Art & Activism with Afrosurrealist Vince Fraser
"The real value of art is how it illuminates the margins and drives societal change" - Vince Fraser
We collaborated with Vince Fraser to bring his art to life in augmented reality for "We Rise Above," an AR experience that sees his artwork rise above virtual Black Lives Matter Plazas through our ARTECHOUSE mobile app.
Keep reading for more on Fraser’s creative process, politics, and perspective.
Vince Fraser is a visual artist of the times. Having transformed his past print-based approach off the page and onto the screen, Fraser welcomes the wave of innovative technology when it comes to his art making process.
For our collaboration with him on We Rise Above, Fraser considers the relationship between the accessibility of augmented reality and current racial-cultural discourse occurring in the United States and beyond.
Through the ARTECHOUSE app, users can activate both Fraser’s art and the activist within themselves. We spoke with Fraser about his art-making process and art's role in social change.
If there is one thing you hope people would take away from We Rise Above, what is it? Is there anything you hope people do beyond the app?
Keep fighting for equality, stop police brutality and systematic racism in America and worldwide. It’s time to "rise above” and use your voice to fight for justice.
Why did digital art initially interest you?
For me, trying out new ideas is key for any forward thinking creative. Digital art interests me because of how dynamic and captivating it is. The viewer is allowed to “live” a unique experience not normally obtainable through still photos.
Does technology add anything to your work that you could not achieve otherwise?
Technology adds an impactful element of storytelling to my work. Immersive media completely changes how we interact with the world around us. Artists can build deeper emotional connections and brands can connect in a more meaningful way with their customers.
With augmented reality, we can merge digital content with the physical world to create and deliver next-generation experiences. The impossible becomes a new reality, and the only limit is our imagination.
What is it like to see your work in augmented reality? How does it change the impact of the work?
Merging the digital with the physical world is always a good thing – it allows designers and artists to build and share immersive experiences in a new way.
The ARTECHOUSE app will prove to be a powerful visual storytelling medium and completely change the way we interact with the world around us.
As a Surreal artist myself, this has definitely opened up doors on how I can use augmented reality in a brand new interactive way whilst on the go! The fact that you can do all this from your phone with such ease and share it via social media platforms is priceless.
What is art's role in social change?
Art plays an important role in shaping the culture of a society as it creates a space for reflecting upon the times.
Some say that the purpose of an artist is to express the beauty of the world around them. I believe that the real value of art is how it illuminates the margins and drives societal change.
Art has the ability to express truth in a way that influences people for the better.
Would you deem your art political?
I would say yes, as it is focusing on raising awareness of important issues affecting Black communities.
With Black Lives Matter protests happening all over the world following the George Floyd killing, my art is an effective way of communicating a visual message which everyone can relate to.
In response to police brutality and other killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and many others, artists worldwide have been ignited – taking to streets to express themselves.
Art has become the ideal tool to reach communities, raise awareness, and impact education.
However – I don’t want to be labelled or pigeon holed, as there is so much more to me than just creating one type of work or narrative.
How did you go about selecting the music for your three experiences in We Rise Above?
My parents are from Jamaica, so music is in my blood. I listen to anything from deep house, neo soul, through to afro house, dub and jazz.
In We Rise Above, I feature a clip of a Rev. Al Sharpton speech, as well as the music of King Jammy, NANABCOOL, and a track by a Zimbabwean artist who creates great Afro house music.
Hearing Rev. Sharpton’s speech during lockdown was so powerful that I had to use it.
I’m also a big reggae fan, so King Jammy’s track was the perfect match. King Jammy (@kingjammysuperpower), is a dub mixer and record producer who began his career as a dub master at King Tubby's recording studio. His legendary dubs were known for their clear sound and use of effects.
The second track is by a Ghanian-American singer, songwriter, rapper called NANABCOOL (@nanabcool). He was raised in a musical family, quickly becoming enamored with perfecting Michael Jackson dance moves, singing in churches and winning local talent shows. Checkout his latest album Ice Tea!
How can the art world (and beyond) better support and amplify Black artists and voices?
Visibility is key and voices must be heard.
The creative community needs to be working together to produce fundraising projects, tributes, events and art in response to the history of violence and oppression towards Black people.
The art world needs to be harnessing their positions to make positive moves to amplify Black creatives within the sector. It needs to stay at the forefront of the industry in order to make real change.
What can we expect next from you?
I would love to do a full on exhibition show of my work so am currently open to all opportunities – hopefully with ARTECHOUSE in the near future.
You can expect me to keep evolving and improving on 3D and generative art. Installation art is something I have a big passion for and want to pursue this concept more in the future – stay tuned.
Follow Vince @VinceFraser