The Monuments Project: when technology fosters social change
"All of our heroes are slave owners that would own people like myself if they were still around." - Glen Cantave, founder and CEO Movers & Shakers NYC
Imagine being able to combine innovative AR technology with the ambition to rewrite the long-standing narratives of the marginalised and socially oppressed to empower future generations. It's so much more than being tech savvy, it's what I call having a vision.
Yeah, I also grew up being proud of my fellow Italian Christopher Columbus thinking he was the valiant explorer who sailed the seas to discover the Americas and bring back potatoes. Never mind the fact that he decimated the indigenous communities in the process and that the three caravels doubled up as slave ships, I certainly do not recall my primary school teacher ever saying that.
Imagine growing up being surrounded by monuments glorifying the people who oppressed and enslaved your ancestors, a constant, relentless manifestation of white supremacy and social injustice. I don't know what that feels like. I am white, I am Columbus' fellow citizen, my hero is celebrated everywhere I go. Thankfully, history is fluid, and while events stay the same and cannot be undone, it's how we tell and interpret these stories that changes.
Movers and Shakers NYC have developed an app that literally delivers on their vision. Thanks to AR, students (and anyone with a smartphone) will be able to render digital monuments of leaders of colour, such as Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress. The app will be made available to middle students with the aim of promoting more equitable representation in the school curricula. Imagine needing an app to see yourself and your history, just imagine.
An AR monument of Shirley Chisholm.
Photo courtesy of Movers and Shakers NYC