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Immersive Art & Technology Initiative 2022

support for emerging technology as an art form in order to expand access and diversify the field

Grantee: En Foco

Immersive Technology: Art, Activism, and Community

South Bronx Facilities Bronx, NY and online

Partnering Organizations:

Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (Pregones PRTT)
Bronx Council of the Arts


En Foco partnered with Pregones, BronxNet, & Bronx Council on the Arts to develop a series of informational workshops and panel discussions to introduce a community not generally aware or informed about immersive technology. The sessions were marketed widely, each receiving a coordinated campaign to reach a targeted audience. En Foco prioritized building a new network and community of artists, administrators, and local community members as an integral part of this specialized programming.

The sessions were mostly hosted on Zoom beginning with the first session on August 11, 2022. This session featured an introduction to immersive technology and included presentations by Will Roberts, Trish Gianakis, Betty Yu, and Antonio Serna. The presentations outlined ways that artists have engaged with immersive technology, and provided new access points for beginners. The first two sessions included live captioning provided by zoom and two ASL interpreters provided by All Hands In Motion LLC.

The second session was hosted virtually by Pregones on August 19, 2022 and focused on performing arts groups. Kyoung’s Pacific Beat, North Star Projects, and the Anonymous Ensemble each presented examples of their immersive experiences, and the panel discussed how immersion has revolutionized storytelling and the human experience. On August 30, 2022, the third session focused on community access and featured Najiyah Edun, Antonio Serna, Will Roberts, Adriana Gaviria of North Star Projects and Jessica Quinones of BronxWorks. This session focused on how community members and organizations can access immersive technology software and hardware. Live captioning was provided.

The final session was hosted in person at the BronxNet Studios on September 13, 2022 and featured Betty Yu, Will Roberts, and Trish Giankis. The session prioritized hands-on demonstrations and each panelist covered a different tool or app used to create immersive experiences including Adobe Aero, Spark AR, blippAR, & Echoes.XYZ.

Consulting Artists

En Foco engaged consulting artists Antonio Serna and Betty Yu, who were responsible for working alongside the En Foco team to develop the arch of the Immersive Technology: Art, Activism, and Community series. Serna organized the introductory workshops and assisted with the standardization of curricula across events. Serna presented the introductory curriculum at 3 of the 4 sessions. These sessions covered topics including overviews of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality, the degrees of motion available, as well as low cost, medium cost and high cost tiers for immersive tools. Serna was additionally responsible for assisting with the coordination of accessibility services and acted as liaison between En Foco and the ASL Interpretation service All Hands In Motion.

Betty Yu was responsible for developing a presentation that introduced participants to her immersive projects, low or no cost options for immersive experiences, and the ethical aspect to this developing technology as it impacts the development of communities, artists, and people of color. Yu was also largely responsible for identifying media and digital justice and equity based resources that participants could use for further information or support in the realm of immersion and digital equity. Yu presented this information at 2 of 4 sessions.

At the culminating session held in person at the BronxNet Studios in the South Bronx, Yu and panelists Will Roberts and Trish Gianakis, demonstrated accessible ways to engage with immersion, including BlippAR and Echoes.XYZ. Each app is accessible via desktop and cellphone and is initially free to use. BlippAR uses the camera on any device to create and read virtual interventions that have been mapped onto an image or surroundings. These interventions allow for videos, photos, audio clips, and other media to be coded into an image that can be scanned by anyone using blippAR to access the media. Echoes.XYZ uses geolocated immersive sound to develop audio tours and can be used to create immersive experiences anywhere. Yu demonstrated this application by mapping the history of Hip Hop in the Bronx.

Betty Yu is Chinese-American multimedia artist, filmmaker and activist born and raised in NYC. Her documentary "Resilience" about her garment worker mother screened at film festivals including the Margaret Mead Film Festival. Yu's multimedia installation, "The Garment Worker" was featured at Tribeca Film Institute's Interactive. She worked with housing activists to co-create "People's Monument to Anti-Displacement Organizing" that was exhibited at Brooklyn Museum. Betty received the Laundromat Project’s 2016 SOAPBOX Community Artist Award and has been awarded residencies from International Studio & Curatorial Program and Santa Fe Art Institute.

She co-founded Chinatown Art Brigade, a cultural collective using art to advance anti-gentrification organizing. Betty won the 2017 Aronson Journalism Award for her film "Three Tours" about U.S. veterans returning home from war and fighting to overcome their PTSD. Betty’s first solo exhibition, "(DIs)Placed in Sunset Park" was at Open Source Gallery and was part of BRIC’s 2019 Biennial. Betty will have her curatorial debut this Fall in “Imagining De-Gentrified Futures” an interactive exhibition at Apexart where she will be exhibiting new work.

Antonio Serna is a Mexican-American artist with both a collective and studio based practice. His current projects include Documents of Resistance: Artists of Color Protest, an art/research project focusing on the history of art and activism of people of color, and The Same Sun / Calandar, a multimedia mediation on time, place, and race. Working collectively he is currently a member of the NYC Museum Workers’ Organizing Committee, a by-and-for worker empowerment and solidarity group.

Antonio's projects and collaborative work has been included the following books: Art for the Future: Artists Call and Central American Solidarities, Duganne, Erina and Abigail Satinsky, (Eds.), Inventory Press, 2022. Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest by Laura Raichovich, Verso Books, 2021. Making and Being: Embodiment, Collaboration, & Circulation in the Visual Arts by Caroline Woolard, Susan Jahoda, BFAMFAPHD. New York: Pioneer Works Press. 2020. Art As Social Action: An Introduction to the Principles and Practices of Teaching Social Practice Art by Gregory Sholette, Chloe Bass, Social Practice Queens. New York: Allworth Press, 2018. Reflecting on Reconstructing Practice: Toward an Anti-racist Art & Design Field by Lauren Willaims. Pasadena, CA : Antiracist Classroom/ArtCenter, 2018

A selection of panel discussions. August 19 and 30, 2022, stills from Zoom.


I was thrilled to be a part of the online event Immersive Technology: Art, Activism & Community co-hosted with BronxNet and Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. In my experience, there have been very limited opportunities for me as a woman to grow and learn from others in the immersive technology realm. There are few resources and affordable training available for Latiné artists to develop and build their experience with new technology. Participating as a panelist for Session #2: Performing Arts & Immersive Tech and Session #3: Community & Immersive Tech was immensely rewarding. I learned so much from the conversations that took place in the panels and in the online chat from attendees as well as from the panelists themselves. Being able to see and hear about the work firsthand that other artists are doing was so inspiring. The full series expanded my knowledge in immersive technology and also grew my artist network. This project was so deeply needed in the Latiné community, and I am so grateful to En Foco and all the community partners for welcoming me and inviting me to such a fantastic series. I loved the opportunity of being able to share our work with each other and of being able to have an honest conversation with each other about our challenges and concerns of the new and unfamiliar as well as our hopes and dreams for using immersive technology as part of our storytelling and advocacy work. I hope more opportunities and programming like this can be available in the future. It is projects like this that will empower artists, community organizations and institutions to begin thinking about incorporating immersive technologies in their work and implementing them in ways that prioritize cultural equity and access. - Adriana Gavira, attendee

Key Takeaways

En Foco developed the Immersive Technology: Art, Activism, and Community series as a natural extension of their Works-in-Progress Media Fund, an opportunity that funds artists engaging with new and digital media in the Bronx. While coordinating the series, En Foco was aware of the growing need and desire for tech-based programming and opportunities in the Bronx. En Foco engaged with several local community organizations, artists, and other possible collaborators throughout the process. En Foco observed similar issues experienced across their collaborators including the critical lack of funding for opportunities for Bronx artists wishing to engage with tech as part of their practice.

Several of the artists En Foco engaged with during the presentations shared related experiences of having to teach themselves the technology or having to rely on other artists within their networks for support or access to resources for their work. Of special significance for En Foco was their engagement with BronxWorks, a major Bronx-based social service organization that provides services to unhoused people, older adults, and students. BronxWorks intends to collaborate with one of session’s presenters to determine how to broaden their services with this technology.

Moving forward, En Foco continues to explore potential avenues to provide additional resources and opportunities for artists in various mediums and lens-based practices. En Foco believes that as the landscape of photography changes and grows, the tools and services provided to support our artists must evolve at the same pace. Through the Immersive Art and Technology Initiative, En Foco identified a major need within their community of artists and will add Immersive Technology as a funding priority for their Media Arts Fund for early-career media artists. The skilled and professional consultants who were engaged in the series will also be used as a resource for En Foco’s network. Additionally, the discourse that has emerged between their collaborators on this project will inform En Foco’s related programming and public engagement efforts.

Immersive Art & Technology Initiative Grantees