Artists and Hackers

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July 21, 2021

Ep. 6 - Reclamation and Worldbuilding in the Iyapo Repository

The Iyapo Repository is a digital resource library built to preserve the digital histories and legacy of people of African descent. Our guest is Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde (Ayo), co-creator along with Salome Asega.

Tags:

Digital Commons
Speculative Futurism
Worldbuilding


In this episode we’re talking about the Iyapo Repository, a digital resource library that’s built to preserve artifacts ensuring the history and legacies of people of African descent. To set that up we’ve got to talk about Afrofuturism.


Afrofuturism is a term coined by Mark Dery in 1993 to refer to the intersection of African diaspora culture with technology and science fiction. It’s a cultural movement where artists, designers and musicians were inspired by visions of the future, creating a new spectacular art that spoke to a new Afrocentric vision.


Afrofuturism is not a singular vision but a branching philosophical and aesthetic project with many approaches in every art form and many standout examples. Afrofuturism has also been critiqued for an emphasis on technological determinism, kitchy space aesthetics and at times the exclusion of women and queer voices. But there’s been an evolution.


In 2013 Rhizome published artist Martine Syms’s The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto.

The imaginative challenge that awaits any Mundane Afrofuturist author who accepts that this is it: Earth is all we have. What will we do with it? –excerpt from The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto


And one person at the forefront of this radical reimagining is Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde or Ayo for short. Ayo prefers the term Reclamation to describe the work he’s engaged in. He’s co-creator and producer of the Iyapo repository with Salome Asega. It’s a resource library for the future, founded to collect and preserve artifacts to ensure the history and legacy of people of African descent. The project is named for Lilith Iyapo, a character in Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series, the last remaining human left to straddle two complex worlds.


Iyapo Repository offers opportunities for people of African descent to generate and build technological cultural artifacts of their future. The project is situated between physical and digital spaces, between the present and the future. It asks us to reimagine notions of race, identity and culture through technological artifacts as they travel through time and place. Iyapo Repository



Ayo Okunseinde, image by Yvette King
Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde (ayo), photo by Yvette King


Guest


Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde (ayo) is a Nigerian-American artist, designer, anthropologist and time-traveler living and working in New York. He studied Visual Arts and Philosophy at Rutgers University where he earned his B.A. His works range from painting and speculative design to physically interactive works, wearable technology, and explorations of “Reclamation”.


Credits


Our audio production is by Max Ludlow. Episode coordination and web design by Caleb Stone. This episode was supported by Purchase College.


Our music in this episode is The Come Up by Audiobinger, Fireflies by Xylo-Ziko, Note Manual by The Books, and Nighthawks by Timezone LaFontaine

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