Wooo Chile

Cierra King
Cierra King
Cierra King is a multidisciplinary artist located in Brooklyn, NY. Her work is inspired by postmodernism, counter culture art, and cultural experiences. In her free time she loves experimenting with audio, using tools like Ableton, midi controllers and synthesizers. Her favorite animals are lizards and frogs, and she hopes to one day own a farm on an island.
Thesis Faculty
Melanie Crean
Ayo Okunseinde

The consumption of African American Vernacular English, has led to the language being misused and misrepresented in the mass market. This has led to the exploitation of the language and its creators. Because of this “Black Talk” is now considered popular slang that everyone can use, which had lead to incorrect misinterpretations of the language, changing valuable cultural definitions given to words.

“Wooo Chile” considers how Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence, can be used to aid linguistic and cultural preservation of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). This work engages with a chatbot system that is being trained in AAVE. It also uses community activations to engage people to come together to see how their experiences are similar through their usage and understanding of AAVE, while finding solutions on how to preserve this language.

When making this work I asked myself: "How do I preserve language?", "What is cultural preservation?", "How do I protect people, and their data?", "What tools are needed to dismantle wrongful consumption?", "How do I preserve a language, outside of oral speaking and formal writing?", and "How do African Americans interact with African American Vernacular English?"

The project is composed of two parts: Estelle(chat bot) + Wooo Chile Workshop

Estelle is my great grandmother. Who grew up in Alabama and started a life of her own in the North. She was a daughter of sharecroppers, who later became a maid. She is a homemaker, and a christian women who knows how to bake a cake.

I put Estelle into a chatbot, in order to preserve her native tongue (African American Vernacular English). She is able to understand AAVE, and also speak it back to the user. She was made with AI, using the GPT-2 Model.

Disclaimer: Estelle is text only, the narration is only for video purposes
Narration is done by Carol Wright (Estelle's Oldest Daughter)

“Wooo Chile” Workshop features a curriculum that is grounded in cultivating fellowship with others, that have interest in preserving their family history.

While also finding solutions to ensure that their history will live beyond them, and their clan(family).
Participants come to learn about the benefits of teaching machine learning technology about their culture, as a method of preservation.

The audience also become acquainted with Estelle, whose sole purpose is to learn African American Vernacular English in order to preserve the language of Black folks correctly.

Workshop Participants Insights:

“I don’t know a lot about this things, but I do know that being able to talk to a robot that may understand some of things I say would be cool, siri isn’t always there.”

“Maybe we can have our own family robot, that we only teach Keeby history too, that way their will always be a living Keeby”

“Even though I couldn’t contextualize the sentences, something about them felt familiar”