Live Ideas 2020 - Alter-Worlds: Black Utopia and The Age of Acceleration

Contemporary Afrofuturism may be defined as an emerging social philosophy of the African diaspora and Africa. Today, partly because of a crisis in globalization, social media and other technological advances, it has grown into a Pan African movement that encompasses artistic, academic, geopolitical and scientific investigation and production. The 2020 edition of Live Ideas, Alter-Worlds: Black Utopia and The Age of Acceleration, will explore this second wave of Afrofuturism as the ground work for a future that is not bound up with the ideals of white Enlightenment universalism. The five-day festival will unfold at the intersection of arts, techno-culture, sci-fi, social sciences, philosophy and the imagination. See you in the future!

Live Ideas 2020 is co-curated by Reynaldo Anderson in partnership with the Black Speculative Art Movement (BSAM).

Keynote/Performance: What is AI?

Opening Keynote and Lecture Performance to the 2019 Live Ideas Festival.

A LECTURE in the form of a PERFORMANCE, a PERFORMANCE in the form of a LECTURE to give the audience an overview of AI’s past, present and future. Composer and vocalist Nick Hallett will give us a musical rendition of a brief history of AI;  Meredith Broussard, professor of digital journalism at NYU and author of Artifiicial Unintelligence, will tell us how we got to the present, explain some general concepts, and help us think critically about AI; Hip hop, spoken word and theatre artist Baba Israel will deliver a list of where and how AI is used; Patricia Marx, New Yorker staff writer, author and humorist, will tell us all about robots; and drag performance artist Ragamuffin will take us to the future.

Runtime: Approx 75 minutes

Baba Israel is a Hip Hop/Theater artist, producer, educator and consultant raised in New York by parents who were core members of the Living Theatre. He was Artistic Director of Contact Theatre in Manchester where he developed several festivals and productions. He was a resident artist at BRIC creating his last multimedia performance The Spinning Wheel in collaboration with London based company Unfinished Business. He is a core member of Hip Hop/Soul project Soul Inscribed who recently completed the American Music Abroad program. He has collaborated with musicians such as Lester Bowie, Philip Glass, Vernon Reid, Jason Lindner, and Arturo O’Farrill. He holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College and is the Co-Artistic Director of the Performance Project based at the University Settlement. He is a proud member of HERE’s HARP program, where he is developing his current production, Cannabis! A Theatrical Concert. Photo by Paula Court.

Meredith Broussard is an assistant professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University and the author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. Her research focuses on artificial intelligence in investigative reporting, with a particular interest in using data analysis for social good. She is an affiliate faculty member at the Moore Sloan Data Science Environment at the NYU Center for Data Science, a 2019 Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow, and her work has been supported by the Institute of Museum & Library Services as well as the Tow Center at Columbia Journalism School. A former features editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, she has also worked as a software developer at AT&T Bell Labs and the MIT Media Lab. Her features and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, Vox, and other outlets. Follow her on Twitter @merbroussard or contact her via

Nick Hallett has been a collaborator of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company since 2014.  His scores include all three evenings of the Analogy TrilogyA Letter to my Nephew, and Fishkill/Movements 1-45.  He is the recipient of a 2017 “Bessie” award for Best Revival, with Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez, for Variations on Themes from Lost & Found: Scenes from a Life and Other Works by John Bernd.  His first opera, Whispering Pines 10 (2010), a collaboration with artist Shana Moulton, was presented internationally and earned the duo a Creative Capital grant to be adapted for the internet. Since 2004, Hallett has been the co-director of New York’s Darmstadt series, celebrated for staging radical interpretations of music and performance from the avant-garde canon.  His work as music director and producer to multimedia artist Joshua White resulted in a decade-long re-emergence of the iconic Joshua Light Show. He is on the faculty of Eugene Lang College at the New School and the School for Visual Arts.

Patricia Marx is a staff writer for the New Yorker and a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Rugrats.  Her first book was How to Regain Your Virginity and her most recent book is Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It: A Mother’s Suggestions (illustrated by Roz Chast).   She was the first woman to be elected to the Harvard Lampoon and in 2015 received a Guggenheim Fellowship.  Her first children’s book, Now Everybody Really Hates Me, was the first and only winner of the Fredrich Medal, an award made up by Patty and named after her air conditioner.  She can take a baked potato out of the oven with her bare hand.

Ragamuffin is a drag artist and event producer living in Brooklyn, New York. They are the creator of Failure: A Queer Workshop, a showcase dedicated to celebrating queer artists through interdisciplinary performance and conversation. A graduate of Bard College, their work has been presented at Movement Research, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, New York Live Arts, Bushwig, and through partnership with the Doug Varone Dance Company at 92nd Street Y. In addition to hosting weekly shows in Brooklyn, they have performed both nationally and internationally with drag legend Thorgy Thor, and recently launched POZLUCK, a monthly potluck social for queer people living with HIV. Ragamuffin is a conduit for joyful debauchery and queer thought, political poet, social raccoon, and anything else you might want but don’t need. @ragamuffin_nyc

discrete figures 2019

New York City premiere of discrete figures 2019 by Japanese companies Rhizomatiks Research and ELEVENPLAY, and American media artist Kyle McDonald as the feature performance of the 2019 annual Live Ideas.  This year’s festival, titled AI: Are You Brave Enough for The Brave New World? runs May 8-12. More programming to be announced in early March 2019.

Five live female dancers execute choreography with machine learning technology on a stage designed for interactivity between performers, drones, and Artificial Intelligence, in the quest for a new palette of movement to foster undiscovered modes of expressive dance that transcend the limits of conventional human subjectivity and emotional expression.

Inspired by mathematician Alan Turing, this expansive multidisciplinary collaboration between contemporary mathematicians, dancers, media artists, composers, and engineers has created a complex experimental augmented reality performance. Truly a first of its kind, discrete figures probes the circuitry connecting the corporeal to the cognitive, questioning the very essence of humanity and machine. Having garnered an international following for their many groundbreaking collaborations that meld conceptual and high-tech innovation, Rhizomatiks Research and ELEVENPLAY forge unexplored possibilities in dance as a performing art.

Stay Late Conversation with Daito Manabe (Rhizomatiks), MIKIKO (ELEVENPLAY), and Kyle McDonald, moderated by Bill T. Jones. Stacy Smith will be the interpreter for this conversation.

Rhizomatiks x ELEVENPLAY x Kyle McDonald at GRAY AREA
discrete figures (2018)

Opening Reception: Portrait on the Fly / See Sound / Xoromancy

As part of Live Ideas 2019, AI: Are You Brave Enough for the Brave New World, the Ford Foundation Live Gallery hosts four interactive installations including Portrait on the Fly, See Sound, and Xoromancy through May 28th. Free and open to the public, an opening reception will be held on Wednesday, May 8th at 6:30 PM. Each evening of the festival at 8 PM, a guest singer/vocalist will perform a 10 minute set animating See Sound to create unique 3D sound sculptures. Guest performers include Julia Easterlin, Carl Hancock Rux, Helga Davis, Kaila Mullady and Mark Martin. Read more about the installations below:

Portrait on the Fly (2015): An Interactive Installation by Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau
The interactive installation consists of a monitor that shows a swarm of thousands of flies. When a person positions oneself in front of the monitor, the insects build up the contour of the person’s figure. They begin to arrange and rearrange themselves continuously, creating a recognizable likeness to the individual. Portrait on the Fly is a commentary on our love for making pictures of ourselves (Selfie-Culture) and has to do with change, transience and impermanence.

See Sound (2017), Rama Allen and creative team at The Mill
See Sound is a generative artwork experience that creates sound sculptures based on the human voice. Each user has access to a microphone and hardware interface. They trigger different visual behaviors within the music visualizer based on experimentation, which results in each user leaving with their own bespoke sound sculpture.  The resulting media can be sent to each user immediately afterwards. See the schedule of guest performers below:

  • May 8, 8 PM, Julia Easterlin
  • May 9, 8 PM, Carl Hancock Rux
  • May 10, 8 PM, Helga Davis
  • May 11, 8 PM, Kaila Mullady and Mark Martin

Xoromancy, Aman Tiwari & Gray Crawford
Xoromancy explores the near-infinite space of psuedoreal images generated by a neural network trained on millions of images. Participants move their hands to shift the influence and mixture of texture, color and subject, training themselves in the ways of Xoromancy.

See Sound is on-view through the 2019 Live Ideas festival, ending May 12thPortrait on the Fly is on view through May 29th.

Panel: Future of Work

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“Foxconn’s Terry Gou says the company plans to replace 80% of workers with robots in 5-10 years.”  – Samson Ellis 

“According to our estimate, 47 percent of total US employment is in the high risk category, meaning that associated occupations are potentially automatable” – Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne

Remember the Luddites?  The fear and resistance to change is not new.  New technology has upended industries for millennia.  Jobs were replaced or eliminated by machines and new ones were created.  Remember the steam engine?   So what makes it different this time in the age of artificial intelligence and automation?  This discussion will look at the future of work in the age of AI, examine strategies and solutions for a shared future, from education, workforce reorganizing and reskilling, universal basic income, to the radical restructuring of socio-economic systems that may be needed to reverse the widening inequality.  Panelists will include Arun Sundararajan (Professor and the Robert L. and Dale Atkins Rosen Faculty Fellow at New York University’s (NYU) Stern School of Business and author of The Sharing Economy), Matthew Putman (scientist, musician, CEO of Nanotronics), Carrie Gleason (Director of Fair Workweek Initiative at Center for Popular Democracy), and Madeleine Clare Elish, Research Lead, AI on the Ground Initiative at Data & Society Institute. This discussion will be moderated by Ritse Erumi (Doctoral Fellow, Global Institute at the Ford Foundation)

Arun Sundararajan (panelist)
Arun Sundararajan is Professor and the Robert L. and Dale Atkins Rosen Faculty Fellow at New York University’s (NYU) Stern School of Business, and an affiliated faculty member at many of NYU’s interdisciplinary research centers, including the Center for Data Science and the Center for Urban Science and Progress. His best-selling and award-winning book, “The Sharing Economy,” was published by the MIT Press in 2016, and has been translated into Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Vietnamese. Professor Sundararajan’s research studies how digital technologies transform business, government and civil society. He has published over 50 scientific papers in peer-reviewed academic journals and conferences, and over 35 op-eds in outlets that include The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Wired, Le Monde, Bloomberg View, Fortune, Entrepreneur, The Economic Times, Harvard Business Reviewand Quartz. His scholarship has been recognized by seven Best Paper awards, two Google Faculty awards, an Axiom Best Business Books Award, and a Thnkers50 Radar Thinker Award. He has given hundreds of keynote, plenary and invited talks at industry, government and academic forums internationally. Watch his 2016 Davos panel. He has provided expert input about the digital economy as testimony to the United States Congress, the European Parliament, and to city, state and federal government agencies that include the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the Federal Trade Commission the National Economic Council, the Federal Reserve Bank, the US Department of Labor, the White House, and the Washington State House of Representatives. He is a widely sought-after commentator by top media platforms. Keep up with his latest views and opinions. Arun is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Technology, Values and Policy, and serves on the Steering Committee of their Operating Models for the Future project. He is an advisor to numerous organizations that include the National Academy of Science, the City of New York, the City of Seoul, Walmart Corporation, Cisco Systems, the Female Founders Fund, the Internet Society of China, OuiShare, Samasource, the National League of Cities, the Royal Society for the Arts and the Center for Global Enterprise. He works with tech companies on issues of strategy and regulation, and with non-tech companies trying to understand how to forecast and address changes induced by digital technologies. He teaches in NYU Stern executive education programs in the U.S., Europe and Asia, focusing primarily on digital strategy and governance. He teaches full-time MBA students about hi-tech entrepreneurship, undergraduates about networks, crowds and markets, and doctoral students about digital economics. He is an occasional angel investor.

Matthew Putman (panelist)
Matthew Putman is the cofounder and CEO of Nanotronics. Nanotronics invents instruments and platforms that redefine factory control. A single platform steers production toward optimal end products and promotes discovery, reducing waste and costs. Growing from a legacy of revolutionizing advanced inspection, Nanotronics is engineering the infrastructure for every industry to build on. Matthew’s groundbreaking inventions in manufacturing include the development of the world’s most advanced microscope–a combination of super resolution, AI, and robotics primarily used for manufacturing quality and process control. Matthew holds a PhD in Applied Physics from Columbia University where he is also a researcher. He has published over 30 papers and holds 15 patents for his work on devices, instrumentation, and software processes. Matthew serves on the board of directors of New York Live Arts and Pioneer Works. Matthew is also an accomplished jazz pianist, published poet, and has served as Executive Producer on several films and plays. Most recently, Matthew was involved in the producer’s circle of The Jungle at St. Anne’s Warehouse.

Carrie Gleason (panelist)
Carrie Gleason is the Director of the Fair Workweek Initiative and policy strategies with United for Respect, a network of working people counting on jobs in the service industry. Most recently, Carrie led the successful effort to secure a $20 million financial assistance fund for 33,000 Toys R Us employees who lost their jobs due a Wall-Street driven bankruptcy. She founded the Fair Workweek Initiative (FWI) which has won a family-sustaining workweek for 1.8 million families through public policy and corporate change. Carrie provides analysis of trends in the retail industry and future of work for national policymakers and media outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and NBC. She co-founded the Retail Action Project, which helped thousands of workers successfully fight wage theft and discrimination, winning back millions in unpaid wages. Carrie holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, was a 2009-2010 Charles H. Revson Fellow for the Future of the City of New York at Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner and son.

Madeleine Clare Elish (panelist)
Madeleine Clare Elish is a cultural anthropologist whose work examines the social impacts of AI and automation on society. As Research Lead and co-founder of the AI on the Ground Initiative at Data & Society, she works to inform the ethical design, use, and governance of AI systems through the application of social science research and human-centered ethnographic perspectives. Her recent research has focused on how AI technologies affect understandings of equity, values and ethical norms and how professional work lives change in response. She has conducted field work across varied industries and communities, ranging from the Air Force, civilian drone regulation, and commercial aviation to precision agriculture and emergency clinical care. Her research has been published and cited in scholarly journals as well as publications including The New York Times, Slate, Vice, and USA Today. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University and an S.M. in Comparative Media Studies from MIT.

Ritse Erumi (moderator)
Ritse Erumi serves as a doctoral fellow at The Global Knowledge Initiative. She has several years of international development experience working on digital development initiatives. Ritse is passionate about fostering inclusive innovation – innovation that meets the goals and needs of underserved populations in emerging economies. A doctoral candidate, Ritse explores the role innovation and digital technologies play in socio-economic development.





Performance: Rational Numbers: Music and AI

Rational Numbers: Music and AI, featuring Yuka C. Honda and Angélica Negrón

Artificial Intelligence software can compose symphonies at the push of a button, but this fact has overshadowed its significant but largely untapped potential as a tool to support human composers—without dominating the creative process—in their search for new means of artistic expression. With algorithms capable of assuming complete control of the creative process, the questions of how much control to cede to these technologies, and the nature of that control, have become fundamental to determining the current and future value of Artificial Intelligence in a creative context.

For this groundbreaking concert event, two highly accomplished composers and multi-instrumentalists will use AI-based software to compose, adapt and perform new music, incorporating these AI tools into their creative processes for the first time. The music will reflect the composers’ artistic visions, but also the ways in which they do or do not choose to trust the software to help carry out their wishes.

Yuka C. Honda is a Japanese composer/musician and producer residing in New York City. She is best known for the band she co-founded in 1994, Cibo Matto, for which she composed, programmed and performed the audio architecture along with producing 2 of their 3 albums. She has also produced recordings by Sean Lennon, Martha Wainwright and Yoko Ono, and has released three solo albums on John Zorn’s Tzadik imprint.  She has recorded and performed with a wide range of musicians including Yoko Ono, Nels Cline, Esperanza Spalding, John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Arto Lindsay, Laurie Anderson, Sean Lennon, Yoshimio, Kimbra, Thomas Bartlett, and Trixie Whitley. Honda’s new multimedia opera, No Revenge Necessary, explores the relationship between humans and Artificial Intelligence technology.

Angélica Negrón is a composer and multi-instrumentalist from San Juan, Puerto Rico, based in Brooklyn, New York. Interested in creating intricate yet simple narratives that evoke intangible moments in time, she writes music for accordions, toys and electronics as well as chamber ensembles and orchestras. Her music has been described as “wistfully idiosyncratic and contemplative” (WQXR/Q2) and “mesmerizing and affecting” (Feast of Music) while The New York Times noted her “capacity to surprise” and her “quirky approach to scoring”.  She was selected by Q2 and NPR listeners as part of “The Mix: 100 Composers Under 40” and by Paste Magazine as one of the 20 most innovative musicians working today. Angélica has been commissioned by the Albany Symphony, Bang on a Can All-Stars, A Far Cry, MATA Festival, loadbang, The Playground Ensemble and the American Composers Orchestra, among others. Her music has been performed by TRANSIT Ensemble, Choral Chameleon, janus trio, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Cantori NY, Face the Music, Iktus Percussion Quartet, ETHEL, NYU Symphony Orchestra, Montpelier Chamber Orchestra, the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and others, at venues including the Kennedy Center, the Ecstatic Music Festival, EMPAC, Bang on a Can Marathon and the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial. She is the composer in residence for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra for their 2018-2019 season.

Co-presented with Music Community Lab, a volunteer-run not-for-profit based in New York City. Over the past six years they have organized over 60 events supporting music research, experimentation, education and creation by bringing communities together to foster collaboration, productivity and the exchange of ideas.

Panel: Does Truth Need Defending?

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Is Reality still Real? A discussion on the fragility of truth and reality in the age of deepfake videos and synthetic images. Examining the tension between democratic scientific openness and the need to defend against adversarial use of technology,  this panel delves into the societal and cultural impact in a world where we cannot trust what we see.  Panelists include Ambika Samarthya-Howard (Head of Communications at WITNESS), Hilke Schellmann (Emmy-award winning investigative reporter and Assistant Professor of Journalism at NYU), and Jeff M. Smith (Associate Director, National Center for Media Forensics at UC Denver).  The discussion is moderated by Justin Hendrix (Executive Director of NYC Media Lab).

Jeff M. Smith (panelist)

Jeff M. Smith is Associate Director of the National Center for Media Forensics, where he has the pleasure of helping build the foundation for strengthening forensic sciences in the U.S. through the Center’s education and research programs. Smith’s research areas include the forensic authentication of recorded media, forensic speaker recognition, multimedia file analysis, and machine learning applications. Most recently, he has been creating, investigating, and detecting deepfakes and GAN generated multimedia material with his research in this realm featured on TV and in print including CNN, ABC, and NYT. He is a member of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) as Chair of the Technical Committee on Audio Forensics and past chair of the Colorado Section of the AES. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). He works closely with law enforcement as member-at-large of the Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence (SWGDE) Executive Committee and as a member of its Audio Committee. Funding sponsors include U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Hilke Schellmann (panelist)

Hilke Schellmann is an assistant professor of journalism at NYU and an Emmy-award winning investigative reporter. Using innovative multimedia tools, she focuses her reporting on unearthing systemic wrongdoing and its impact on vulnerable people. As an independent filmmaker, Schellmann shot, produced and directed the investigative documentary Outlawed in Pakistan which aired on PBS FRONTLINE. The film was dubbed “among the standouts” at the Sundance Film Festival by The L.A. Times and called “extraordinary” by Variety. The documentary was recognized with an Emmy, an Overseas Press Club and a Cinema for Peace Award and successfully played at prestigious film festivals such as IDFA, Full Frame, Thessaloniki Film Festival and AFI Docs. In Schellmann’s investigation into student loans for VICE on HBO, she uncovered how a spigot of easy money from the federal government is driving up the cost of higher education in the U.S. and is even threatening the country’s international competitiveness. The immersive documentary was named a 2017 finalist for the Peabody Awards. Most recently she reported, produced and executive produced the 10-part video series Moving Upstream for the Wall Street Journal, which investigated trends in science and technology and covered topics ranging from facial recognition in an elementary school to computer-generated videos aka deepfakes, to the first lab-grown steak. The show garnered over four million views on youtube alone. Schellmann’s work has appeared in several publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, VICE, HBO, PBS, NPR, TIME, ARD, ZDF, WNYC, National Geographic, Glamour, Quartz, and The Atlantic. Prior to joining NYU, Schellmann was the Director of Video Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She is currently shooting and directing a feature-length investigative documentary. Schellmann is a Fulbright Scholar and holds an MS from Columbia University and an MA from Humboldt University in her native Germany. While in graduate school, she co-founded the nonprofit Center for Documentary Art UnionDocs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and now serves on its advisory committee.

Ambika Samarthya-Howard (panelist)

Ambika Samarthya-Howard is a video producer and communication specialist. She is currently the Head of Communications for WITNESS, and formerly lead communications for, an NGO based out of South Africa using mobile technology for social good. She received her MFA in Film at Columbia University and did her Fulbright in Bollywood. She worked as a senior producer in community television in Brooklyn, with the BBC Media Action in Nigeria as a broadcast TV Trainer and with UNICEF as a Communications Specialist. She lead the content curation and writing for the Medium Publication, Mobile For Good, and has spoken about social good projects and inclusivity at a range of conferences globally, winning best poster at the recent University of London’s Behavior Change Conference. She co-authored two chapters in the recently published book Affordability Issues Surrounding the Use of ICT for Development and Poverty Reduction.

Justin Hendrix (moderator)

Justin Hendrix is Executive Director of NYC Media Lab, a public-private partnership between the City’s industry and its universities to drive emerging media and technology innovation and entrepreneurship, and the founding Executive Director of RLab, a new 16,500 square foot facility including co-working labs, classrooms, studios, and more in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that is New York’s City’s home for VR, AR and spatial computing. RLab is the nation’s first city-funded center for research, entrepreneurship and education in virtual and augmented-reality, spatial computing and other emerging media technologies. Previously he was Vice President, Business Development & Innovation for The Economist. He holds a BA from the College of William & Mary and an MSc in Technology Commercialization from the McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin.


Algorave: LiveCode.NYC

Experiments with AI, machine learning and other algorithmic techniques

Scorpion Mouse
CIBO + Ulysses Popple
Colonel Panix + Doc Mofo
Koala Tokki+ Zach Krall

LiveCode.NYC is an artist collaborative that performs both art and music by programming computers live in front of an audience. Unlike typical electronic music that is seen today in dance clubs, a performance involving livecoding requires that the code for both the music and visualizations be projected for all the audience to see as it is created. Livecode performances are called Algoraves, and the instrument of choice are the computer languages that each performer has either mastered or created to provide the best expression of their artistic ideas. Musical performances vary from ambient pieces, to melodies with danceable beats, to experimental sounds and polyrhythms. Music is accompanied by visualizations as well, sometimes programmed by the musician, sometimes programmed by a separate visual artist. LiveCode.NYC has been on the cutting edge of the global Algorave movement and is an inclusive organization open to anyone interested in learning and participating in the art form. Learn more at


HACK-ART-THON: ACT Labs NYC/Live Ideas 2019

In partnership with FINE ACTS and NAMI NYC, National Alliance of Mental Illness.

ACT = Art x Change x Technology

Eight pairs of carefully selected and matched Fellows, an artist and an AI technologist, take part in a two-day HACK-ART-THON to work on prototype of art x technology projects that raise awareness or contribute to a concrete solution for Breaking The Stigma around Mental Illness. The projects, from performances, interactive art pieces, to apps, must use some form of AI technology. Mentors from the fields of technology, art/activism, mental health, PR and presentation will advice the Fellows throughout the process. The prototypes will be presented in front of the jury and audience. The winning team will receive $5000 in grant funding to continue developing the project. Other prizes include year-long mentorship and support, artist residencies, opportunities to present their work and more.

Why is this important?  In June 2018, the designer Kate Spade and the culinary icon Anthony Bourdain committed suicide within three days of each other. Their deaths prompted immediate public debate on mental health, the stigmas and silences that surround mental illness. None of us are immune to anxiety, depression or despair despite every occasion to live in denial of this fact. According to a 2016 survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness (*44.7 million). This number doesn’t include those of us who work in the military, are under age, incarcerated, or homeless. Often, these are the communities that are the most disproportionately affected. The stigma surrounding mental illness often prevents us from seeking the help we may need, or from reaching out to someone we know to be suffering. A lag in public awareness has kept us from the most pressing concern: where is the funding for nondiscriminatory mental health services that can be accessed by all? We cannot separate our mental health from our collective well-being. Removing the stigma and layers of silence that surround mental illness is urgent and important. Talking to someone is the first step.


Our selected pairs are:

Katy Gero & Anastasia Voron
Artyom Astafurov & Beth Graczyk
Jennifer Ding & Dominika Jezewska
Ishaan Jhaveri & Esther Manon Siddiquie
Keely Garfield & Cynthia Hua
Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang & Nia Laureano
Jared Katzman & Rachel Kunstadt
Marco Berlot & Zeelie Brown


HACK-ART-THON (Fellows only)
Saturday May 11 – Sunday May 12

Prototype Presentation & Award Ceremony 
May 12, 6:30pm
Free with RSVP – click “Buy Tickets” above

ACT Labs are events that explore the intersection of human rights, art and technology, and develop a range of solutions – from immersive, participatory art pieces to apps with a strong art component. The concept and format of ACT Labs ( has been created and developed by Fine Acts, a global platform for socially engaged creative solutions.


NAMI-NYC helps individuals and families affected by mental illness build better lives through education, support, and advocacy. Our programs and services — all of which are available free of charge — are led by trained volunteers with lived experience. As individuals and family members personally impacted by mental illness, we understand your experience because we have been there. For more information visit or call our Helpline at 212-684-3264.

Workshop: Robotics for Kids

Robotics for Juniors (Ages 5 – 7), 11 AM – 12:30 PM
Robotics for Apprentices (Ages 8 and up), 12:30 – 2 PM

With a growing economy that has a higher demand for STEM fields, it’s important that the next generation learns how they can make a difference in their world. Robotics give students the opportunity to dive deep into the world of robotics and explore how computer programming and robot design can solve problems big and small!

In this Robotics workshop with Engineering for Kids of Brooklyn students will be introduced to both robot building as well as programming. This workshop is a perfect mixture of fun and learning! Students do not take home the LEGO projects.

Scholarships are open to all youth residing in the NYC area. The deadline for applying is Sunday, May 5 at 11:59pm.
Guardians will be notified by email no later than Wednesday, May 8 if their participant’s application was selected.

Runtime: 90 minutes
Space limited to 14 per workshop

Engineering for Kids inspire children to build on their natural curiosity through fun and challenging, hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Our program encourages imagination, innovation and collaboration as well as the promotion of individual problem solving skills. Children are introduced to the concepts of engineering and the Engineering Design Process, applying these concepts in a real world setting as they ask, brainstorm, design, build, test and improve their creations multiple times ensuring that students are preparing for their futures in STEM.

Symposium: AI x ART

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Art and Technology have always been bedfellows. How are artists, technologists, administrators, curators using AI to create, communicate, disseminate art? How is AI changing the dialogue around creativity, equity, inclusivity and how art is consumed? The AI x Art Symposium sheds light on these questions through presentations and panel discussions.

Welcome and Introduction:
Janet Wong, Associate Artistic Director of New York Live Arts

Body, Movement, Language: AI Sketches with Bill T. Jones
A collaboration between Bill T. Jones, New York Live Arts and Google Creative Lab exploring AI and Movement.

Between Science & Speculation: Technological Dreaming
Ani Liu, artist and 2019 – 21 Princeton Arts Fellow

AI in Performance: Making discrete figures
Kyle McDonald, media artist and co-creator of discrete figures

Yes, AI CAN help you develop a new relationship with your Audience
Dr. Brett Ashley Crawford, Executive Director of Arts Management and Technology Lab at CMU

Livecoding Traversals through Sonic Spaces
Jason Levine, audiovisual artist and performer

GANymedes: Art with AI
Eunsu Kang, media artist and Visiting Professor of Art and Machine Learning at Carnegie Mellon University

Emergent Storytelling with Artificial Intelligence
Rachel Ginsberg, multidisciplinary strategist, member of Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab

Creating in the Age of AI
A panel discussion on AI and creativity, the shifting value of process and authorship, the generation of meaning, and the role of the artist in interpreting the world around us.
Ani Liu, artist and 2019-21 Princeton Arts Fellow
Dr. Brett Ashley Crawford, Executive Director of Arts Management and Technology Lab at CMU
Eunsu Kang, media artist and Visiting Professor of Art and Machine Learning at Carnegie Mellon University
Kyle McDonald,  media artist and co-creator of discrete figures
Moderated by Bill T. Jones


This event is made possible in partnership with the Carnegie Mellon University’s Master of Arts Management Program and the Arts Management & Technology Laboratory, Machine Learning Department at the School of Computer Science, and the Miller ICA.

Workshop: Machine Learning for Artists

This hands-on workshop demystifies machine learning and explores how machine learning tools have been and can be used for artistic expression. Participants will learn about the concept of machine learning, its history and critical issues, examples of art projects that use ML, and explore resources that allow them to continue experimenting with ML on their own. This is open to artists by any definition. No pre-requisites or prior knowledge is required.

If possible, participants should bring a computer (we will be interacting with and creating some online examples), but are still welcome to attend/observe without one.

This workshop is heavily inspired by Gene Kogan’s work on ml4a:

Lead by Maya Man

Maya Man is a Brooklyn based technologist. Currently, she works as a fiver at the Google Creative Lab, making experiments that combine her love for art and code. Maya graduated from Pomona College with a double major in Computer Science and Media Studies with a focus in digital production. She spends the majority of her time creating exploratory new media work, dancing in studios and public spaces, and maintaining her love/hate relationship with the internet (mostly love though).

Class: How to Question Technology, Or, What Would Neil Postman Say?

Want to learn more about Neil Postman? Read the digital archive and watch the videos below!

When new technologies are introduced to the public, much is said about the benefits they will bestow upon us, and the brave new world that will result. Very little is mentioned about what they might take from us, the harm they may cause to us, and whether we really need them in the first place.

We need to learn how to engage in critical evaluation of technology, and that begins by learning how to ask questions technology. And we can find no better guide to asking good questions than Neil Postman (1931-2003), the preeminent American critic of media and culture over the past half century, and the author of twenty-five books, including Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985) and Technopoly (1992). Postman explained that there are a number of questions we need to ask before we launch any new technology into the world, questions like:

What is the problem to which the technology claims to be the solution?
Whose problem is it?
What new problems will be created from solving an old one?

How relevant are these and other questions for our current tech-driven world? What would Neil Postman say about social media, mobile devices, VR, and AI?

Robert Albrecht is a former student of Neil Postman when he earned his doctorate degree in Media Ecology from NYU. He has taught in the Media Arts Department at New Jersey City University since 1997 and is the author of several articles exploring the intersection of music, media, and culture in both the United States and in Latin America. His book Mediating the Muse (2004, Hampton Press) was honored by the Media Ecology Association with the Dorothy Lee Award. In 2016, he was honored with “The Excellence in Teaching Award” by the New Jersey City University Chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Albrecht is currently collaborating with Carmine Tabone on a book entitled Teaching as a Creative Activity: The Arts as Pedagogy in the Age of Digital Technology (Peter Lang Publishers, forthcoming 2019).

Robert is also a musician and songwriter. His CD Song of the Poet, a cycle of songs that transformed the poetry of Whitman, Poe, Neruda and others into musical settings, was recognized with the John Culkin Award. More recently, he has released a CD of original songs about people, places and events in Jersey City and Hoboken entitled A Tale of Two Cities.

Albrecht has also worked for 40 years with children in Jersey City, using a child’s natural propensity to dance, sing, draw, paint, imagine and play make believe as opportunities for social, emotional and academic learning

Neil Postman speaks to Apple employees in LA, 1993

Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death, Part 1

Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death, Part 2