SAY HER NAME
SAY HER NAME is a narrative-shifting and interactive portrait. It aims to celebrate and commemorate the life of Sandra Bland, who was wrongfully arrested and later murdered at the hands of law enforcement. Officials claimed she committed suicide, a narrative amplified by mainstream media.
After her death, activists and protesters across America began the #SayHerName movement as a means to honor and remember the names of Black women and girls who have been killed due to anti-black violence and police brutality in the US.
This piece invites you to say Sandra Bland’s name aloud, keeping her story at the front of our collective consciousness. This project is a form of restorative justice. Once a viewer says her name aloud, the portrait transitions from invisible to visible, by bringing the portrait to full brightness. In addition to the portrait illuminating once the her name is said, her name is printed out each time it is said by a viewer as a data collection of how many times her name was said.
This project was made in technical collaboration with Simone Ava Salvo and Elizabeth Pérez.
Media: Arduino Genuino Uno, p5.js, Neopixels, ultrasonic sensor, thermal printer, acrylic sheet, fish wire, repurposed shadow box
Outside of being conceptually inspired by the "#SayHerName movement, the aesthetic inspiration of this project came to me when thinking about light and LED's. The reasons why humans are so drawn to lights is an infatuating theory; one that I've just recently became interested in while here at ITP. What I feel is that there are differences across the world's wide range of visual culture. Moreover that certain theories, and even objects carry a variety of symbolic meanings based on culture, geographic region, class, gender, and race. To me, light translates to power, but in a more figurative sense. Light also has a relationship to darkness, in that they are technically and figuratively opposites. I grew up seeing so many candle light ceremonies take over my neighborhood. I think about the differences in what kinds of lights set what mood. Which is how I arrived at making Say Their Name.
I hit a challenge with trying to make the portrait look more photorealistic. I was inspired by the iconographic image of Che Guevara. The black and white threshold of his portrait has been engraved in my mind ever since my mother brought me back a t-shirt of that same portrait from Cuba. I felt that it could be powerful to make her image into a visual icon. It's unfortunate, and also disturbing that when you do a google search for "Sandra Bland," the first image that comes up is here in here mugshot, which is the same mugshot that is believed to be her lying on the floor, already dead. This isn't how we would want to remember our loved ones, so I wanted to restore that. I also have never really felt confident in my drawing skills, so I wanted to move away from illustrating, to having a realistic depiction of her, to respectfully represent her.
To make the portrait, I used a process called "total internal reflection." Professor Ben Light suggested using this technique, as I described to him that I wanted the portrait to be close to invisible, and then revealed after something happens.
I did extensive research on this process, and the material that is used to for it is called "lucite acrylic." What separates lucite acrylic from regular plastic acrylic is that it has special light diffusing capabilities that allow for light to pass through the inner-surfaces of the material when cut or etched onto with a laser. In order to achieve the full affect of invisible to visible, the lucite material reads vector lines, and best, rather than whole figures and images. The challenge involved thinking about how to achieve a beautiful portrait, but while also making sure the portrait was able to be depicted through lines. So, for the final iteration, I broke up her portrait, pixel by pixel, and line by line in photoshop.
For the code, we had to make a p5 sketch for the voice recognition in order for p5 to recognize Sandra's name to send to Arduino through serial communication.
Click on an artist to play a song. Click in the grey space to stop the song.
I collaborated with Julie Lizardo on this sketch. We explored making buttons through code, implementing visual icons, and sound. This idea derived from a conversation between myself and Julie. I discovered that Julie majored in Biology during undergrad, but when one of her professors introduced computer science/coding to her, she discovered something new that she was capable of.
Although Julie and I come from two different backgrounds, one thing that stood as a common ground between us was our love of music. As an icebreaker, I asked Julie to list the kinds of music that she liked. It turned out that we both had eclectic tastes in music, but Hip-Hop was a genre that we were both excited about and agreed on. I suggested making buttons, and then together, we shortly brainstormed what the reaction would be after the button was pressed. The obvious element that we landed on was sound.
I started by finding photographs of performing artists/rappers who have been deemed icons in pop culture. I have an obsession with iconography and the symbols associated with it, and how they're selected. I wanted to riff off of the vibrating speaker from last week and apply it to this code to visualize the sound and the source it came from.
What currently happens is that how many ever times one presses the icon, the song will play numerous times, overlapping each time, resulting in this chaotic mess of sound. The "jump" function is what allowed us to play the song from a specific timecode in the song.
It was important while creating the icons in photoshop for me to implement a circle in the background of the portrait. Julie made note of this. It was a matter of being able to identify the radius of the circle, so that the mousePressed function would activate. Finding the radius of asymmetrical symbol would have been difficult, thus we arrived at the circle.
Boom Bap Box
Project by Nailah F. Davis and Stacy Yuan
Demo and user testing of the Boom Bap Box. Select Full Screen mode for best viewing quality.
As a percussionist and visual artist, I had an idea to recreate a MIDI sound controller using arcade buttons. I was inspired by the Maschine MK3 controller and its functions. One thing that I wanted to add to the concept of a MIDI controller was a visual element. Like most MIDI controllers (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), sound is generated once a button is pressed. However, with this project, I wanted there to not only be a sound generated from pressing a button, but also a visual affect to appear on a monitor/screen display.
In the video above, you are able to see different people test out the device. I wanted to try and create a way to do VJing and DJing through one device. This was initially designed for two users to collaborate on. There are 12 buttons. 6 buttons on one side holds mostly percussion sounds, and the other side holds synths. There are 4 potentiometers, 3 of them control audio filters and affects, the 4th one controls image affects, and allows you to turn on your laptop webcam so you can see yourself as live performance. Lastly, there are two slider potentiometers that control volume levels of the audio.
I was able to put this project together in collaboration with a programmer by the name of Stacy Yuan. Stacy helped with the coding and assisted with the fabrication of the box.