Art is, in many ways, an instigatory tool. It plays a pivotal role in amplifying technical conversations and broadening participation in these dialogues. Both Art and Creativity are languages that everyone can understand and relate to. Using them as tools to convey complex concepts becomes essential as we work to expand who is in the room when we have critical conversations about trustworthy AI. It is a translation of the spoken to the seen and visualised.
Art and creativity are integral to the success of MozFest. They shape the festival narrative and consistently hold space for the exploration of complex and technical conversations in creative mediums. In June 2023, MozFest and the Africa Mradi Team hosted a Fireside chat to build momentum towards MozFest House: Kenya. After an immersive conversation on whether AI brings more harm than good to Africa, Kenyan Artist Mijide exhibited a live graphic recording of the conversation.
As we explore art and creativity and their place in conversations in the tech space, the idea of artistic translation can be scaled to a larger audience and larger conversations. Imagining the power of collaboration between artists of different mediums contributing to a shared piece of work that displays conversations, collaborations, and co-dreamings from community spaces. The creation of creative sanctuary spaces in which to explore the trustworthy AI and internet health movement.
The idea of art as a means of communication materialized, bringing local artists to our MozFest House installation in Kenya. The goal was to platform local creatives and their work, and the space soon became a playground for experimentation with the virtual and digital. Below is a summary of the artists who exhibited:
A walkthrough of the MozFest 2023 Science Fair, designed by Picha to be a futuristic utopia, through VR headsets. The Science Fair was hosted in Mozilla Hubs and included the work of Jacque Njeri mounted on virtual walls, portals to a series of creative projects, and more. MozFest participants were also invited to play a variety of VR games.
A collection of Afrofuturistic digital artworks by Jacque Njeri, a multi-disciplinary artist whose work addresses issues related to culture, history, science fiction and female empowerment. Her unique and powerful visual style incorporates projected extraterrestrial realities that challenge and inspire audiences around the world.
Artist and digital inequalities practitioner, and 2022 Creative Media Awardee, Esther Mwema, exhibited the project Afro-Grids: a creative storytelling project that uses African folklore as a methodology to deconstruct and explore the relationship between big tech’s ownership of African internet infrastructure and digital colonialism. The project marries decolonial scholarship and imaginative storytelling to reveal the reality of undersea internet cables throughout the African continent.
Margaret, a fine art photographer, filmmaker, and Web3 enthusiast exhibited a series of works titled “Elation” which reflect the feeling of overwhelming delight and excitement, and returning home in the spirit of creative motion.
A curation of pieces from various collections that encapsulate Ed’s profound affection for the vibrant interplay of hues and the myriad of styles that define Ed’s illustrative journey. Illuminated within these pieces is the resplendent beauty of individuals of African descent. Ed is a Kenyan artist and illustrator renowned for his vibrant and dynamic style. His work blends traditional African themes and motifs with contemporary pop culture.
A sneak peak into the Obsidian Circus World: an ever-expanding art world and creative ecosystem for Queer African Creatives. It is home to galleries, world expansions, explorations of art and its intersections, and unique explorations of identity.
MozFest House: Kenya was a display of the talent that lies in the heart of Kenya and its creative scene. These pieces allowed people to take a breather from active conversation on the ground, challenged interpretations of African peoples, showcased the beauty of African peoples, and added colour to the gathering space.
Art and creativity are invaluable tools, crucial to our communities and to thought partnering through conversations on AI and technology and its impacts. As we move through future phases of community gatherings to to co-build a future of trust, safety, and knowledge sharing, it is imperative that we continue to question how art and creativity can be used to complement technical conversations, festival narratives, and the themes and issues gaining traction in our activism.
Embracing the essence of art, artists, and boundless creativity, MozFest hosted Songs of the Living: The Salon in early December 2023—an immersive exploration of creativity, technology, and music. The event drew a diverse crowd, including artists, musicians, and technologists, with Toshi Reagon, a renowned composer, producer, and storyteller, leading the sonic circle.
The conversations we had surrounding the current state of AI and its relation to the different creative practices were truly remarkable. We discussed the impact of technology on our lives and work, exploring various aspects of AI, including its potentials and concerns.
Looking forward, preparations for the community choir's activities in the upcoming year are underway. We're planning rehearsals for March to reconnect and strategize for the live performance of Songs of the Living later in the year. We're excited for you to join us on this cosmic journey. Keep an eye out as we'll be reaching out in early 2024 with specific dates and details for participation!
Tyler Munyua is a creative and activist with a background in law and an interest in how art, law and tech intersect. Tyler is also the Wrangler Program Assistant on the MozFest Team.