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Connecting diaspora across continents


Return connects people in different places through gesture and light. Parallel installations combine digital technology with emotive exchanges to create a sense of presence and shared space.


Birthed from a desire to create ways for African diaspora to engage with their historical and present day relationships, Return explores the idea of diaspora as physical, mental and social states of separation.

This international project will culminate in a range of installations connecting diaspora across continents.

Phase 1: Prototype

At Light Night Leeds, portals at Leeds Town Hall and The Tetley allowed people to throw waves of light to each other.

Hand gestures triggered waves of light, white waves for you, and blue waves from the people on the other side.

People appeared as anonymous outlines and used gestures to communicate.

This prototype was well received by over 7000 visitors, with laughter, excitement and surprise.


Concept and fabrication: Akeelah Bertram

Interaction technologist: Simon Fletcher

Network specialist: Ed Waring

Fabrication support: Invisible Flock


Return was conceptualised and constructed whilst Akeelah was Artist in Residence at Invisible Flock.


Return is kindly supported by Light Night Leeds, Arts Council England, Frequency Festival, Brighton Digital Festival and East Street Arts. Phase 2 is currently supported by The British Council.

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