New Haven teens worked with lead artists David Goldberg and Tahir Hemphill of the Rap Research Lab to develop tools to empower them in discussions of how technology is used at the intersection of popular culture and the criminal justice system. Participants considered 21st-century intersections of race and technology, artificial intelligence (AI), community data projects, and were provided hands-on experience exploring culturally relevant Big Data. The students designed their own VR experiences, introducing New Haven residents to this cultural and technical landscape.
Lead Artist: Tahir Hemphill
Creative Technologist, Director, Rap Research Lab
Tahir Hemphill is a creative technologist whose practice investigates the role systems play in the generation of form and the role collaborative knowledge production plays in the resilience of communities. Tahir uses computational analysis to draw out what is usually unseeable in the semantic structures within large bodies of archival text. Coming of age in the 1980’s Tahir divided his time between practicing different elements of Hip-hop culture and exploring cyberspace with a dial up modem. Today, Tahir considers Community-focused Open Source to be the theoretical framework that supports these two early educational influences, and it fuels the tension between his reverence for traditional models of scientific inquiry and the critical reflection he applies to creative technology projects. As a result, Tahir’s work straddles art, technology and archival research. The frameworks that support these influences are synthesized into his current creative pursuits at the Rap Research Lab, where they catalyze critical discourse through the production of VR, AI, and community data projects. To do this, Tahir leads cross-functional teams of artists, radical educators, narrative designers, software developers and researchers who explore rap music as a text to pressure notions of identity, race, gender, class, place, and justice in our modern era.
Program Assistant: David A. M. Goldberg
David A. M. Goldberg is a veteran cultural practitioner of hip-hop and a writer, teacher, programmer, and media developer who has used a lifelong interest in art, culture, and technology to transform the means by which people access, assess, and organize knowledge. He holds degrees in Computer Systems Engineering (B.S. Howard University 1993,) Visual Criticism (MA California College of the Arts 2002,) and is currently pursuing his PhD in American Studies from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.