openFrameworks + Detroit + The Work Department + Collaboration = Awesomeness

In February, The Work Department co-sponsored the Technology, Collaboration, Community, and Change event with Emergence Media, rootoftwo, ArtServe Michigan, Allied Media Projects, MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit) and the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition. The event series was ignited by the openFrameworks conference which was also co-hosted by the The Work Department and OmniCorpDetroit. We had some nice media coverage from the Knight Foundation here and Michigan Public Radio produced a fantastic radio story here.

We believe that technology can be used to transform communities, empower people and create innovative tools and works of art. This week-long series of events explored how open-source technology could be used to do that work within our communities. Our collaborative program featured members of openFrameworks who, at the time, were organizing their annual, international developers conference in Detroit. For those who are unfamiliar, openFrameworks is an open source C++ toolkit designed to assist the creative process by providing a simple and intuitive framework for experimentation. Check it out!

We kicked off our first event, Initiate at MOCAD on Saturday, February 25th. The multimedia lecture featured local, national and international artists, designers, community organizers and technologists who actively investigate creative uses of primarily open-source technology and approaches to creating art and social change. Initiate was well attended by Southeast Michigan residents, ranging from interdisciplinary artists to grassroots organizers.

Initiate’s panel featured:

  • Nina Bianchi (The Work Department/Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, Detroit, MI)
  • Michelle Soulierre (Broken City Lab, Windsor, Ont.)
  • Shane Bernardo (Earthworks Urban Farms, Detroit, MI)
  • Janel Yamishiro/Diana Nucera (Detroit Future, Detroit, MI)
  • Zach Lieberman (openFrameworks/Parsons, New York, NY)
  • Moderated by Ilana Weaver aka Invincible (Emergence Media, Detroit, MI)

Individual presentation were given by:

  • Golan Levin (openFrameworks/Carneigie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Evan Roth (Graffiti Research Lab/Free Art & Technology Lab, Paris)
  • Matt Kenyon (SWAMP/University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Cristobal Mendoza ( State University, Detroit, MI)
  • Roland Graf (Assocreation/University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Cezanne Charles/John Marshall (rootoftwo, Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Jon Brumit (MOCAD, Detroit, MI)
  • James George (openFrameworks, Brooklyn, New York)
  • Damian Stewart (openFrameworks, Vienna, Austria)
  • Patricio Gonzalez Vivo (openFrameworks, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Kyle McDonald (openFrameworks/Parsons, New York, NY)
  • Jeff Crouse (openFrameworks/Parsons, New York, NY)

Over the course of the weekend, we enjoyed a range of exciting conversations with the openFramework folks and local community organizers while strengthening relationships with our program collaborators.

The weekend came to a close with an amazing DiscoTech at the Mount Elliot Makerspace on Sunday, February 26th. If you haven’t heard, DiscoTechs (Discovering Technology) are mobile multimedia workshop fairs organized by the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition. Participants typically learn more about the impact and possibilities of technology within our communities and take part in interactive, multimedia workshops ranging from basic electronics, solar energy, computer literacy and media making. These drop-in workshops are folded into conversations about digital justice and telecommunication policy. This particular DiscoTech also featured an intro workshop to openFrameworks where attendees experimented with building new systems for interaction that move away from the screen and into physical space. Shea Howell, a contributing writer for the Michigan Citizen newspaper, wrote a moving article about this event here.

Check out additional photos from the weekend here:

Golan Levin, openFrameworks

Nina Bianchi, The Work Department

We’re honored to have had the opportunity to co-produce such a unique series of events and thank everyone who played a part in its success!