"Language is an interactive phenomenon" - Charles Goodwin

This is where this art project started.  Viewing the "N word", in all its formats, as a playground for Blackness.  It has remained bound to Black people so when you strip the people away, what are we left with?  That interaction is what I invite you participate in.  Each piece is an interaction with context to see what I could discover around Blackness. 

In an exploration of Blackness, the N-word is debated territory. Historically, the word was forced on Black property and now it has become Black property. What could this word reveal about Blackness? By triangulating the word's multiple contexts, it's meaning to our existence would show itself.  

The historical context of nigger was used for White supremacy against Black existence.  The current context of nigga is used by Black people to connect Black existence. We have generationally altered its spelling, pronunciation, and varieties of context. Right or wrong, the control has shifted from a Blackness that was in opposition to White power and now it represents a Blackness that aims to control its own power on its own terms.  The tense interaction around the N-word shows how the two worlds of Blackness overlap and are in constant motion, just like in the artwork. 

The N-word isn’t static. If language is an interactive phenomenon that reveals how we create our societal world, this word is a pinball in the machine. It has been morphed, remixed, censored, banned, discussed, sung, rapped, hated, and loved.  In these interactions, ownership has transitioned from White to Black people shaping its context.

The word exists in a transitory state that spans a wide spectrum that the art needed to reflect. The "lighted" artwork projects a colored perspective and makes the other side of Blackness more prominent.  It emerges when you saturate one perspective. In a world of Niggas, Niggers appear. In a world of Niggers, Niggas appear. It’s an interesting paradox that illustrates that our identity isn’t fixed or situated in one place. The N-word lacks stability and so does Blackness, it changes from moment to moment.  History stands firm while the present is in constant evolution.  This is what the art process revealed.  A word being held captive by notions of Black identity, when Black identity cannot be held captive by a word.


Artwork_header.jpg

The Ying and Yang of Blackness. The spectrum of love and hate and everything in between.  Existing on both sides is part of the complexity of Black existence.

YING/YANG  2016
16” x 20” , Oil on Canvas + Smart Lighting


how_it_works.jpg

This project places art and science together on a canvas.  Leveraging the principles of color subtraction and addition the art gained movement.  The paint pigments paired with colored light allowed the eye to perceive something altered. The paint appears darker when the colored light does not share complementary colors. This allowed me to overlay words and then isolate them as the colored light changed.  The new media concept was mediated through technology and light.

New Media Black art

I used a pair of Philips Hue smart lighting bulbs.  The lights were programmed with the LightBow app to sequence between specific colors. This experimentation wouldn't be possible without those pieces of hardware and software.



*Please note, this section is not for the debate of the N-word but rather a discussion about how you perceive it contributes to an understanding of Black identity.  Focus energies on thinking about what these various contextual variations reveal.

Thank you for joining in the journey.