© Jean-Michel Lacombe
is a sound designer and media artist based in Vancouver, Canada. Heavily inspired by the interactive nature of our relationship with technology, his work actively explores and challenges the long-running effects of modern-day technology on our perception of ‘self’ and how it dictates our actions and reactions toward our environment, social life and justice, and technology itself.
With simplicity and elegance, Arman Paxad’s “White Shade” invites viewers to move their bodies, get close to the poster and decode the message behind the word “white.” This embodied encounter with BIPOC, the acronym which stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color, is open to interpretation. What is clear is the division between both terms – the distance between them. And if we think about planes, a hierarchy might be implied that makes BIPOC appear after, underneath, beyond, White.
When racialized subjects are discriminated against, the basic principle is a hierarchical distinction between “us” and “them” that works precisely because it stresses this difference. This work asks us to examine how discriminatory categories and divisions are woven into the technologies we use, the images we see, the messages we share; and it invites us to see how discrimination goes beyond images and screens, affecting people’s actual interactions and overall life opportunities.
The term BIPOC has found a safe haven in the media and minds of people who consider themselves concerned about the long-running presence of racial and social injustice in the Western world. However, I can’t help but see it as a reductive term that not only continues to categorize human beings based on the color of their skin, but also daringly attempts to fit all “non-white” people into a single box. This term is in fact just another instance of the old “us versus them” mentality; and I don't believe that using such terms will actually help erase the traces of racial bias from our cultures. On the contrary, they will be widening the gap.