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A.M. Darke

A.M. Darke

American, born 1986

A.M. Darke (he/him/his/she/her/hers) designs radical tools for social intervention. Her practice is polemical and interdisciplinary, integrating game design, performance, media art, and activism. Darke is Assistant Professor of Digital Arts and New Media, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, and Art & Design: Games & Playable Media at UC Santa Cruz, where he also directs The Other Lab, an intersectional feminist research space.

See more of Darke's work at her website: prettydarke.cool.

Installation view of Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (Albright-Knox Northland, October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022). Art © AM Darke. Photo: Tina Rivers Ryan for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. 

Installation view of Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (Albright-Knox Northland, October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022). Art © AM Darke. Photo: Tina Rivers Ryan for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. 

Members’ and Neighbors’ Celebration for Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022), October 16, 2021. Art © AM Darke. Photo: Jeff Mace for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.

Installation view of Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (Albright-Knox Northland, October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022). Art © AM Darke (left), Morehshin Allahyari (right). Photo: Tina Rivers Ryan for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. 

Installation view of Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (Albright-Knox Northland, October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022). Art © AM Darke (far left). Photo: Tina Rivers Ryan for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.

‘Ye or Nay?, 2020

Online game for two players displayed on computers; wallpaper; and two framed printed portraits
Courtesy of the artist

“Blackness contains multitudes; not just between individuals, but even within the same person. Kanye is such an interesting figure to me because his suffering is transparent. I feel like he’s been unable to resolve the cognitive dissonance between his individual privilege and Black folks’ structural oppression…”
—A.M. Darke

A.M. Darke (he/him/his/she/her/hers) modeled this online game after the classic board game “Guess Who?” In both, players take turns trying to guess the other player’s character by asking questions about their identity and appearance, such as, “Is it a man?” or “Are they wearing a hat?” In Darke’s game, however, all of the characters are Black male celebrities, and many are Kanye West at various stages of his career, as indicated by the pun in the work’s title.

As a fan of West, Darke is fascinated by the transformation of his persona from genius Black activist to troubled Black capitalist. Confronting West’s multiple identities alongside those of other successful Black men in this game may prompt us to consider how Black masculinity is defined today, as well as how it differs from Black femininity. While playful on its surface, the game also puts us in the position of describing, categorizing, and “eliminating” Black characters, in a way that parallels how databases and algorithms identify, track, and discriminate against Black people and other marginalized groups.

This game is also freely available for you to experience on your own devices by visiting yeornay.cool.

The Albright-Knox thanks Meibohm Fine Arts for their contribution of frames for this installation.

'Ye or Nay?

A.M. Darke modeled this online game after the classic board game “Guess Who?” In both, players take turns trying to guess the other player’s character by asking questions about their identity and appearance, such as “Is it a man?” or “Are they wearing a hat?” In Darke’s game, however, all of the characters are Black male celebrities, and many are Kanye West at various stages of his career, as indicated by the pun in the work’s title.

Play the game.

IndieCade: Anywhere and Everywhere—'Ye or Nay

A.M. Darke feat. Tajaé Keith, Nick Yonge, and Seren Sensei

Watch a playthrough of 'Ye or Nay? with commentary by A.M. Darke.

Open Source Afro Hair Library

The Open Source Afro Hair Library (OSAHL) is a feminist, anti-racist database for 3D models of Black hair textures and styles curated by Darke.

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