Breonna Taylor Is The Subject Of A New Augmented Reality Art Experience That You Can Participate In, Too

Breonna Taylor
Provided photo
Breonna's Garden surrounds viewers with some of Breonna’s favorite things including flowers and butterflies.

Art Basel art fair in Miami is paying tribute to Louisville’s Breonna Taylor with an augmented reality experience that you can also participate in remotely. Digital curator Lady PheOnix worked with Taylor’s sister, Ju’Niyah Palmer to create the experience titled Breonna’s Garden. 

The experience will be installed at Maurice A. Ferré Park (Museum Park) in Miami, Florida from Dec. 1 through the 6. You can also download an app to bring the experience to your home.

Breonna’s Garden first premiered at the Tribeca Festival. The experience is revolutionary as a space that puts the digital in the physical and surrounds viewers with some of Breonna’s favorite things including flowers and butterflies, according to a news release. 

The project started when Lady PheOnix connected with Palmer sensing that there was a needed safe space online where family and friends could mourn, and after some discussion, that there were entire communities that needed a place to process this grief. 

“We created Breonna’s Garden to honor the life of Breonna Taylor with the intention that it be a peaceful refuge, unencumbered by the weight of the world,” said Lady PheOnix in a release. 

Since the birth of the project, it has changed from a mechanism for healing for her family to one that gives that to the nation.

From the release,  “It is a sanctuary where her name can be said without negation, and others can share their own stories of grief without fear of judgement. The technology allows people in the garden to record their own messages, which can be heard by the next visitors, effectively creating a chain of vulnerability and hope that helps to heal entire communities. 

“Breonna died in a world of violence, but she will live on in peace surrounded by beautiful memories, butterflies, and her favorite things, ” said Lady PheOnix in the release.  

The artists involved in its creation, “volunteered their time.”  

In addition to the Breonna’s Garden experience, There will be a panel discussion on the 5th of December from 2-3 p.m. at the Pérez Art Museum also in Miami with Lady PheOnix, Alex Kipman (head of Microsoft HoloLens/ and developer of Xbox Kinect, Taylor’s partner Kenneth Walker and producer Joanna Popper (HP’s Global Head of Virtual Reality).

The Players and the Partners:

Lady PheOnix - Executive Producer and Director

Lady PheOnix is the leading voice for contemporary digital art and culture, providing an essential platform for the art and artists of our time. As a passionate producer of creative works at the intersection of art and technology, she is deeply interested in the relationship between humanity and virtual beings. She was selected to participate in the 2021 Athens Biennale for her work AIYA. Inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, AIYA is not your typical virtual human. AIYA was designed to explore the concept of heightened humanity from a lens often ignored in popular culture. Lady PheOnix is the founder of the premier art and cryptomedia advisory, Universe Contemporary, and co-author of the forthcoming book, Freedom Dreams in the Open Metaverse.

Sutu - Creative and Technical Director

Sutu (aka Stuart Campbell) is an Eisner-nominated, Gold Ledger, and Webby Award-winning artist and director whose life is devoted to social impact and pioneering new kinds of digital experiences. Art and technology have been merged in his creative practice. Now a leading creator in digital interactive storytelling for mobile AR and VR. Sutu holds an Honorary Doctorate of Digital Media from Central Queensland University and is a Sundance and Tribeca Fellow. In 2016, he partnered with AR pioneer Lukasz Karluk to co-found the groundbreaking augmented reality studio and platform, EyeJack, supporting this project.”

About the Partners:

FilmGate Interactive 

FilmGate Interactive returns on Dec 3-5, 2021, for its 8th edition in Downtown Miami and Miami Beach. The Festival highlights how emerging tech developments influence new narratives and entertainment. Over three days, you will experience some of the most innovative local and international virtual and augmented reality projects, interactive installations, provocative fireside chats, and intimate networking events with the industry's most inspiring leaders.

Microsoft Mixed Reality Diversity & Inclusion

Microsoft’s Mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. To honor this mission and our company core priority of diversity, equity and inclusion, the Microsoft Mixed Reality team has been a proud supporter of Breonna’s Garden. Our Mixed Reality Capture studios provided volumetric capture and technical assistance. Our Mixed Reality Diversity & Inclusion team activated engagement and sponsorship to the project, with our Black @ Mixed Reality employee resource group driving the creator and partnership collaboration. 

Center for Subtropical Affairs 

The Center for Subtropical Affairs is an ecological learning center in Little River that provides jobs and career training in sustainable development to the community. We work with students of all ages to advance environmental education, resource conservation, and overall environmental health. CSTA pairs environmental education with cultural arts programming to make science accessible and engaging for all.

Perez Art Museum

The Perez Art Museum’s mission is to be a leader in the presentation, study, interpretation, and care of international modern and contemporary art while representing and cherishing the unique diversity of Miami-Dade. Their exhibitions and programs aim to encourage everyone to see art as an incentive for genuine human interaction, communication, and exchange.”

From the release: 

Diliana Alexander, the Executive Director of FilmGate Interactive, encountered Breonna’s Garden at its world premiere at the Tribeca Festival. She immediately saw its potency at a time when gun violence in Florida was rising, and the world was recovering from the loss of human life due to the waning Covid pandemic. With a grieving world, and added risks to large gatherings, a digital safe space has never been so necessary. 

With two ways to participate, either at the FilmGate Interactive Media Festival or from the comfort of your own home, this experience is open to everyone. Whichever option you choose, the virtual garden will begin to grow around you, with a beautiful monument of Breonna, a hologram of very special guest Ju'Niyah Palmer, and glowing flowers that hold recorded messages from Breonna’s friends and family. Breonna would have turned 28 this past June. Breonna’s favorite flower was the tulip. So, when you say her name, do so with flowers on your tongue. The app invites each participant to record their own message, continuing the theme of support and community and allowing everyone the opportunity to leave something positive for the next visitor.

Now is the perfect time to say her name louder.”

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