AFROTECTOPIA began as a a new media arts, culture and technology festival designed to recognize the contributions of Black artists, designers, technologists and activists; as well as build community amongst creatives currently working at the intersection of art, design, technology, activism and Blackness.
The festival was created by Ari Melenciano during her last year of graduate school at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP).
Afrotectopia began with a vision and a zero-dollar budget. After immediate support from NYU (especially ITP and other departments) and quickly going viral, the festival created a wave in the New York City tech scene - selling out shortly after being announced, building a vibrant community of Black innovators (300 attendees, 1,700 engaged online), investing over $10,000 in Black/People of Color businesses, and creating a $5,000 scholarship for an incoming Black ITP student.
The festival was experienced through a variety of different panels, performances, skill-sharing workshops, film screenings, lightning presentations, think tanks and more.
AFROTECTOPIA is excited to host our 2nd annual festival in New York City during the summer of 2019.
Afrotectopia is expanding to also host a variety of events throughout the year. Including gatherings and presentations at New INC, Eyebeam and more. We are also piloting our Afrotectopia Summer Camp at Marymount School of New York.
About the Founder
Afrotectopia was founded by Ari Melenciano during her second year of grad school at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). Ari Melenciano is a Brooklyn-based Dominican-American interdisciplinary audio/visual artist, designer, creative technologist, researcher, futurist, humanist and educator who is passionate about exploring the relationships between various forms of design and the human experience.
Her research lies at the intersections of art, design, imaginative uses of human-computer interactive technologies for creativity, digital activism, societal impacts of tech, race, culture, experiential design, experimental pedagogy, geo-political activism, and speculative design.
She is currently a research fellow at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), creative technology educator, founder and producer of New Media Arts, Culture and Technology Festival, Afrotectopia, Denver University Contributor-in-Residence, Laundromat Project Create Change Fellow, Culture Hub resident and consultant for NYC’s Dept of Education’s #CS4ALL initiative to build culturally relevant curriculum within STEAM. She recently received her master's from NYU's ITP, where she explored the possibilities when merging art, design, technology and engineering through creative computation, physical computing and experiential design.
In Fall 2019, she’ll be an adjunct professor at NYU teaching courses in NYU’s undergraduate photography department, as well as NYU’s interactive telecommunications graduate program.
WHY do We exist?
At a time when racial injustice and systematic oppression still create large barriers for Black creatives, it is important to cultivate community that allows for easy dissemination of knowledge, opportunities and possibilities in the efforts to realize a more just and equitable world.
Through presentations, open-dialogue, and thoughtful forms of engagement, Afrotectopia intends to create a space that welcomes visionary thinking and explores ways to act.
At Afrotectopia, we are especially passionate about catalyzing Black agency through the celebration of culture and the use of new media arts and technology.