“Sankofa City” Dissertation

Sankofa City is my dissertation project, based on 4+ years of working with Ben Caldwell and the Leimert Phone Company.

We will explore the nexus of emerging technology, art, and community-based urban design, to provide visions for the future of local innovation and cultural development in Los Angeles.

“Sankofa City” is a collaboration between USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, Ben Caldwell’s Kaos Network, and Urban Systems nonprofit autonomous vehicles company. The project proves that large research universities, nonprofits, and local communities can work together and empower local citizens to imagine alternative urban technologies that work for the public good.

The advent of new urban-based technologies means that the future form of Los Angeles will be unlike anything one can now imagine. For example, how might self-driving vehicles and augmented reality be used to change our relationship to the city – to even change the city itself? We will conduct a series of collaborative workshops with artists, students, technical experts, and local Leimert Park residents, to create vivid scenarios of the possibilities to share with the public and spark debate.

Ride South LA video at the Guggenheim

The video I made for the Ride South LA group was featured in the Guggenheim Museum’s new exhibit on the Participatory City. Our contribution is a response to the term “Collaborative Urban Mapping,” based on our work in South LA with the Healthy Food Map. The video was funded as part of the Guggenheim’s exhibit, which addresses “100 Urban Trends from the BMW Guggenheim Lab,” and is showing from October 11, 2013 through January 5, 2014. The exhibit explores the major themes and ideas that emerged from the Lab during its travels to New York, Berlin, and Mumbai. See all videos in the collection in a YouTube playlist (ours is #25).

The Leimert Phone Company

Media_Commons_Better

The Leimert Phone Company is a community design project in South Los Angeles. By repurposing payphones, the project seeks to reclaim public space and create cultural portals to local arts, music, and business. South LA is set to change over the next 10 years as planners focus on development around a new subway line through the area. In the face of possible gentrification, how can a community art project deepen neighborhood identity and broaden access to local business? Our collaborative team chose payphones as sites for public intervention and transmedia storytelling tied to justice.

The Leimert Phone team is composed of students from USC and local artists from Leimert Park. Through a 5-week workshop participants formed 3 project groups to develop unique designs. The workshop used rapid-prototyping and playtesting to facilitate lo-fi transmedia designs to share stories and access local music, history, artwork, and business. Each group presented their work on April 6, 2013 to local residents, students, and a panel of expert community organizers. The groups’ presentations included concept videos, detailed design handouts, visual mockups, and a hardware demo. Examples included a phone to play, download, and purchase tickets to local hip-hop acts. Other one sent you on a scavenger hunt to local businesses to collect stories and receive discounts. (Check out group videos http://leimertphonecompany.net/week-4-concept-videos/)