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Mimi Onuoha

Mimi Onuoha is a Nigerian-American artist who explores the friction between the fluid messiness of people, and the quantified, categorized state of our technological society.

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Mimi Onuoha is a Nigerian-American, Brooklyn-based new media artist and researcher whose work deals with the missing and obscured remnants forged from a society based on automation. Through layerings of code, text, interventions, and objects, she seeks to explore the ways in which people are abstracted, represented, and classified.

Onuoha has been in residence at Eyebeam Center for Art & Technology, Studio XX, Data & Society Research Institute, Columbia University’s Tow Center, and the Royal College of Art. Her exhibition and speaking credits include venues like La Gaitê Lyrique (France), FIBER Festival (Netherlands), Mao Jihong Arts Foundation (China), Le Centre Pompidou (France) and B4BEL4B Gallery (San Francisco). Her writing has appeared in Quartz, Nichons-nous Dans L'Internet, FiveThirtyEight, and K. Verlag. In 2014 she was selected to be in the inaugural class of Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows, and in 2017 she was nominated as a Brooklyn Artist of the Year.

Onuoha earned her MPS from NYU Tisch’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she is currently a Researcher. Most recently she has been named the 2018-19 Creative-in-Residence at Olin College for Engineering.

Selected AI projects:

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Written in 2018 by Mimi Onuoha and Mother Cyborg (Diana Nucera), A People’s Guide to AI is a comprehensive beginner's guide to understanding AI and other data-driven tech. The guide uses a popular education approach to explore and explain AI-based technologies so that everyone has the chance to think critically about the kinds of futures automated technologies can bring.

Library of Missing Datasets.jpg

The second installment in The Library of Missings Datasets series focuses on black people. Black folks are both over-collected and under-represented in American datasets, featuring strongly as objects of collection but rarely as subjects with agency over collection, ownership, and power. Version 2.0 of The Library of Missing Datasets speaks to this reality.

Us Aggregated - Mimi Onuoha.jpg

The second work in the Us, Aggregated series, Us, Aggregated 2.0 focuses on who has the agency to define who "we" is. Using an image from the artist's personal family archives as its starting place, Us, Aggregated 2.0 presents a frame clustered series of photographs that Google's reverse-image search algorithms have categorized as similar and tagged with the label "girl".

Onuoha on her work:

“I am an eternal hybrid, drawn always to in-between spaces. My work deals with the tensions at the heart of the "Information Age". I am fascinated by how metrified societies require the fluid, organic, messiness of people to be secured, tagged, categorized, and abstracted.

In a world mediated by computers, everything begins to look like data, and that which doesn't fit the mold is at risk of being forgotten. My practice begins with these patterns of absence, which are always real and material and located within people, especially folks of color and folks of queerness and folks who have immigrated and folks who are stuck between categories.

I aim to trouble the assumptions baked into the technologies that mediate our experiences.”

Onuoha’s exhibitions and talks:

My Mother's Maiden Name [exhibition], San Francisco, Root Division, June 2019
System Failure [exhibition], San Francisco, apexart, May 2019
"There Is More Than One We in Web" [writing], Walker Art Center x - March 2019
Olin College of Engineering Creative-In-Reference [residency | teaching], Boston, 2018-19
Open Codes [exhibition], Utrecht, Netherlands - Sep 2018 - April 2019J

arislovsky Fellow[residency], Waterloo Canada, 2019
"AI, Missing Data, and Identity" [talk], Columbia University, New York - March 2019
Cosmopolis #1.5 [exhibition], Mao Jihong Arts Foundation and the Centre Pompidou, Chengdu, Nov 2018 - Jan 2019
The Influencing Machine [exhibition], nGbK, Berlin, Dec 2018 - Jan 2019
A Recounting: Data, Disinformation, & Black Experience [exhibition], Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, Dec 2018 - Jan 2019
New York Tech Zine Fair [co-founder], New York City, Nov 2018
Chicago Humanities Festival [talk], Chicago - Nov 2018
Existência Numérica [exhibition | writing], Rio de Janeiro - Sep-Nov 2018
"Not Everything Can Be Contained" [writing], The Work of Wind: Land - Sep 2018
Gather Festival [talk], Stockholm - Sep 2018
Afrocyberféminisms 5 [talk ] La Gaîté Lyrique, Paris - June 2018
"Collections as Algorithms" [workshop] Pioneer Works, Brooklyn - June 2018
Big Bias - Coded Matter(s) [talk] FIBER, Amsterdam - May 2018
Vision and Technology [panel], International Center for Photography, NYC - May 2018
!!con [keynote], NYC - May 2018
NYU ITP [teaching], NYC - March to May 2018
Refiguring the Future [curation], Chicago - April 2018
"On Algorithmic Violence" [writing], Cause Magazine, Rio de Janeiro - April 2018
"What is Missing is Still There", [writing], Paris - April 2018
Steiner Lecture in Creative Inquiry [talk], Pittsburgh - April 2018
Studio XX Présentation des artistes en résidence [panel], Montreal - March 2018
Afrotectopia [panel], NYC - March 2018
REFEST [exhibition], La MaMa Galleria, NYC - March 2018
"On Art and Technology: The Power of Creating Our Own Worlds" [writing], March 2018
Hard to Read: Lovelace [talk], NYC - March 2018
A Pressing Conference [talk], NYC - January 2018
Afrotech Fest [exhibition], London - January 2018
AI & Inclusion Symposium [talk], Rio de Janeiro - Nov 2017
Cybernetics Conference [talk], NYC - Nov 2017
Bennington College [teaching], Vermont - Sep to Dec 2017
IxDA Awards [jury], Montreal - Oct 2017
An Evening with the Enron Archive [panel], NYC - Oct 2017
Haunted Machines & Wicked Problems [exhibition], Amsterdam - Oct 2017
9to5 [exhibition], Atlanta - Sep 2017
Google DevFest Show [exhibition], Atlanta - Sep 2017
Studio XX Residency [residency], Montreal - July to August 2017
Eyeo Festival 2017 [talk], Minneapolis - June 2017

Onuoha’s writing:

Art books and magazines:

The Work of Wind | June 2018 | Not Everything Can Be Contained
Cause | April 2018 | On Algorithmic Violence
Nichons-Nous Dans L'Internet | April 2018 | What is Missing Is Still There


Quartz | June 2017 | Side-by-side images expose a glitch in Google’s maps
Quartz | May 2017 | You probably are not fully removing your private photos and data before selling your old technology
Quartz | April 2017 | Machine learning is being used to uncover the mass graves of Mexico’s missing
FiveThirtyEight | Jan 2017 | What it truly takes to delete data
Quartz | December 2016 | Broadway won’t document its dramatic race problem, so a group of actors spent five years quietly gathering this data themselves
How We Get To Next | June 2016 | Where We Live and How We Die
How We Get To Next | Feb 2016 | I Tried, and Failed, to Find Out Where My Electricity Comes From

Digital publications:

Knight Foundation | March 2018 | On Art and Technology: The Power of Creating Our Own Worlds
National Geographic | July 2015 | You Are Not Your Data
National Geographic | May 2015 | It Matters Most To You: On Digital Literacy and Data Production
National Geographic | April 2015 | What Maps Really Show

Academic and research:

Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism | Nov 2015 | Guide To Crowdsourcing
Points | Feb 2016 | The Point of Collection
Princeton University | May 2011 | Death on Facebook: Learning to Grieve Online |

Learn more about Mimi Onuoha: