Afrotectopia's (first) Summer Camp

From July 29 - August 2nd, Afrotectopia was able to realize the first Afrotectopia Summer Camp. The Afrotectopia camp was designed to introduce NYC public, charter and parochial 6th-12th grades the incredible worlds at the intersections at art, design, technology, activism and culture. For free! Thanks to the sponsorship and hosting of Marymount School of New York, as well as the help of Cameron Partee, Ashley Jane Lewis, and Terrick Gutierrez.

Take a look at our week, below!

Day 1

On Monday, we played some ice breaker games to get comfortable around each other. Then we dived head first into coding. We learned and explored how we could code and build our own sound interactive illustrations using p5js. It was a very challenging exercise. But all students rose to the occasion! Many pushing themselves to realize works that deeply impressed themselves and their own true capabilities!

Day 2

On Tuesday, we learned about the work of AACM and AfriCOBRA, two monumental Chicago Black art collectives. We studied the musical works of artists within those collectives and discussed their version of activism - artivism. Such as how activism can take many forms and roles - with some including pure celebration of your culture, using your culture as an artistic medium to then champion your community. We championed our community today as we designed our own electronic instruments. We designed and sampled sounds, mixed them into the way our instrument operates, then had a class performance to wrap up the day.

Day 3

On Wednesday, we learned about the incredible work of W.E.B. Du Bois - especially his data visualizations. We explored a new form of activism (being informative as opposed to celebratory), as we analyzed how he used his own version of art to create opportunities for many to better understand the living conditions of Blacks in America during the late 19th century/early 20th century through data visualizations. We discussed how data visualizations are an excellent asset to marginalized communities because they allow us to realize that our conditions are not coincidences, but actually very common and a part of a deep systemic design. And, we explored how data visualizations can make it much easier to spread awareness on issues at it transforms confusing-to-read data into easily digestible visuals.

Day 4

On Thursday, we studied the work of the ACLU. We discussed how even though there are so many rights we should especially know, as U.S. citizens, we don’t. We studied different citizen rights we should be aware of in many of today’s unfortunately common scenarios (such as dealing with police, ICE, and racial discrimination in school/work places), and what we can do to protect ourselves and the safety of those around us. We brainstormed ways we could turn these different categories of rights, from the rights of protesters to the rights when dealing with the police, into stop motion animation films for the mass public to be able to consume. We storyboarded the film, created the script, built our characters and props out of paper and clay, filmed our story, edited and recorded our voice over, all in about 4 hours of studio time!

Day 5

For our final day, Friday, we reflected on our week. Having practiced many different forms of activism to combat today, we were also missing an important form of activism that gives us hope for tomorrow. If we’re combating today, we must also be aware of what we want tomorrow to look like? And, if we want to live in a more beautiful world, it is up to us to create that world. So, we studied the work of Congolese Bodys Isek Kingelez in his futurist sculpting work. We discussed how he used politics and philosophy to inform his designs as he created entire architectural mockups of whole cities. We brainstormed what sorts of spaces we’d like our city to have, where they would be placed, why, and how our cities would make people feel. We presented our quick prototypes and discussed our ideas. Then we wrapped up the day by having a virtual dance battle! We quickly did tutorials on creating environments in virtual space, and designing and animating 3d characters. Our dance off ended up being a tie, but fun nonetheless!

What a week! A week filled with art, creative technology, radical discussions, cultural expression, new ways to use technology, speculation, learning where we come from and where we want to go, building friendships, gaining skills and expanding our imaginations. Campers, we are so proud of the work you were able to do. And, we can’t wait to see you next Summer!

All the best,

Ari Melenciano

Founder and Producer, Afrotectopia

Ari Melenciano