What began as a festival designed to recognize the contributions of Black artists, designers, technologists, entrepreneurs and activists, is now in full Afro-futuristic bloom.
When Ari Melenciano would travel from Brooklyn to Manhattan as a graduate student, she noticed glaring disparities that popped up during her commute. As she rode the bus, the landscape and the upkeep of communities shifted drastically.
As well, the interdisciplinary artist, researcher and creative technologist saw inequities in race in the tech space; especially when acquiring capital for entrepreneurial pursuits. As a result, her experiences pushed her to form Afrotectopia in 2017, during her last year of graduate school at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)..
Without a budget, Melenciano pooled resources and volunteer to support to craft the new media, arts, culture and technology festival around Black folk and people of color. The inaugural event, which took place at NYU, sold out in weeks.
Now in its second year, Afrotectopia will be held at Google NYC and has expanded by adding two components: a research lab and social institution. Included in the annual festival are a series of events throughout the year. From gatherings and presentations at New INC, Eye-beam, Melenciano also just completed an Afrotectopia Summer Camp, five-day program for students entering sixth to twelfth grade. Held at Marymount School of New York, students were exposed to music technology, digital activism, animation, creative coding, designing for the future, and social entrepreneurship.
What a week. To say we’re proud of you all is an understatement. Until next summer! ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/d2IMLYN9hZ
— Afrotectopia (@Afrotectopia) August 3, 2019
Along with the festival, Melenciano works to create consistent community with series of events that continue to offer ways and spaces that creatives currently working at the intersection of art, design, technology, activism and Blackness can meet.
With two weeks away, Afrotectopia’s main festival gears up to continue to dismantle racism in tech culture and moreover, continue dialogue and innovation in the intersections of technology, media, arts and entrepreneurship.
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