Artist in ResidencyMirabelle Jones - fall 2020

Artist in Residency – Mirabelle Jones 

Catch is pleased to present our artist-in-residence for fall 2020 Mirabelle Jones. This residency will span two months in September and October. For this residency, Jones will create a selection of interactive technology-infused products inspired by works of science fiction written by a diverse group of authors. These works encompass: feminist science fiction, afrofuturism, queer science fiction, Japanese magical realism, and Chinese hard science fiction. The project investigates the role of science fiction in real world technologies while also considering dynamics of sex, gender, and race. Who gets to design future technologies and how do those technologies reflect the values and interests of their creators? The project will result in a series of tutorials and educational materials that will be disseminated online. Both a virtual exhibition and a physical exhibition at Catch have been planned for the completion of the project mid-November 2020.

 

An Exhibition of Future Products 

The world of (esp. Western) science fiction is often depicted as belonging to and centering white, Western, male and heteronormative characters and ideas. More recently, international Science Fiction has become of interest to Western and European readers although Science Fiction both influencing and influenced by Western and European writers has long been a focus for authors worldwide.

Authors such as Octavia Butler, Nnedi Okorafor, and N.K. Jemesin among others have released works from an afrofuturist perspective reclaiming the current importance of black narratives from a history of systemic injustice by envisioning possibilities of black futures. Chinese and Chinese-American speculative science fiction authors such as Ted Chiang, Ken Liu, Cixin Liu, and Tang Fei among others have developed works in keeping with the genre of hard science fiction but which blend elements of Chinese history with considerations of the future. Meanwhile, Japanese authors such as Haruki Murakami, Hiromi Kawakami, and Yōko Tawada have built up a Japanese fork of the Magical Realism genre through character-driven stories which incorporate magical and surreal elements, exploring the realities and potential realities of Japanese characters. While this list is in no way exhaustive of world science fiction, the authors and the works mentioned serve to illustrate some examples of approaches various cultures have taken to exploring future technologies. 

The project will select elements of these stories (specifically devices and technologies mentioned within the works) and realize them as interactive objects. The objects will be displayed alongside notes or video regarding the process of creating the object based on the fictional text. In this way, the project serves as an homage to worldwide science fiction authors and concepts while also exploring the relationship between Science Fiction and Future Technology Product Design and Development and in particular how our objects are imbued with culture. The project is rooted in a belief that the future belongs to us all and thus diversity among designers and developers is essential.

 

Educational Toolkit

Throughout the residency, tutorials including source code will be created describing the design and development process behind each object. These materials will cover topics such as programming in Python and C/C++ (Arduino), physical computing, embedded electronics, and fabrication processes such as 3D printing. This toolkit can be disseminated online to extend the project’s reach and usefulness as a topic of discussion, inspiration and education.

Part of the residency at Catch will overlap with a one week mini retreat at The Recurse Center in Brooklyn, New York (held online). This one-week intensive will result in the creation of a guide to algorithms designed for learners coming from outside of the field of Computer Science. This guide will be included as part of the Educational Toolkit. 

 

Virtual Exhibition

In order to extend the project’s reach and also because it is uncertain what regulations around COVID19 will exist, we will hold a virtual exhibition that will be permanently available.