Online Symposium

Wednesday, July 27

1:00pm - 5:00pm eastern

Featured Speakers


Michele Elam

Professor of Humanities & Faculty Associate Director, HAI
Stanford University



Lauren Ruffin




Sydney Skybetter

Choreographer & Senior Lecturer in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies
Brown University



Kamal Sinclair

Senior Director of Digital Innovation
The Music Center


Keynote Videos

Lauren Ruffin | Challenges and Opportunities of Securing the Bag in the Creative Economy

Description of the video:

Hey, everybody. I'm Lauren Ruffin, coming to you from Phoenix, Arizona.

I'm a brown skinned black woman with short hair.

It's a little bit longer on top, kind of
curly today.

I'm wearing blue, round, blue rimmed glasses, a blue shirt, pretty basic.

And I'm in a pretty plain room right now.

Gray ceiling, white background.

But I'm really happy to be with you all here today.

I am here and excited to talk about
challenges and opportunities of securing the

bag in the creative economy.

I'm currently the head of the movement
building office at Yerba Buena Center for the

Arts in San Francisco.

Prior to that, I was one of the co-CEOs of Fractured Atlas.

I think I did that for five or six years.

I just accepted a position at Arizona State University as an associate professor,

teaching world building and visualizing

And one of the things I think about a lot is sort of how are we going to finance this

future? How are creatives going to make

And so the talk, the title of this talk is
also comes from a hashtag #FYPM, which means

"F- you, pay me." We'll keep it clean, because I
know y'all are a classy audience.

But with that, let's jump in and sort of get
this thing going.

So one of the quotes I think about a lot
is this one that comes out of the education

sector that says "When social systems are in
periods of rapid transformation, the role of

schools becomes contradictory.

They teach knowledge that's no longer

socialize people into roles that no longer
exist, and provide mindsets needed to continue

ways of life that are disappearing."

I think we can swap out schools for maybe
art sector or museum or whatever institution

you're working for.

I think a lot about MFA students that
I'm teaching who most certainly have a

feeling that what they're learning is not
going to help them get a job and not going

help them be successful.

I think a lot about curators and curatorial
practices that in recent years are roles that

people sort of think are, sort of serve the
purpose of gatekeeping and keeping

intentionally excluded communities,
intentionally exploitive communities away

from being able to achieve success.

So I hold this sort of quote in my mind a
lot as I'm sort of, as I was thinking about

this particular talk. So what exactly are we
talking about today?

We're going to talk about the evolution of
digital creative communities.

Then we're going to talk about how inequity
flourishes online.

And then also, of course, because I believe
in liberatory practices and sort of a world

that should, a digital world that can be a
lot better than our real world.

How do we get free?

So with that, let's jump into evolution of
the digital creator economy.

The creator economy right now is projected
to hit close to $300 billion in the next two

years. These are some of the platforms that
really I'm thinking about a lot.

So you've got TikTok, which is both a
creator community,

I mean, it's both a creator platform,
meaning you can make videos on it, but you

can also distribute it.

Most folks don't think about LinkedIn as
being a creator platform, but the reality is

a lot of creators are building their brands,
selling courses, finding opportunities to

sort of sell their freelance, sell or
freelance services on LinkedIn.

Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook I think we're
all pretty familiar with.

But all of these, sort of, all these platforms
sort of make up what I currently think of as

as the creator economy.

In addition to those platforms, we've got
very, very big companies that are

participating in the creator economy.

This chart has has close to $10 billion on
it, $10 trillion on it, excuse me.

And it includes companies that you don't
typically think about as creative communities

or creative companies.

You've got your Amazons, Amazon Prime, hey,
that's where people are making money.

The filmmakers are most certainly selling
stuff on there. Facebook and Instagram and

Facebook, they're making money off of the
content that creators are making.

You've got Microsoft, which owns LinkedIn.

You know, Microsoft owns LinkedIn.

It's a creator company. Now, Microsoft also
owns a VR platform that creators are making

things on. So as we're sort of digging into
all of these, you've got your Netflix-es, this

is a lot of money on this and it's all
happening on the backs of creators.

And that's why this matters.

Creativity is a huge driver of our future
workforce and our national economy.

That's true today. It's most certainly going
to continue to become more and more true over

the next ten, 15, 20 years.

The issue is that a lot of money is pouring
into the sector, but creators are not seeing,

are not reaping, sort of, the benefits of
their labor.

So just in twenty, just up until between now and
2020, October 2020, $800 million flowed into

flowed into creator platforms, some of the
ones I just named and also some new ones like

Clubhouse. You might remember spending time
on Clubhouse.

And yet only 46% of these creators who are
building audiences on these platforms managed

to make $20,000 a year.

So these these folks are putting a lot of
time and attention into the content they're

creating, into their videos, their music and

But they're only making $20,000, which is
not enough to live on, and most certainly not

enough for them to hop out of full time jobs
or gig work into being full time creators.

So you know, again, we're thinking about the
market creator market, the creative economy

market being really comparable to the gig
economy in a couple of years.

And we all know how the gig economy has
fundamentally changed the way people have

work and live and think about money and
think about sort of their place in our world

and what they're contributing to our

Here are a couple of key places where they're
making, where folks are making money online.

I'm talking about audience curation, meaning
you're growing your audience online.

Instagram or Facebook monetization.

Maybe you're selling courses on Coursera,
maybe you're selling NFTs.

We won't talk about NFTs and blockchain too
much during this talk, but something I think

about a lot. Brand deals, marketplaces like
Etsy, that's where you're monetizing an art

audience. Vertical platforms, maybe it's
just all one.

You're focusing on one thing like cooking or
photography or podcasting.

There are platforms that are just for that.
Community management,

some of you might be managing a community on
mighty networks.

Well, there are lots of creators who are
teaching other creators to make art, to build

furniture, to do lots of things, and are
managing their own communities and their own

conversations on their platforms.

And then finally, creator tools.

A lot of creators are also teaching other or
building tools for other creators to use.

So if people who are who have a great video
workflow might be actually selling that

workflow to people, they might be selling
technology they're building to people.

People who are building websites might be
building better ways of building websites.

I'm currently using an app called Canva,
which is now a unicorn, but Canva is simply a

better way to make and present

So it's really interesting stuff that's
happening out here today.

And people are making money in all kinds of
different ways online.

With that, of course, we have inequity just
sort of growing and flourishing online.

So influencer data is really, really sad
right now.

This also came from that the hashtag I
mentioned, the company I mentioned, it's like

Glassdoor, #FYPM. You know, across all of the
-isms we're seeing where straight, white,

cisgender creators are doing a fantastic job
making money while everyone else is

suffering. You know, the left, the sort of
left hand frame shows that your average

straight, your average straight creator who's
at the highest echelon is making a quarter

million dollars a year.

Your average, you're sort of high-ending,

your high-end queer creator online is making $15,000 on
average in the middle.

You've got by race your white creator again,
quarter million dollars.

Apparently, it's hard not to make a quarter
million dollars online if you're a straight

white person, but your average black person
at the highest end, $1,500 dollars.

And then we're seeing that same thing happen
across gender.

Part of the reason this happens is because
brands reach out to folks and they offer

white creators money and they offer queer
creators, creators of color, product.

So they'll say, Hey, I love you, try my

We'll pay you in more shampoo to the creator
of color.

But they pay the white person or the
straight person in actual money.

And folks don't know how to talk about it.

They don't know how to value their work.

They're often just happy that a brand's paid
attention to them.

So there's an educational piece here,
there's a data piece.

But regardless, this distinction and this
this bias is already popping up.

This is a highly unregulated space.

But I would love to see a digital space
where folks are actually able to have some

sort of regulation around it.

Can we have a creator minimum wage?

Like that would be dope to think about
digital creators having an actual minimum

wage that actually, given the way that money
flows in and out of, might be higher than

your minimum wage, sort of for doing
traditional retail work or traditional work in in

the real world. And I use that with my
quotes because I think this is the real world

actually. This is, again, really important
because in my opinion, I'm making a big bet.

My big bet, I can only afford five bucks.

But by 2025, nearly all cultural workers
will be earning revenue online.

And in that sense, the cultural sector will
be indistinguishable from media and

technology. And that means, let's say you
have a play and your play is, it's on

E-commerce platform because you're selling
merch on Etsy and you crowdfunded for the

play on Kickstarter, and it's a musical.

So you're using a platform like Spotify or
iTunes to actually sell the music, and then

your performance is online on YouTube, and
then maybe you're actually turning some of

those scenes and performances into digital
artwork, whether that's static digital

artwork, you can make an NFT out of the
music, or anything else.

But as you can see, just from this basic case
study, our cultural sector can make a lot of

money by thinking about digital.

And I think that many independent creators
in particular are already thinking this way.

And we most certainly need to have
institutions to support them as they begin to

experiment in this particular way.

Oh man, I am so good, I said, segue
perfectly into "how do we get free?"

So first we have to rethink ownership.

A lot of the platforms I just mentioned are
owned in traditional manners.

They have founders, they have shareholders,
and those folks are the ones who reap the

benefits. And when I talked about $800
million coming in and most creators are only

making $20,000 coming out,

most of that money is being held inside of
the corpus of the organization.

And the folks who are reaping the benefit
are the people who founded it and their

shareholders, not the creators who are
actually doing the labor to get the platform

going. A better model would be to think
about co-ops.

Platform clubs have a bunch of benefits,
including better health care for the folks

who work there. A return on the investment
of users.

Higher levels of engagement of users with

And most certainly on the user side, the
users get better content because there's not

a scarcity mindset, but from the folks who
are actually creating the content and who

owned the platform. On the policy side, we
really also need to rethink policy.

Right now, our creative policy is really,
we're thinking a lot about sort of

traditional things that we've always thought
about in terms of labor, perhaps doing a

little bit on intellectual property, perhaps
thinking about housing locally.

But we really need to begin to tap into some
of these some of these fights that are

happening right now around what free speech
looks like online, what ownership looks like

online. And there are a lot of groups who
are doing fantastic work in this space that

we should plug into as a cultural sector and
learn from and really, really support.

I think we have so much to contribute, but
we also have a lot to learn from the work

they've been doing for four decades now.

And then finally, we have to rethink

When I'm when I'm talking to my students, I
realize that most of them are never planning

to work a full time job, which means if
they're 1099 employment, they're

not going to buy a house or have a hard time
getting loans for anything.

Health insurance.

There are all these things that happen when
you have a full time job because so many of

our benefits are attached to employment.

And unfortunately, similar to the quote that
I read at the beginning around how we're sort

of educating people for a world that doesn't
exist, in many ways, our financial sector and

philanthropy is actually funding a world
that doesn't exist anymore or is soon to not

exist anymore. We have to really be thinking
about independent creators and what they

need. A better model would be investing in
character based lending, whereby these folks

are getting lenders are really getting to
know the people that they're lending to, who

really understand creative businesses, who
recognize that like, yes, a core, core need

of a business is functioning computer

Or maybe if you are a videographer who has
to sort of upskill and do better, video

cameras can run from, a decent one, can run
you up to $90,000.

However, if you have that, you're eligible
for jobs that you wouldn't otherwise be

eligible for. So we have to be in
capitalizing people.

We need lenders who understand the creative

And yeah, I just think that's something
that's really, really important is how

capital is flowing to independent creators
and how they can get some patient capital.

Low, low interest/no interest loans, I
think, are really key to how we finance their

work. And with that, I really, really thank
you for your time.

I'm happy to engage with you, however

You can hit me up on Twitter I'm @Ruffin.

On Instagram you get me @Loruffin or @Cruxxr.

Again, thanks for your time and hopefully
you found this talk helpful to you and your practice.
Kamal Sinclair | Making a New Reality: A toolkit for inclusive media futures

Description of the video:

Hello, my name is Kamal Sinclair, and I am the senior director of digital innovation at The Music Center in Los Angeles. Today, I'm gonna share a little bit of research that I did that's now co-authored and turned into a book with Jessica Clark, called "Making a New Reality." And when I think about this idea of reality, human beings, we really do think we have a grasp on it. <laugh> And then something comes along and it blows our mind and changes our sense of reality. And throughout each of those kind of moments of having to negotiate "What the heck does this mean?"

We've always had artists that were there to kind of basically serve as, you know, a provocateur of somebody synthesizing all of the conversations, somebody that is bringing up, you know, the human condition and what it means to be a living person in a lived experience as our sense of what is real shifts as we change and advance different aspects of technology and so forth.

So about 500 years ago, we had a massive
kind of disruption to how we used communication, which the arts is a tool for which knowledge is transferred and which identity is understood and all of those things. And that happens through communication architecture, a medium, a channel. And so those channels just exploded, in the, you know, when the printing press came, when we had, you know, radio and television and you know, this broadcast of information, and these broadcast of voices happened.
And the, and the artists showed up, with, in different movements, trying to understand this and creating experiences within the arts that helped us to go, huh, okay. Now I'm starting to get a sense of, of what this all means and what it means for me. So now we are about 40 years into yet another major transition in the communication architecture itself and the implications of advancements in science technology. And advancements I use lightly because, you know, there is a real critique around progressive,
progressivism within technology that everything is always moving forward. When in some ways you can argue technology can move us back. So here, we're talking about smart cities, we're talking about artificial intelligence, we're talking about, you know, kind of blended biological and technological

bodies. You're talking about, you know, dream technology. You're talking about, you know, treatments in medicine that, like in this instance, helping paraplegics to, you know, feel

Sensation in their toes. When they think move my legs, they see their legs move into Oculus or virtual reality headset. And then an exoskeleton responds to that brain.
You know, that moment where your brain tells your legs to move and the exoskeleton moves them for you. And this is having profound implications. You have bioengineering <laugh> spider mixed with goat equals milk that can be used, can be strained to create these advanced textiles. You have a baby born with three biological parents. What that blows our minds on what is real, like a fundamental thing that you think, oh, that that could never be, we have only known two parents, you know, a sperm and a egg only, to create a child. You have image - moving image and data that can be stored on and encoded on DNA.

And then you have a filmmaker that went ahead and put 40 years of their films on their own DNA. You have artificial intelligence being created in with, you know, with, on, in, with whatever the technology term is around. DNA becoming artificial intelligence. You've got organic xenobots, organic robots that can multiply. You've got manufacturing in space. You've got, you know, colonizing Mars. You've got, you know, this metaverse concept. And all of this, the artists are responding and asking those questions. What the heck does this all mean? The artists are using documentary interactive, video gaming geo-aware composition. They're using, you know, data storytelling, they're using the internet of things and, and smart objects to tell stories, real time. You know, blended reality between your body and, and these digital images of your body.
Hyper reality, you know, blended reality. And then you have these kind of, like this is a headset you could play a video game with,

and we're using, we're becoming different canvases for this, with our cyborg nature,

ourselves on our own bodies, and cyborgs actually exist and are embedding technology into their bodies. Blockchain and history, AI making film conversational and conversational AI that is creating ancestral AI, and artists hacking <laugh>

our biology left around New York City to not only kind of know our ancestry and so forth, but to use FBI DNA profiling system to 3D print our faces. So there are a lot of concerns that came up through this research,

and most of it came down to who is at the table this time to imagine our futures,  

right? So we know from a Silicon valley study,
and many, many other ones, that, you know,

women very much not at the table, Black, Latinx, not at the table, and Asian, not fully at the table, and even Asian men experience a bamboo ceiling within these environments. So Cara Mertes at the Ford Foundation at the time was at JustFilms leading it. And she said, when television was an emerging medium, we, Ford said, we've got to create public space in it. However, it was 25 years too late in terms of creating an abundance space. But they did, were able to see things that became things like PBS. But how do we avoid being 25 years too late? Well, Web 1.0, you know, already, we are still struggling to try to make access to the internet a universal right.
Web 2.0, we're now struggling with, you know, the kind of issues around big giant corporations, you know, and our data and our social, addictive design and social dilemma and all of these things, algorithmic injustice. And already Web 3.0 is now rolling out with smart cities and blockchain and artificial intelligence.

And Web 4.0 is on the horizon, which is, you know, having very personalized AI help us to navigate, you know, billions of terabytes that no single individual could negotiate. So a lot of people are calling this the fourth industrial revolution, and it's happening at a time of political strife it's happening at a time of climate crisis. Now, when you go back to previous industrial revolutions, you see who wasn't at the table. And for instance, indigenous people in this country were not at the table. And that has created a huge missing piece of the puzzle as we negotiated the technology that catalyzed and, and kind of created the industrial revolution. And we just got the bill for that exclusion of diversity of thought and not bringing in value systems around stewardship of our environment that could have been included. And that's climate change.

So a lot of concerns came up as we interviewed people around this time, but for every concern, we asked them to give us at least one intervention. And so what are those interventions? You know, a lot of them circled around mitigating our biases and a lot of them circled around mitigating group think and breaking silos between fields of knowledge, and then of course, structure and policy. How are we creating, you know, creating spaces that are not just kind of existing in echo chambers? How are we looking at collaborative design? How are we advocating for media and tech responsibility? So some of the design principles that came forward were, you know, design justice, which there's a book by Sasha Costanza-Chock, that you should check in.

Design well-being: there's a lot of, especially with the pandemic, a lot of things looking at how do we actually design for wellbeing rather than, you know, GDP or wealth.

How do we deal with universal design where inclusion is actually, uh, beneficial to all? And then things like "Emergent Strategy" by Adrienne Maree Brown, the MIT collective wisdom co-creation lab that published collective willing wisdom about the power of co-creation to mitigate some of these kind of pitfalls. And one of the examples that they share is this incredible co-created project with domestic workers around the country that really shifted the narrative from domestic workers being invisible members of society that are considered, you know, the lowest, like, level of our class system to being the superheroes that are the engine behind how all of us function. And that went from this story, this idea, this art project to now artists and architects and real estate developers are creating care houses that bring all the ideas that were generated from that work, around

how do you have just and fair cradle to grave care that is regenerative for all? And just?
And so at the Digital Innovation Initiative at The Music Center, I'm, you know, charged with asking that question: what is the future of performing art centers, especially in Web 3.0? It's physical, it is virtual, and it is blended in terms of blended reality. We have now hit Web 3.0 in a major way. And, and what does that mean to be not just a smart city, but an art city in that context? There's a paper by Jenée Iyer that talks about, you know, how the arts are essential to creating and sustaining the cities of tomorrow. We're also looking at how, unless the arts are part of these conversations, then we are going to, you know, have the infrastructure prescribed to us rather than citizens being able to spark their imagination through creative processes to shape their own cities.

And so this is, this is a huge question for me, both in the opportunity, but also in how do we mitigate new and emerging technologies
creating that injustice, particularly looking at algorithmic injustice, surveillance, and all of those things within a smart city environment. How does a cultural home for the citizens of Los Angeles become a safe space for creating the image? I mean, not the image, but shaping this future of our city in a way that is inclusive in a way that is vibrant culturally, that is not kind of moving towards a future that may feel like a Matrix movie or a Minority Report, something that maybe doesn't have that soul, that the arts can really bring to it. So I'll leave you with this: "The progress of racial justice and the development of technologies are not linear. Every time you develop a new technology, you need to have a thought process about the history and system of oppression that the technology is being created, and released, into. Think about ways to bend the technology to justice and not allow it to replicate, entrench, and worsen injustice." So right now, as a steward of arts resources, I hope that I can be part of a community that is bending technology to justice. Thank you so much.
Sydney Skybetter | I Hope This Keynote Finds You Well

Description of the video:

Greetings, nerds.

Right now, as you take in the momentous-ness
of this YouTube keynote, you may be wondering

who is this generic-a** white man?

Well, my name is Sydney Skybetter, and I'm a
professor at Brown University, which is an

Ivy League university.

So, like, yeah, your your mileage may vary.

Before going any further.

I have to first thank and then apologise.

Mostly apologize to Doug, Joanna and the
entire production team at the Arts,

Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab.

These sorts of virtual events are a total

Total clusterf***.

So. They're really they're really hard to

And you all are the best.

I want to thank you also the viewer, for
clicking a link on the Internet, which, given

the last few weeks may actually be both the
minimum of what was required and the most

that could be brought to bear.

So like, good on you.

And in all honesty, I hope this keynote
address finds you well.

I hope this keynote finds you well and
planning to start like seven podcasts.

I hope this keynote finds you with opinions
on the media reflective of the moment, such

as Reservation Dogs, which is an incisive
portrait of indigeneity, loss and hope, or

the latest Matrix movie, which is bad when
watched straight, but good when watched gay.

I'm not so sure about the latest Top Gun
movie, though.

I mean, it looks rad, but also maybe bad?
Like my dad let me see the original Top Gun

when I was a toddler and it traumatized me
into pursuing a Russian literature degree

without the benefit of speaking Russian.

I hope this finds you not arguing on the
internet that the next James Bond should be

Black, because apparently that's something
people on the Internet have been doing.

Because, look, I get it.

Idris Elba is very, very handsome.

But maybe having a Black, psychologically
unhinged murderer representing a down and out

colonial superpower that tried to take over
Africa isn't part of the long arc towards

justice the Internet seems to think it is.

I hope this finds you ready to meet the
trials of your time.

I hope this finds you capable of
distinguishing between the twin columns of

our era: irony and racism.

Because there's a whole lot of human
4chans out there spouting a lot of s***

like racist diaper geezers up the back of
representative democracy.

Is this the sort of thing I'm supposed to be
talking about?

I mean, I honestly have no idea how to
make a YouTube keynote interesting.

The only instructions I got were to talk
about the arts and institutional inequity.

I literally don't f***ing know.

I mean, so my dad was diagnosed with cancer
the other day.

It's still very early and he's doing well,

He's been getting out of doing dishes by
saying he can't do chores.

He's too busy battling cancer.

It's not funny

"ha ha?" But still, things have been a little
disjointed since.

I hope this finds you with loins girded for
the world, which, let's face it, is an

epidemiological turducken, a fractal
infinitude of f***-it-up-edness, a stack of turtles

that goes all the way down.

But the turtles are metaphors for precarity,
inflation, racial capitalism, surveillance

capitalism, late capitalism, neoliberal
capitalism, carceral capitalism and

monkeypox. Because apparently we have to deal with
monkeypox now too.

"How to keynote

good, comma,

inspirational, comma,

jokes despite everything being terrible."

How are you? Like,

like, really? How are you?

You doing okay? You doing well?

You hanging in there? Because you seem to
have your act together.

And if you're not doing okay, then I am f*****.

I hope this finds your artistic and
intellectual talents, your brain sluices and

your privilege ready to get out the vote.

Ready to fight for your rights.

Ready to march.

Ready to organize.

Ready to do the work required to meet the
trials of your time.

Ready to blow s*** up with love, and then do a
slow, unfazed walk towards the camera.

Like Idris Elba's character, Stacker
Pentecost in the Kaiju classic Pacific Rim.

When I was 12 and going away to art school
for the first time, my dad gave me a CD with

Barber's Adagio for Strings on it.

He said it was one of his favorite pieces of

I think he heard it while watching the film
Platoon and said something about how it was

played at JFK's funeral.

But that's not quite right.

Jackie O arranged for the National Symphony
to play the piece after he died.

It was one of JFK's favorites, but for an
empty concert hall.

I remember listening to that piece on repeat
for months on my busted-a** CD player, the

thickness of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's

And every time the music crescendoed off a
cliff into silence, I welled up.

And it wasn't the triple lutz fortissimo

It was the crushing, palpable, reverberant
absence of a silence after that gave me a

glimpse into Dad's emotional life, which, as
a pre-teen, I had no particular aperture

into. I was thinking of this.

Oh s***, sorry.

One second.

Hello? Sorry.

One second. No, absolute.

Thank you. Thank you for calling.

No pineapple. Just on on the left side.

Stuffed crust. That's great, stuffed crust.

Speaking of apertures, I'm going to
be etymology guy for a second.

Did you know that the Latin root of the word
entrepreneurship is "entre" meaning roughly to

swim out, not just to swim, but to swim out
to some out there beyond past the alignment

of the known. It's a utopian kernel that
acknowledges a present state but gestures to

a future one.

So I hope this finds you creative
entrepreneurs seriously emphasizing the

"entre" in entrepreneurial and maybe leaning
out from the d****bag Silicon Valley late

capitalist dumpster fire

sense of the word.

Wait, wait. I'm on a roll. So since I'm
going to be Ivy League, "Webster's Dictionary

defines etymology" d****bag,


Ivy League etymology person for a second,
let's talk technology.

So the Latin root of technology is "techne"
which is conventionally translated as craft.

But I've also seen it translated as roughly
to make an opening.

Techne-ology. Technology, then, is the branch
of knowledge dedicated to making openings,

catalyzing possibility.

I prefer this understanding of the word to,
like, technology as expensive object designed

for planned obsolescence on the basis of a
f*****-up global supply chain.

I mean, go back a few thousand years and
techne-ology is about expanding individual and

collective means.

There's a politics to that word that's been
totally lost that I want to hold on to.

That I need to hold on to.

I don't understand the use in pretending I'm
okay or that we're okay, or that any of this

is okay.

My doctor literally diagnosed me with
something called Computer Neck the other day,

and my five year old woke up screaming last
night because her throat hurt and she was

afraid she had COVID and that if she went
back to sleep, she'd never wake up again.

Like, how can I think about artistic
excellence or whatever when the state of

Rhode Island has shut down all its testing
facilities and my kid is sick?

Is that just how this works now?

Is there anybody out there that's unscathed?

And if so, do you have a podcast?

You all need to read Anna Watkins Fisher "The
Play in the System" now, it's a manual for

life right now. Fisher is like, look, we
can't just turn off capitalism.

We can't divorce ourselves from our
implication in military industrial research

or hegemonic technologies.

Our protests and resistance are always
already co-opted by that which we seek to

dismantle. That's just the weather these

But if we're already implicated, what can we
do with that implication?

How can those of us who hold structural and
situational power like me, but more

importantly like you, artists, managers and
administrators, how can you wield your

privilege to redirect attention, cash,
health care, access to abortions, and power

to those who are made to fall out of the

Now, "The Play in the System" is infuriating
to read because I so badly want a surgical

option for surveillance capitalism.

But maybe what it means to do the work right
now is to do what we can, not what we want.

After all, producing, to paraphrase Rancière, is the art of the possible.

F*** this is depressing.

Here at Brown, I teach my students how to
think about bodies in relation to computation

and about just how easy it is to habitually
see ourselves like the computers see us, like

data points, motion captured, the pattern of
life, not the life itself.

Now, notionally, I teach choreo-robotics,
but really I teach what it means to be

fleshily embodied in a world built
increasingly for machines.

The best part about "The Play in the System"
is its proposal of a theory of parasitism

which grows.

But stick with me.

It's all about what it takes to live within
a hostile system like the university, like

racial capitalism, like the not for profit
sector, systems that will absolutely

annihilate you if you don't appear to follow
the rules.

But some of the rules can be bent, others
can be broken.

The play in the system suggests that to
dismantle the Matrix you don't and can't go

full Neo Ted Kaczynski and unplug from the
grid and just blow s*** up.

Right? It's not possible.

And since you can't escape it, you have to
sit with your tiny dole of power occupying

your slice of positional privilege and wait
for any narrow aperture through which you can

redirect resources to those the Matrix
intends not to let survive.

In this context, if you're actually doing
super great right now, you're either not

paying attention or are sociopathically
disinterested in the nature of the world,

because wellness is not the same as care.

Wellness is privilege, unconscious of

I don't know how to be well right now and
know $20 virtual Peloton hot stone yoga class

is going to give your lower lumbar spine
sufficient forward flexion to fight the f***ing

power. It's because of my dad, because of
the Barber, that I learned how formal

construction permits certain aspects.

I became a choreographer because of you,

Your dorky love of Barber and Chicago and
the Beatles and Star Wars and Top Gun taught

me about nostalgia and how compositional
form creates an opening for people to feel.

Now at the age of 16, I decided to become a
choreographer because I wanted to make people

cry. The idea was that I would choreograph
my dancers movements through space and time

with such brilliant, even mystical, formal
construction that my audiences couldn't help

but feel the angsty teenager-y crap that I
felt at the time.

This is, I should acknowledge, a pretty
crappy approach to art making that didn't

consider consent or power or privilege.

Years later, though, I started doing
choreographic research into emerging

technologies when I realized that
architecting platforms to coerce people into

having feelings without their consent and
subliminally nudging them into doing things

without rational choice making?

That's literally Facebook's business model.

That's literally how Google works.

That's literally how online marketing is
designed to function.

These platforms succeed in so much as they
separate our bodies from our agency.

We founded the Center for Research on
Choreographic Interfaces here at Brown to use

artistic practices to further our
understanding of how computational systems

like robots, like artificial intelligences,
like surveillance systems, affect our bodies.

We try to understand how our bodies are
compelled to perform for the technologies we

use. Any conversation about design or
technology should start with a consideration

of bodies. We're almost we're like almost
done, right?

To be alive right now is to be a contestant
on a Gong Show of 1000 calamities.

I literally cannot remember all of the
things I'm terrified of.

Ebola. Killer bees.

Inflation? Must be Tuesday.

Heat dome. Fukushima. Terminators.

Nothing will keep me from my Pilates class.

Starving polar bears.

The police. Al Gore on a scissor lift.

Degradation of bodily autonomy.

Avocadoes getting more expensive.

This is the point of "The Play in the System."

Nonparticipation isn't an option.

You can't not use the Internet.

You can't not be tracked by Google.

You can't not need money.

You don't have a choice but to participate.

Your implication at cooptation are

But maybe the platform capitalist umbilicus
that governs your world also makes resistance

possible. To paraphrase spoilers from such
films as The Babadook, Nightmare on Elm Street

and Home Alone, maybe it's not so much that
you're stuck with them as they're stuck with

you. So I ask each of the four people who
actually watched to the end of this keynote.

Hi, Dad. Hi, Mom.

I love you.

I hope this finds you making and holding
space for others and dedicating yourself to

envisioning and acting and swimming out
towards worlds other than the one we

currently inhabit and not other worlds like

Thank you, Elon Musk.

It's a metaphor, dude.

Mars can't save us, you Olympic a*******.

I'm talking about a more just world here and
now on this non metaphorical planet.

I hope you're reading up on your Octavia
Butler, your Simone Brown, your Ruha Benjamin

and your Sasha Costanza-Chock, because what
comes next in this verkakte country is no secret.

And because I'm mad as hell and I'm not
going to take it anymore, I sincerely hope

you're mad too, and ready to f****** do something
about it.


Event Schedule (EDT):

1:00 - 2:30 PM

Keynote Panel

This panel will convene the keynote speakers in a discussion moderated by Omari Rush.


2:30 - 2:45 PMBreak
2:45 - 4:15 PM

Midway: A Panel at the Intersection

Presented by CultureSource


Informed by the keynote panel discussion, this discussion highlights the multi-hat wearing creatives in the field: those who balance the perspectives of “boots on the ground” and a 3,000 foot view as both creatives/artists and art administrators. All working out of the Midwest, the panel brings together folks from all edges of the arts & culture sector to delve into the middle ground where data and inequities in the arts meet. 


4:15 - 4:30 PMBreak
4:30 - 5:00 PM


Presenters from the Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation Lab and CultureSource will wrap up the symposium series with final thoughts.


Event Partners and Funders