Hyphen-Labs uses objects and virtual reality (VR) as another dimension in which to tell stories and center the experiences of women of colour. NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism (NSAF) is a transmedia exploration told through speculative product design, emerging technologies, cognitive research, and transhumanism. Created by and for women of colour, Hyphen-Labs presents a multi-layered possible future that transcends the constraints of the present; a realm which The New Yorker has called “another plane of consciousness.”
NSAF was created partly as a response to Black Lives Matter in relation to the killings of Black men in America - Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. The work presents Black women as neuro-scientists using the space of the beauty salon as a revolutionary underground system for a fundamentally new shared exchange of ideas.
For this exhibition Hyphen-Labs are showing a teaser of their VR film and visual examples of objects from the film. The VR experience is the first chapter of a science fiction story placing you in a “neurocosmetology lab” where Black women are the pioneers of brain optimization. Here, instead of ordinary braids, customers are fitted with transcranial electrodes that allow access to a surreal digital temple blending the physical with the digital. Themes of security, privacy, and visibility unify six speculative products, ranging from UVBeams (a transparent sunscreen specifically formulated for skin high in Melanin) to Hyperface (a facial recognition obscuring, anti-surveillance textile developed in collaboration with artist, Adam Harvey). This work was part of the 'Thirteen Ways of Looking' exhibition (2 October - 13 December 2020)