Ari Melenciano

Rapid Response Fellow 2020 - 2020

Ari Melenciano is an artist, designer, creative technologist, researcher, and educator who is passionate about exploring the relationships between various forms of design and the human experience.

Currently, her research lies at the intersections of human-computer interactive technologies, social impacts of technology, counterculture, sound, multisensory experiential design, experimental pedagogy and speculative design.

Ari is the founder of Afrotectopia, a social institution fostering interdisciplinary innovation at the intersections of art, design, technology, Black culture and activism. Afrotectopia is most commonly experienced via their annual New Media Arts, Culture and Technology Festival hosted by Google. Afrotectopia also most recently developed The School of Afrotectopia, hosted by Verizon Media, and served 250 students through 2 weeks of free courses.

What do you plan to do during Phase 1 of Rapid Response?

I will be building a series of gradually expanding prototypes of that will result in a 3D rendered online interactive environment, called üT¨u, that aims to use experimental pedagogy guided by biomimicry philosophy, indigenous ancestral intelligence, speculative design, and whole systems practices for new forms of gathering, exploring, and experiencing the web.

How does your work relate to the theme of the open call?

üT¨u is a new, online public sphere that simulates a utopian society rooted in natural intelligence. üT¨u greatly taps into the potentials of WebXR for widely accessible forms of interactive and immersive new media. And üT¨u is guided by the principles that technology can be rooted in harmonious beauty, discovery, and imagination before modern ideals of productivity, utilitarianism, and capitalism. üT¨u is also a pioneering project in considering architecture and spatial design for web experiences. üT¨u creates an opportunity to experience infrastructural beauty in digital forms. Overall, üT¨u is designed to be a digital render of a potential future that advances society for more equitable, humane, and sustainable ecological orientations.

What does the future look like to you?

The future looks abundant, for all, in ecologically-centered harmony.

What is your grounding ethos?

Nurture childlike virtue, stay curious, create beauty.