Outside Insights

Voices beyond the TTTT project partners: two projects

Adam Sings in the Timber interviewed by Sylvain Souklaye

In the recording, Adam and Sylvain discuss what it means to be an indigenous American in the colonial school system. Sings in the Timber also explains his approach to photojournalism, which champions the narratives of the Native people [and narratives composed and spoken by Native peoples]. One can follow this work at https://singsinthetimber.com/ and via #IndigenizingColonizedSpaces.

Samantha · Interview with Adam Sings In The Timber (master)

Reading the Response

During this project's timeline, amidst a global pandemic, a summer of global activism took place opposing police brutality and demanding the defunding, reorganization, restructuring, and redefinition of institutions of policing, particularly in the United States, but also other communities across the globe. Starting in early summer, the upsurge of activism was sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police. 1 This devastating scene was filmed by many onlookers and these videos went viral on social media along with hashtags for Floyd and many other victims, for example, #briannataylor2, and #elijahmcclain3 to name just a few in a much too long list. All of this was central to the activist campaign #Blacklivesmatter.

The witnessing on social media of Floyd’s murder4 also spurred arts organizations to send out emails expressing solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centring Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives. https://blacklivesmatter.com/about

The emails were all, of course, supportive of BLM, but was this all they were saying? Were the institutions just being trendy? What, if any, was the emotional component of these letters? If they were sincere, was there any way to know it? How can we be sure that each of these institutions is willing to work on this issue within their own individual bodies and against the biases that may have formed the institutions themselves? The following video, “Reading the Response”, is an exploration of the emotions behind 24 emails sent within a few weeks of Floyd’s murder.

“Reading the Response”, video documentation by Samantha Hookway.

“Reading the Response” is a 34-min. screen recording of 24 emails sent from different arts Institutions in the States and Europe. Each email’s text is copied into a browser-based dialogue box with enabled artificial intelligence5 that reads the text’s emotions. This process has been used previously to evaluate the tone of voice in messages sent to students via Gothenburg University’s online learning platform.

  1. “How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody”, New York Times, May 31, 2020. 

  2. “What to Know About Breonna Taylor’s Death”, New York Times, April 26, 2021. 

  3. Here’s What you need to Know about Elijah McClain’s Death, New York Times, October 19, 2021. 

  4. “Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder of George Floyd”, The Guardian, April 21, 2021. 

  5. grammarly.com A service attached to a spell checker, grammar checker and plagiarism detector for browser-based texts. The emotional reading is not the tool's main function but was exploited in this work. Note this process and service provided by grammarly is building data for the digital capitalists that own the tool and thus there is a “corpus” (the data used to train machine learning) that is being institutionalized beyond this project’s aim.