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Newsome and Winger-Bearskin: Technologies of Justice and Aesthetics of Artificial Intelligence

Date and Time: 
Thursday, April 15, 2021. 04:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Arts and Justice 2020
Meeting Description: 

In the first spring event of Arts + Justice research workshop, we gather to consider technologies of justice, with particular attention to the humanistic potential and precarity of artificial intelligence. Featuring visiting artists Rashaad Newsome, for a presentation on “Being (The Digital Griot),” and Amelia Winger-Bearskin, on “Hopeful Worlds,” as moderated by the esteemed Michele Elam, these artist-technologists reflect on imagining the world otherwise, through virtual and visceral modes of engagement.

Rashaad Newsome lives and works in Oakland, California. He was born in 1979 in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he received a BFA in art history at Tulane University in 2001. In 2004, he studied digital post production at Film/Video Arts Inc. NYC, and in 2005 he studied creative coding at Harvestworks Digital Media Art Center, NYC. Rashaad has exhibited and performed in galleries, museums, institutions, and festivals throughout the world, and his works are in numerous public and private collections. Being (The Digital Griot), Rashaad Newsome's work blends several practices, including collage, sculpture, film, photography, music, computer programming, software engineering, community organizing, and performance, to create a new field that rejects classification. Using the diasporic traditions of improvisation and collage, he pulls from the world of advertising, the Internet, art history, Black and Queer culture to produce counter-hegemonic work that walks the tightrope between creative computing, social practice, abstraction, and intersectionality. Collage acts as a theoretical, conceptual, and technical method to construct a new cultural framework of power that does not find others' oppression necessary. Newsome's work celebrates Black contributions to the art canon and creates innovative and inclusive forms of culture and media.

Amelia Winger-Bearskin is an artist/technologist who helps communities leverage emerging technologies to effect positive change in the world. She is a senior technical training specialist at Contentful in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2019 she was an invited presenter to His Holiness Dalai Lama’s World Headquarters in Dharamsala for the Summit on Fostering Universal Ethics and Compassion. She founded IDEA New Rochelle, which partnered with the NR Mayor’s office to develop citizen-focused VR/AR tools and was awarded the 2018 Bloomberg Mayors Challenge $1 million dollar grant to prototype their AR Citizen toolkit. She is a Google VR JUMP Start creator, co-directing with Wendy Red Star a 360 video story about Native American monsters which was selected for a McArthur Grant through the Sundance Institute Native New Frontiers Story Lab 2018. It is on display at Newark Museum beginning February 2019. Amelia was a professor of time-based media art and performance art at Vanderbilt University for five years before graduating from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in 2015. In 2016 she went on to found and direct the DBRS Innovation Lab. Amelia is the founder of the Stupid Hackathon and is a fellow of the Sundance New Frontiers Story Lab, a Sundance Institute Time Warner Fellow, and in 2018 was awarded Engadget Alternative Realities Prize for her VR experience Your Hands Are Feet. She was a member of the 2017-2018 cohort at NEW INC, the incubator of the New Museum in NYC. In 2016 she was an Oculus Launch Pad Fellow and an Artist in Residence at Pioneer Works 2016. Her art is part of the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum and the McCord Museum. Amelia is Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation of Oklahoma, Deer Clan.

Michele Elam (moderator) is the William Robertson Coe Professor of Humanities in the English Department at Stanford University, a faculty associate director of the Insittute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence and a race and technology affiliate at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Elam’s research in interdisciplinary humanities connects literature and the social sciences in order to examine changing cultural interpretations of gender and race. Making Race in the Age of AI, her most recent book project, considers how the humanities and arts function as key crucibles through which to frame and address urgent social questions about equity in emergent technologies. She is teaching a new course, "AI + Arts + Activism," in spring 2021.

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This event will be Thursday, April 15, from 4:30-6:00pm PDT. Please respond at least 24 hours ahead of time. If you need a disability-related accommodation, please contact Devin Garnick at or (650) 497-9905. Requests should be made at least one week in advance of the event. We look forward to this conversation, and hope you will join!


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