Return will be an interactive installation emotively connecting audiences across continents.
Parallel portals will use audience gestures and audio-visual responses to create a sense of physical presence between locations.
The project will culminate in a range of portals connecting audiences on the African continent with audiences of African descent globally. Return will explore the idea of diaspora as physical, mental and social states of separation.
Return was conceptualised in response to the ‘door of no return’ in Elmina’s Castle, Cape Coast, Ghana. Since visiting in 2018 Akeelah has reflected on diaspora connections to the continent through sites like this and others on the West African coast.
Diasporas manifest a variety of dynamics; from the micro to the macro various definitions, dichotomies and divergences occur. The intention for the work is to create an experience that embodies the reflexive and conversational nature of diaspora connections.
Return grounds a significant cultural exchange in technological innovation and speaks to themes such as lost data, memory and living monuments. This experience will honour connections to the past and enhance relationships between diaspora communities in the present.
The 'Door of no return' Elmina's Castle, Ghana.
Return portals will combine sensors, actuators, sound, sculpture and light. Digital technology and analogue outputs will be used to develop the interactions between remote users.
Computer vision technology will collate data about movement, gestures and position, which will then be processed in real time as audio-visual outputs.
(For example Portal A will read gestures of audience members and translate them as physical outcomes in Portal B and vice versa.)
The portals will display an array of interactions that will create a sense of metaphysical presence between virtual audiences.
Generative machine learning will be used to make outputs that differentiate enough to create nuanced responses for individual users whilst being semantic enough for users to recognise patterns in the output and effectively communicate.
Pictured: Structural experiment for Return
Return is currently supported by Invisible Flock Studio and Arts Council England.
To find out ways to support or collaborate with the project please submit enquiries through the contact form.