Damien’s ‘Black Terminus’ turns Tanzanian street art into digital masterpieces

For decades, technology has been an ever-accelerating force, simplifying and enriching our lives in ways we could scarcely imagine.

Among these innovations is ‘Black Terminus,’ a revolutionary mobile application that empowers artists without coding experience to infuse their work with digital magic.

The visionary creator behind this artistic marvel is Damien McDuffie, a polymath hailing from Oakland, California.

He is a digital artist, writer, and technologist. Damien’s relentless quest has taken him around the world, exploring the archives of various arts and crafts, all with the goal of re-igniting the astonishing power of that mobile application.

One of his most inspiring journeys led him to Tanzania, fired up by a passion to share his unique artistic visions with an eclectic audience at the Weekend Live event.

This event unfolded on a luminous Saturday, September 30, at the Nafasi art space in Mikocheni, Dar es Salaam.

During this artistic extravaganza, Damien spearheaded a workshop that brought Tanzanian artists into the digital age, teaching them how to harness technology to breathe new life into their art.

As he passionately shares, “Our goal is to democratise art and make it accessible to all,” he says.

However, this isn’t his first time in the country. Back in May 2022, Damien visited Arusha and Zanzibar with his team to make a documentary about black art and technology.

“The team follows me as I teach different artists to learn the tech. This year we premiered an exhibition and book based on our travels,” he says.

During that time, they created an exhibition ‘Into the Archives’, an augmented reality experience.

“The series is part live magazine, part documentary, and part AR exhibition about black art and cultural technology,” he shares.

The exhibit follows Damien as he criss-crosses California, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar Island, Senegal, and South Africa to build what he calls the AR Museum for the People.

Upon his arrival in Dar es Salaam last month, Damien’s mission was crystal clear: to ensure that every artist understood how to seamlessly integrate digital elements into their work.

With infectious enthusiasm, he explains that “Through this technology, they can enhance their artwork, gain more exposure, and even generate income from their creative endeavours.”

Speaking about the app, Damien explains that it is poised to reshape the artistic landscape.

“It is an augmented reality studio that breathes new life into black history, cultural archives, and a multitude of art forms. It’s all about bringing art to life in ways that people have never imagined before,” shares Damien.

He further reveals that the app has unique augmented reality that detects art, retrieves cloud-stored content, and brings the augmented reality experience to life.

“The app’s design is incredibly user-friendly,” Damien shared. “It empowers artists with zero coding knowledge to animate and digitise their art effectively. It’s a tool that can guide any artist through visualising their work and adding layers of depth,” he explains.

The innovation provides a gateway to elevating art by merging it with cutting-edge technology.

With a simple flick of a smartphone or tablet, the static artwork springs to life, revealing dynamic animations, enchanting soundscapes, and immersive storytelling.

The app is not just captivating but also a bridge between the physical and digital worlds. It’s art in motion, accessible at the tap of a screen.

Artists can submit their work to be featured in ‘Black Terminus,’ offering them a digital platform to share their talents with a global audience.

While the technology is available for Apple users at the moment, Damien explains that he’s now working on Android devices to function.

“We are trying to get it ready in time, as the android version of Black Terminus needed to be upgraded, and soon it will be available,” he says.The inspiration for this transformational app came from Damien’s encounters with black artists worldwide.

He observed a digital chasm separating traditional and digital artists who showcased their creations online.

Damien’s vision was clear: he wanted a platform where everyday artists, regardless of coding skills, could effortlessly transition their art into augmented reality.

“The AR experience for the people is rooted in Dr. Huey P. Newton’s treatise on community control of technology and the belief that black people can solve their own problems when major tech advancements and development are placed in their hands,” says Damien.

He believes that by involving more black individuals in creative technology, they could become the world’s storytellers.

Speaking of becoming the world’s storytellers, Tanzanian augment reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) storytelling company Ona Stories was the first agency to use Black Terminus technology in 2021.

At Nafasi, Damien seamlessly wove digital layers and animations into existing artworks.

Watching a static portrait burst into life, dancing, singing, or narrating a story, was a revelation.

Damien’s vision extends further; he envisions Tanzanian artists establishing their own augmented reality agencies.

“In the near future, the search for augmented reality artists for brand creation could become effortless in Tanzania,” he says.

His dream is to eliminate the need for artists to grapple with coding; they should have access to a platform where they can effortlessly create immersive experiences with drag-and-drop simplicity.

He passionately emphasised, “Consider Apple Vision Pro; most don’t realise that every element in those visions was created by artists at every layer. Artists are the creators of the future; it’s our responsibility to ensure people have the tools they need.”

In this redefined paradigm, viewers are no longer passive observers but active participants in the evolution of art.

Damien always believes that the Black Terminus AR’s mission is to develop, inspire, and enable the next generation of black creative technologists to tell stories of the black experience, black history, and afro-tunes from our own words.

With each new location it ventures to, the app enriches the arts and public spaces with creativity and interactivity, redefining how we experience art.

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