“Hip hop is much more than a musical genre. It is a global phenomenon, with a rich history and massive social and cultural impact. We wanted to tell stories that pushed beyond stereotypical representations, digging into the complexities of empowering representations that are often left as stories untold.”
—D. Fox Harrell, Project Lead and Professor of Digital Media and Artificial Intelligence, Comparative Media Studies/Writing and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), MIT; Director, Center for Advanced Virtuality, MIT
The [R]Evolution of Hip Hop Breakbeat Narratives is a collaboration between the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality, the Universal Hip Hop Museum (opening in 2023), and Microsoft. The exhibit employs artificial intelligence (AI) to create layered, personalized experiences—taking museumgoers on an interactive journey through hip hop history, from the 1970s to the present.
Exhibit visitors are greeted by five characters called “The Elementals,” named after the five elements of hip hop music: MC, DJ, Breakdance, Graffiti Art, and Knowledge. These characters guide users by asking key questions, such as “What is your favorite hip hop song?” or “Which from this pair of lyrics do you like the most?” The answers provide a personalized narrative of hip hop history. Conversations with these characters also enable users to explore broad social issues surrounding hip hop. At the end, visitors can take home a personalized playlist of songs.
Breakbeat Narratives is part of the Narrative, Orality, and Improvisation Research Initiative, which uses AI technologies to advance the art forms of diverse global cultures. The installation integrates Microsoft AI technologies with a music visualization platform called TunesMap and novel, interactive, narrative software.
On view: Experience a sneak preview of the installation at the at the Bronx Terminal Market, open until May 31, 2020. The Universal Hip Hop Museum (UHHM) is scheduled to open in New York City in 2023.
The Universal Hip Hop Museum is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) non profit charity, chartered by the New York State Department of Education Board of Regents. The UHHM was established March 12, 2012 and is the only museum solely dedicated to the documentation, analysis, preservation and celebration of hip hop history and culture in the world.
D. Fox Harrell, Professor of Digital Media and Artificial Intelligence, Comparative Media Studies/Writing and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), MIT; Director, Center for Advanced Virtuality, MIT
Universal Hip Hop Museum
Danielle Olson, Research Assistant, Center for Advanced Virtuality, MIT
Rita Sahu, PhD Candidate, CSAIL, MIT; Senior Project Manager, Center for Advanced Virtuality, MIT
Nouran Soliman, PhD Student, CSAIL, MIT; Research Assistant, MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality, MIT
Angela Wang, Undergraduate Researcher, Center for Advanced Virtuality, MIT; Student, Wellesley College
Magdalena Price, Undergraduate Researcher, Center for Advanced Virtuality, MIT
Omoruyi Atekha, Undergraduate Researcher, Center for Advanced Virtuality, MIT
MIT News: Exploring Hip Hop History with Art and Technology