For Black History Month this year, TechSPARK has teamed up with B in Bath to shine a light on some of the established and emerging Black tech and digital leaders in our community. First up it’s artist, founder and researcher Tracey Bowen.
Artist, Founder, Researcher.
Creating solutions to injustice and to further knowledge and autonomy amongst global citizens.
Your path into the sector?
I have a degree in music tech however I only started delving deep into tech when I started researching blockchain technology and now I am able to combine my artistic background with my new tech knowledge in research and enterprise.
What interests you about tech/digital? What do you like about working in the sector?
I get to be my own boss! I have greater autonomy than I did whenever working in the music industry.
It’s also more fast-paced and I can address real-world problems more effectively than with just music I feel.
Of course, all disciplines can be combined to produce effective solutions and responses. This is what I am more interested in at the moment.
Futurism 3.0 was the most challenging project I’ve completed as I was producing, writing and performing, so as you can imagine it was a lot! It was an incredibly exciting project and developing drones for live performance was particularly interesting. Researching alternative ways for immersive sound and voice was super satisfying also.
I am developing a broader practice now, which includes research into data, AI and racial justice. The response has been entrepreneurial with creating a data economy startup, and also art based with creating moving image and interactive pieces to convey the current state of AI and its solutions.
I’d like to keep developing in this direction as the work is super important for building an equitable future for all.
Do you have any thoughts on diversity in the tech/digital industries?
Firstly the pool and the methods which tech industries find their appointees from needs to be changed. Your social network is one of your greatest assets, however, if you are not already in those circles your access to opportunities are limited.
For example, when I was coming up with the idea for Futurism 3.0 which included creative technology and Afro futurism – I didn’t really know where to go. I was pleasantly surprised to find out Bristol had a creative tech space called the Pervasive Media studio. That got me thinking: how many other people like me (black, female, marginalised… ) didn’t have knowledge or access to a community resource which had been there for years.
The studio is stepping up to address issues of inclusion, as is the South West Creative Technology Network and others, however, is hiring an inclusion officer or adding an anti-racist working group enough?
We still have to get into the marginalised communities and make them aware of the routes to these services.
My ideal in this current situation would be to provide Black-led tech spaces – because if we want the future to look like us: we have to build it!
Renée Jacobs is a Project Manager at Actual Experience and the Founder of B in Bath. She is passionate about empowering and supporting people from underrepresented backgrounds in the workplace, and she recognises the importance of ensuring diversity of thought and experience in those people who create the technology that permeates all of our lives. Through B in Bath she hopes to enable employers and employees to cultivate a sense of belonging in the workplace; creating an environment where everyone, from all backgrounds, can grow, thrive and belong.