Immersive media vibrates embodiment. It allows the viewer to dissolve into dimensional narratives, making experiences and bodies pliable. The introduction of VR, AR, and interactive exhibitions into practice has given nonfiction media makers new tools to tell expanded narratives. In turn, these same tools, with their capacity to innovate, strengthen the need for accessible storytelling. The disabled community, in particular, calls for a radical restructuring of pre-existing frameworks, from inclusive asset libraries to cripped (accessible) workflows and haptics.
Presented by the Nonfiction Access Initiative, this panel centers on the disabled experience as a creative force central to mapping and expanding the field of immersive media. Contending with the virtual and practical infrastructure that brings it into our lives, leaders in the field of immersive accessibility come together to build a critical scaffolding around accessible, immersive storytelling.
The panel is part of the Nonfiction Access Initiative (NAI) to invite disabled immersive makers to fill out the Nonfiction Media Makers with Disabilities Survey. Panelists include Joanna Wright from Access and Disability Working Group at Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab, Vanessa Chang from Leonardo/ISAST, Sultan Sharrief from The Quasar Lab, and disabled immersive artists; Nat Decker and M Eifler. Moderated by Nonfiction Access Initiative (NAI) Funds Program and Access Coordinator Cielo Saucedo. ASL and CART Captioning will be provided.
Cielo Saucedo is an disabled artist from a family of migrant farm workers. They work with computer generated imagery, non-fiction writing and sculpture to disrupt notions of humanism and make space for disabled mind-bodies and ecologies. Technology mediates their artistic production with the wax and wane of their ability.
As a curator, writer, and educator, Vanessa Chang builds communities and conversations about art, technology, and human bodies. She is the Director of Programs at Leonardo/ISAST. She holds a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University, where she was a Geballe Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center and ran the Graphic Narrative Workshop. She was the lead investigator for The Grid: Art + Tech Report (2020) and taught Visual & Critical Studies at California College of the Arts. She recently curated Recoding CripTech at SOMArts Cultural Center, Intersections at the Leonardo Convening at Fort Mason Center for the Arts, and Artobots. She has appeared on NPR’s On the Media and State of the Art, and her curatorial work has been profiled in such venues as Art in America and KQED Arts. Her writing has been published in Wired, Slate, Noema, Los Angeles Review of Books, Journal of Visual Culture, and Animation: an interdisciplinary journal, among other venues.
Nat Decker (they/them) is a Chicago-born Los Angeles-based artist interpreting the intimacies of queer and disabled lived experience as provocation toward collective care and liberation. Operatively creating between digital and material mediums, they identify the computer as an assistive tool affording a more accessible practice. Often from bed, they use digital 3D software to trace serpentine connections between the body and technology, reimagining fantastical mobility devices as cultural celebration and agitation of conventional desirability politics. This cyclically informs their work with sculpture, creating non-functional mobility devices as aesthetic scrutiny and frictional commentary on designations of usefulness. Nat is also an access worker, consulting on accessibility for organizations such as p5.js, New Art City, Creative Growth, the LA Spoonie Collective, and various projects at the University of California, Los Angeles. In June 2022, they graduated from UCLA with a degree in Design/Media Arts and Disability Studies.
M is an artist and the Founder of BlinkPopShift, a disability futures lab proving disability is a hotbed of innovation. They are best known for their computational prosthetics like Prosthetic Memory, Masking Machine, and Invisible Sculpture. M is a 2023 Disability Futures Fellow, and their work has been showcased internationally. (Plus, they make excellent cookies ... good to know in case of snack emergencies.)
Transmedia Artist turned Media Scientist with a specialization in social impact and design. He holds a BA in Film from the University of Michigan, an MS in Comparative Media from MIT, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts & Practice at USC. His directorial debut feature film, Bilal's Stand, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and he has since produced two additional feature films, two documentaries, and a TV program. In 2018 he founded the Quasar Lab at MIT, an institutional-hacking research lab that uses disruptive community organizing as a strategy for futurist design. Sharrief is currently an XRts Fellow at ASU Herberger Institute, is the Event Designer for the MIT XR hackathon, and is now leading the program design for the new Haptics Lab at the ASU New & Emerging Media program in the ASU California Center.
Joanna Wright is a Welsh documentary artist and researcher. She is a current research fellow at MIT Open Documentary Lab / Co-Creation Studio, where she co-convenes the Access & Disability Innovation working group and is an advisory committee member for the Non-Fiction Access Initiative Research.