Just for documentation purposes, here are the initial project ideas I had for my "Socially Engaged Art and Digital Practice" class. The prompt was simply to come up with three possibilities for socially engaged art projects.

  1. Collaborating with people incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses to depict, not exactly addiction per se, but the psychic and personal circumstances under which one might seek out drugs. Ideally the form would be immersive multimedia, for maximum impact on the viewer.
  2. Black participants are asked to geotag locations where they felt watched with suspicion. The artist would return to these locations later, and place stickers of security cameras. In the lens of the security camera graphic would be short descriptions such as "black male, 5' 8"", of the kind used by police. Additionally, a map of the locations would be displayed online.
  3. A physical bitcoin: shaped like the bitcoin logo, it would be composed of materials representing the resource cost of generating a bitcoin - rare earth metals, plastic, and coal to represent energy consumption.

I chose the second idea for class discussion, since I was most interested in hearing feedback on it from black folks. I thought it was an interesting idea, but knew that as a white person I shouldn't just implement my own ideas in such a space without consulting with the community involved. It sparked a lot of interesting discussion. The general consensus from my black classmates seemed to be:

  1. Black folks would probably be very motivated to add locations to the map, and it could be useful as a tool in and of itself, regardless of any artistic value.
  2. Implementing it right would definitely mean working closely with one or more black collaborators.
  3. The surveillance camera graphics might be uncomfortable to people in the community, so I would probably want to work with my collaborator(s) to rethink that part.