars and lack of computer science in grade schools, it is difficult for younger children from lower class backgrounds to obtain that knowledge. Through summer camps, one-day.one-topic class, 6-7 week Saturday classes, mobile labs, and working with other organizations and schools, they want to open the doors of opportunity for them.

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Otherworldly Videos: Hip-Hop and Science Fiction


Ethiopian-American rapper Gabriel Teodros of group Copperwire, gives a speech about hip-hop, media corporations and technology, activism, and afrofuturism. Some of the quotable parts from it:

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