We are excited to announce a large-scale public outdoor performance organized by new media artist, creative technologist, and educator LaJuné McMillian, hosted by Brooklyn Public Library on Grand Army Plaza on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, from 8:30PM to 10:00PM. The performance, which is the culmination of a digital workshop series organized by A Blade of Grass as part of our ongoing Curriculum for the Future initiative, will showcase work and research from McMillian’s ongoing project Black Movement Library and is curated by independent curator Yvonne Mpwo.
Taking the form of multiple short acts, the evening will feature both live and prerecorded “Movement Portraits,” or 2D video representations of peoples’ movements created using perception neuron motion-capture suits. Four Black New York-based performing artists will create their “Movement Portraits” live in front of the audience, dancing on the plaza in front of the Library and sending their movement data to be translated into projected visuals in real-time. The evening will also include pre-recorded videos of “Movement Portraits” created by participants in the workshop series earlier this year. During the intermission, the audience will have the opportunity to participate in the creation and archiving of movements collaboratively through sharing their own movements to be projected.
Black Movement Library is an archival project launched by McMillian in 2018 as an online database of motion capture data from Black performers and Black character base models, who are currently misrepresented and underrepresented in existing online databases. It seeks to gather diverse data, making the data pool more accurate and inclusive, while growing community through the use of performances, extended reality (XR) experiences, workshops, conversations, and tool making. McMillian’s six-part digital workshop, titled Understanding, Transforming, and Preserving Movement in Digital Space, took place from late March to late April as part of our Curriculum for the Future series. In the workshop, McMillian invited participants to learn about XR tools and their relationship to race, gender, and culture. McMillian and workshop participants explored issues of cultural representation, erasure, and exploitation through readings and discussions as well as learned about motion capture, avatars, rigging, and 3D environments. In addition to continuing the development of the Black Movement Library archive, the workshop culminated in the creation of the “Movement Portraits” that will be projected outside of Brooklyn Public Library on Grand Army Plaza.