Originally conceived of and organized pre-global-pandemic, the 6th annual Software for Artists Day (S4AD) aimed to unite a diverse group of creative practitioners addressing issues related to accessibility in tech. Through our governments’ failed response to the virus, areas of friction related to technological access, especially in already excluded communities, were made painfully more visible. As institutions, schools, and community-based organizations moved their operations online, we saw certain populations of people, such as students, low-income individuals, and others living on the fringes of society, battle to find and take advantage of the resources, if any, made available to them through challenging, obfuscated, and out-dated electronic interfaces.
Through work that includes the use of open source systems, development of software for people with disabilities, and projects charting safe online spaces, the artists of this year’s S4AD find common ground in an investigation of equitable relationships between users and makers of digital tools. We are excited to announce talks and workshops from the following participants: patternist Onyx Ashanti, esteemed poet Simone White, hacktivist Grayson Earle, digital anthropologist Caroline Sinders, machine learning pioneer Irene Alvarado, and video artist/programmer Olivia McKayla Ross.
To coincide with the event, The Creative Independent, Arena, and Pioneer Works have collaborated to produce Software for Artists Book, a new publication containing interviews and writings by S4AD participants past and present. Edited by Willa Köerner, the book features artists such as Tsige Tafesse, Rin Johnson, Grayson Earle, Salome Asega, Ryan Kuo, Stephanie Dinkins, and ann haeyoung. The book also engages our community through “Digital Diary” entries, submitted through a public open call, which together reflect our emerging, quarantine-fueled relationships to the virtual. Software for Artists Book will be released the day of S4AD, and attendees will be able to order low-cost print copies of the book or access a free PDF version.
Additionally, an S4AD Slack channel, created for the event, will allow guests and speakers the opportunity to discuss with one another as a stand-in for the physical gathering. Through the creation of individually focused threads on that channel, we hope that the platform can be used to facilitate direct action and collaborative projects between community members. If you’d like to participate in the Slack channel, please register by Friday, July 17 at 5 PM EDT.
Special Thanks and Additional Organizing
Willa Köerner, Leo Shaw, Charles Broskoski, Salome Asega, Lucia Roldan, Maddie Pinney, Neta Bomani, Bomani McClendon, Mary Thompson, Noah D’Orazio, Taliesin Gilkes-Bower, Dave Sheinkopf, Justin Frye, Julia Gladstone, Ari Melenciano, and Micaela Durand
This program is supported in part by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.