“NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism presents a future that seems ultimately hopeful, and where women and people of color are part of a social and technological vanguard”
— The Verge

NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism. Photo: Hyphen Labs.
NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism Installation. Photo: Hyphen Labs.
Hyphen Labs, NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism Products. Photo: Courtesy of the Artists.
EceAshCar. Photo: Hyphen Labs.

NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism

About the Residency

Hyphen-Labs, Ida Ely Rubin Artists in Residence at the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, were hosted by William Uricchio, professor of Comparative Media Studies and principal investigator of the Open Documentary Lab, and Sarah Wolozin, director of the Open Documentary Lab. The artists collaborated with faculty and researchers in several MIT labs: Imagination, Computation and Expression; Synthetic Neurobiology; and the Center for Civic Media. Hyphen-Labs is developing the next phase of NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism, a three-part digital narrative at the intersection of product design, virtual reality (VR) and neuroscience, which explores the lack of multidimensional representations of black and brown women in technology and futurism.  

Hyphen-Labs believes that understanding the perception and malleability of body representations is crucial for identifying the impact of new media and technology on implicit bias across the spectrum of identity. To that end, they create large-scale experiences and installations that address design bias, using science fiction to imagine new worlds and propose alternative futures. Through collaborations with OpenDocLab and MIT researchers and students, Hyphen-Labs examined co-creation, embodied cognition, critical design and digital disruptions in the speculative design space. In addition to developing new products and chapters of the VR narrative, they continued research around implicit bias to identify the neural mechanisms engaged during embodied experiences.

This artist residency was supported by the Ida Ely Rubin Artists in Residence Fund.

Public Events

Past Events

Hacking XR Lecture Series: Whose Story? 
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 / 12:00-1:30pm
Open Doc Lab, E15-318
20 Ames Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Residency Visits

Visit #1: Ideation
Dates: February 26–28, 2018

Visit #2: Iteration
Dates: March 12–15, 2018

Visit #3: Prototyping
Dates: May 31–June 3, 2018

About the Artists

Hyphen-Labs is an international team of women of color working at the intersection of technology, art, science and the future led by Ashley Baccus-Clark, Ece Tankal and Carmen Aguilar y Wedge. Drawing from their global vision and unique perspectives, they develop meaningful and engaging ways to explore emotional, human-centered and speculative design. In the process, they challenge conventions and stimulate conversations, placing collective needs and experiences at the center of evolving narratives. Hyphen-Labs is pushing the boundaries of speculative design and morphing global dynamics.

Ashley Baccus-Clark is a Brooklyn-based molecular and cellular biologist and a multidisciplinary artist who uses new media and storytelling to examine themes of deep learning, cognition, memory, race, trauma and systems of belief. She is the director of research at Hyphen-Labs.

Ece Tankal is a Turkish-born designer and new media artist based in Barcelona. Tankal is interested in exploring the interventions and interactions related to bodily, spatial and temporal concepts through mixed media installations, VR experiences and speculative design. Trained in architecture, Tankal’s approach is to place the viewer as a natural extension of the micro- and macro-topographies created to expand and stretch the reality we currently occupy. She is a co-founder of Hyphen-Labs.

Carmen Aguilar y Wedge is a Latinx structural engineer and artist synthesizing design and technology to develop immersive transmedia experiences. She is a co-founder and creative director at Hyphen-Labs. Aguilar y Wedge is inspired by the tangibility of concepts translated into material expressions visualized through an aesthetic framework of science fiction, futurism and surrealism. Her work expands on the principles of emotional design. She blends themes of supertech, Humanity+, environmental and social issues through the context of architecture, robotics, VR, fashion, computation, comparative new media, music and smart materials.

More at the artists’ website: Hyphen-Labs

In the Media

“NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism presents a future that seems ultimately hopeful, and where women and people of color are part of a social and technological vanguard”

The Verge, January 2017

“With one foot grounded in contemporary reality and another in an imagined future, Hyphen-Labs renders both physical products and virtual reality narratives that specifically cater to black women.”

— Huffington Post

Sundance Institute: NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism

The New Yorker: “Reality Bites: Learning the Future of V.R. at Sundance”

IndieWire: “Afrofuturist Virtual Reality Installation Reimagines the Future for Women Of Color”

Tribeca Film Festival: NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism

NBC News: “Tribeca Film Festival 2017: ‘AfroFeminism’ and Electrodes Collide With VR”

The Root: “NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism Centers Black Women Here and Beyond”

Voices of VR Podcast: “#511: Neurospeculative Afrofeminism: Building the Future You Want to Live Into”

NPR: “Covert Fashion Provides Camouflage Against Surveillance Software”

CopyWrite Magazine: “The ‘Futuristic’ Lens to the Black Woman” (Issue 8: Creative Convergence, pp. 16–21)

i-D (VICE): “the female inventors exploring brain stimulation through braiding”

Broadly (VICE): “Women of Color Are Using VR to Imagine a More Inclusive World”

Sundance Blog: “How Globalization and Futurism are Impacting Inclusivity in Immersive Storytelling”