Bringing Kreyòl music and digital poetry to MIT
CAST Visiting Artist BIC is a Haitian rapper, poet and singer visiting MIT in April 2019. BIC began working with Professor of Digital Media Nick Montfort and Professor of Linguistics Michel DeGraff in fall 2017 to create digital literary art in Kreyòl. They used “Sentaniz,” a well-known story written by Haitian writer Maurice Sixto, as the storytelling basis for BIC’s digital work entitled, Sentaniz Nimerik.
The cross-pollination of Kreyòl linguistics, poetry, computer science, and music continues at MIT for one week in April 2019. As part of MIT Sounding, BIC performs his work in collaboration with musicians, dancers, and performers from MIT and the greater Cambridge area. BIC’s residency includes workshops in Kreyòl digital poetry and music making. The residency aims to facilitate opportunities for both the MIT campus and the broader Haitian community in and around Boston to experience new cultural expressions of digital poetry and music making in Kreyòl.
Poet, rapper-slammer BIC (Roosevelt Saillant) is a singer who uses the art of rhyme and navigates both poetic melodies and intense rhythms to create a successful synthesis between rap and folk. A recognized lyricist in Kreyòl (Hatitian Creole), his songs and writing are now studied in Haitian universities.
Coming to music via hip hop, BIC made his stage debut in 2000 with the band Flex. He then founded, with his fellow countryman John Mogene, the group BIC (for Brain-Intelligence-Creativity), with which he produced two albums: Wow (2005) and Farther (2008). In 2010, he began a solo career, keeping the name of BIC and performing under his new label Tizon Dife Recordz.
BIC has established himself as one of the essential artists of the Haitian music scene, performing regularly on North American stages. Winner of the 2014 “Visas for Creation” program organized by the French Institute, BIC was in residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris for three months, during which he finalized his fifth album Recto-Verso. BIC participated in the 2014 and 2015 editions of the MaMA, and performed in Armenia as part of the 31st Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie.
BIC released his latest album VOKABI-LARI on May 18, 2016 after a national tour. Before performing in Boston in 2017, he collaborated with MIT’s Nick Montfort and Michel DeGraff on a project exploring the connections that can be woven with music and poetry. This was followed by a performance on the stage of the World Music African Art Festival (WOMAAF) in Tangier, Morocco.
Since October 2017, BIC has been a Handicap International Ambassador for a major awareness campaign on road safety.
Karaoke Kreyòl, followed by an appearance by BIC
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 / 8:00pm
Brothers’ Kafe Kreyòl
299 Main Street, Everett, MA
BIC in Concert, featuring Jean Appolon Expressions
Friday, April 5, 2019 / 8:00pm
Lobdell, MIT Building W20
84 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
As part of MIT Sounding, Haitian rapper, poet and singer BIC will perform his work in collaboration with Jean Appolon Expressions, a Cambridge-based Haitian contemporary dance company.
“Tout Istwa Se Istwa: Cultural Story Machines” Digital Story-Telling Workshop
With BIC, Professor of Digital Media Nick Montfort, and Professor of Linguistics Michel DeGraff
Tuesday, April 2, 2019 / 5:00-7:00pm
MIT Building 66-154
In Haiti there is a Kreyòl saying tout moun se moun—everyone is someone—meaning that everyone deserves equal respect.
“Tout Istwa Se Istwa (all stories are stories): Cultural Story Machines” is a hands-on workshop for sharing cultural stories on the web, using simple but effective computational techniques to show different text each time a page is reloaded. Those who participate will, over the course of the two-hour long workshop, develop web-based stories that invite people to learn about different cultures and see from different perspectives.
MIT community members from all cultures are welcome to come and bring traditional stories, in any language—tout lang se lang!
BIC, a singer, songwriter, and poet who visits MIT from Haiti, will work with participants as they build story machines from their traditional stories. During his MIT visit in September 2017, BIC worked with Professor of Linguistics Michel DeGraff and Professor of Digital Media Nick Montfort to author “Sentaniz Nimerik,” a Haitian story in Kreyòl presented in computational form on the web. This April 2019 workshop is organized by BIC, Michel DeGraff, and Nick Montfort because every single language deserves equal respect and can bring out the joy of story-telling through literature, linguistics, and computation.
“Vwayaj” Movement Workshop with Jean Appolon
Friday, April 5, 2019 / 1:00-3:00pm
MIT Building W97-162
Focused on the immigrant experience and one’s sense of home and belonging, the workshop includes an all-levels master class in Haitian folkloric dance taught by Jean Appolon, director of the Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE) Haitian contemporary dance company. The class is followed by information sharing about JAE’s evening-length production Vwayaj and a conversation between Jean Appolon and the workshop participants. Attendees learn about Appolon’s personal story of immigration from Haiti and are encouraged to share their unique experiences and reflections around immigration.
“Here’s an artist who looks out of life’s window, and writes the realities he sees”
Michel DeGraff, Professor, Linguistics, MIT
Nick Montfort, Professor of Digital Media, Comparative Media Studies/Writing (CMS/W), MIT
Patricia Tang, Associate Professor of World Music, Music and Theater Arts, MIT