February 2: Hine Fellow Artist Talk by MFA|EDA Alum Nick Pilarski

In-game shot of the "Fireflies: A Brownsville Story" docu-game in which a bright moon glows against a city skyline.

Image from Fireflies: A Brownsville Story

Is it possible for a documentary work not only to expose, but also to heal the wounds of a community? This was the question and challenge recent Duke MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts graduate Nick Pilarski (’15) faced as a Lewis Hine Fellow in Brownsville, New York, working at a justice center situated in the middle of longtime antagonistic housing projects and their rival gangs. 

In response, Pilarski worked with residents to co-create Fireflies: A Brownsville Story, a “docu-game” that visualizes and gives spacial form to oral histories in which residents navigate Brownsville, Brooklyn, through extended reality technology. Fireflies was made in the Brownsville Game Lab to document community need and increase understanding and connection between youth fragmented by real-world conflict. 

Nick Pilarski | Hine Fellow Artist Talk
Co-Creation in Interactive Documentary
Fireflies: A Brownsville Story and other documentary placemaking projects

Thursday, February 2, 5 p.m.
MFA|EDA Shop Lab
1509 Campus Dr, Durham, NC 

Through the process of community ethnography, community members used game engines to engage in dialogue as a way to identify shared dreams and goals for their community. This dialogue, and the solutions derived from it, helped to influence city wide art-and-technology-policy recommendations for New York City. Considered one of the largest interactive oral histories of its kind, projects developed in the Lab brought together more than fifty Brownsville youth and over one hundred community members who built computers, programmed the game design, captured community interviews through 3D volumetric video, authored the interactive scripts, and engaged in music design.

Cosponsored by Duke’s MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program and Center for Documentary Studies (CDS). The Lewis Hine Fellowship is a CDS program.