The artist uses VR technology and motion capture data to create individual video portraits in an archive of black dance culture
Times Square Artsthe largest public platform for contemporary performance and visual arts, is pleased to present Motion Portraits by artist LaJune McMillian for the month of June as part of the signing of the organization midnight moment series. Motion Portraits is presented with a gallery of bitforms.
Midnight Moment is the world’s largest and longest-running digital art exhibition, synchronized to more than 90 electronic billboards across Times Square every night from 11:57 p.m. to midnight. This year, Times Square Arts celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Midnight Moment series with a list of all female artists through April 2023.
LaJune McMillian’s Motion Portraits inspired by the artist Black Motion Library (BML) project, a library for activists, performers and artists to create various XR projects, and a space to research how and why we move, as well as an archive of black existence. Using Motion Capture and Unreal Engine, performers send their motion data to be translated into visuals. Through this series of VR performances and installations, the artist has created a growing archive and digital tool dedicated to black dance and movement, reflecting the idea that bodies and movement are more than data points. and avatars.
For Midnight Moment, McMillian will present a collection of Motion Portraits which show performance of Roobi Gaskins, Lamb, Maurice Renaldo, Rukijah Towersand RaFia Santana with documentary footage shot by Manuel Molina Martagon. Past performances have featured artist Nala Duma and dancer Renaldo Maurice.
“Motion Portraits serve as a way to learn more about the performers who contribute their motion data to the Black Movement Library. What happens when we ritualize the process of archiving data collection and invite the community to testify? The black movement not only represents our individual experiences, but it also represents our collective memory, transcending space, time, and oppressive social structures. It allows us to connect to each other, to our ancestors, to our innermost selves, and gives us space to communicate about our future. The black movement is a technology that contains the stories of our existence across the diaspora. said artist LaJuné McMillian.
McMillian was inspired to start the Black Movement Library by the lack of diverse characters and movements in 3D modeling software, flaws in motion capture databases, and lawsuits against the video game Fortnite for using dances by predominantly black creators without permission, compensation or credit. The “Milly Rock” dances became “Swipe it”, the “Carlton” became “Fresh”, and so on, effectively erasing the origins of these dances. McMillian’s project explores methods of combating the erasure, dilution and exploitation of black culture and people. The artist’s work asks the viewer to reflect on how they can discover, learn, invest and manage systems that privilege liberation and abundance.
LaJune McMillian’s first solo exhibition, Embedded metadata, will be visible at the bitforms gallery from June 23 to July 30, 2022. The artist Black Movement Library Portraits will also be presented at the Tribeca Film Festival as a VR experience as part of the festival’s New Voices competition from June 8-19, 2022.
ABOUT LAJUNE MCMILLIAN
LaJuné McMillian is a new media artist and educator who creates art that incorporates performance, extended reality, and physical computing to challenge our current forms of communication. They are passionate about discovering, learning, manifesting and managing spaces for liberated black realities and black imaginations. McMillian believes in fabrication by diving into, navigating, critiquing, and breaking down the systems and technologies that maintain systemic injustices to decommodify our bodies, undo our indoctrination, and make room for different ways of being.
McMillian has had the opportunity to show and talk about his work at Pioneer Works, National Sawdust, Leaders in Software and Art, Creative Tech Week, and Art & Code’s Weird Reality. Previously Director of Skating at Figure Skating in Harlem, they integrated STEAM and figure skating to teach girls of color about movement and technology. McMillian continued her research on darkness, movement, and technology during residencies and fellowships at the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, Eyebeam, Pioneer Works, Barbarian Group, and Barnard College.
ABOUT BITFORMS GALLERY
Founded in November 2001, bitforms gallery represents established, mid-career and emerging artists critically engaged with new technologies. Covering the rich history of media art through its current developments, the gallery’s program offers an incisive perspective on the fields of digital, internet, temporal and new media arts. Since 2020, bitforms gallery has maintained a satellite location in San Francisco at the Minnesota Street Project which became permanent in 2021. Supporting and championing the collection of ephemeral, temporal and digital artworks since its founding, gallery artists bitforms are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; Arts and Media Center (ZKM), Karlsruhe; Center Pompidou, Paris; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, among other international institutions.
ABOUT TIMES SQUARE ARTS
Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experience and interact with one of the world’s most iconic urban places. Across the Square’s electronic billboards, plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, as well as the Alliance’s online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators, such as Mel Chin, Tracey Emin , Jeffrey Gibson, Ryan McGinley, Yoko Ono and Kehinde Wiley. , to help the public see Times Square in a new way. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the arts program ensures that these qualities remain central to the neighborhood’s unique identity.