New Media

  • Seabreeze Bop City
    The School of Architecture

Choul Luok, Hannah Romell, and Payton Bergkamp, “Returning to Seabreeze,” 2022. Film still. Courtesy the filmmakers

Seabreeze Bop City is a real-time 3-D spatial storytelling project in Seabreeze, NC, a remarkable Jim Crow era Black-owned beach community with a rich but disappearing history characterized by Black land loss, hurricane destruction, and sea-level rise. Between the 1920s–60s, Seabreeze was a dynamic incubator of African American music and culture. However, after segregation ended, and a sequence of human-made and natural coastal disasters, Seabreeze faded as a resort community. Seabreeze Bop City is revealed online, through a virtual reality (VR) enabled website and on-site, through an augmented reality mobile application. The narrative is coauthored with the community, weaving together archival and contemporary documentary material. Stories of resilience in the face of historic injustice, land use challenges and climate change unfold over a digital reconstruction of the Seabreeze landscape. The project is an immersive spatial archive containing the sights, sounds, and stories of Seabreeze explored by moving through a rich and interactive 3-D environment offering strategies and speculations for preferable futures.

Kwakiutl L. Dreher grew up in Columbia, SC, going to the beaches around Seabreeze, NC as a kid. She is a storyteller that works across many different mediums including film, animation, and VR. Dreher writes about African American literature, film, visual, and popular culture. She is the author of Dancing on the White Page: Black Women Entertainers Writing Autobiography (SUNY Press, 2008) and numerous articles and essays. Dreher wrote and acted in Anna (2018). She has also played Mamie Till in Anne & Emmett; Mrs. Harriet Gottlieb in Dead Man's Cellphone; and Louise in the film The Eyes of Isabelle. Her one-woman show, In A Smoke-Filled Room, Color Matters, was a play lab selection at the Great Plains Theater Festival in 2013 after its theatrical debut at The Haymarket Theater in Lincoln, Nebraska. Dreher is an associate professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Nebraska.

Franchon Francees is the community organizer and representative of the Freeman family at Seabreeze NC, which was founded by Alexander and Charity Freeman in 1855. Francees is a licensed clinical mental health counselor, and a certified trauma practitioner and trainer. She founded Healing Your Almond, a Wilmington, NC-based consulting group in 2019, utilizing her expertise in both trauma and emotional intelligence to help companies address employee stress and team efficiency.

Chris Lasch is a teacher, practitioner, and researcher dedicated to experimental architecture and design. In 2003, Lasch cofounded Aranda\Lasch, a Tucson and New York City-based practice that designs buildings, furniture, environments, and objects through a deep investigation of structure and materials. Recognition includes the United States Artists Award, Young Architects Award, Design Vanguard Award, AD Innovators, and the Architectural League Emerging Voices Award. Their work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. Lasch is based in Tucson, Arizona, and is currently president of the School of Architecture, founded by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ash Smith is an artist-researcher who uses storytelling, worldbuilding, and speculative design to shape new realities. With performance as both an object and lens, Smith works across art and science, between fact and fiction, and with human and non-human agents to reimagine past and future technologies, systems, and rural-urban ecologies. She is an assistant professor of emerging media arts at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Smith grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and has worked as a producer, director, performer, and writer for various studios and media platforms. Her research lab within the Carson Center of Emerging Media Arts: Southern Devices Lab, uses design fiction and narrative to solve problems, re-imagine systems, and build worlds.

Robert Wynn is the founder and director of Land Rich, a North Carolina-based nonprofit. Land Rich’s mission is to educate and organize low-wealth landowners regarding rights and opportunities relating to their real estate assets and to assist landowners and communities in establishing sustainable plans for optimizing the natural, historical, and economic value of their real estate assets. For twenty years, Wynn has built project teams that share the common mission of empowering disenfranchised communities and reversing the trend of black land loss. Through the bringing together of educational resources, legal and mediation support, land use planning, and real estate development, Wynn has been helping African American families and communities deal with the complexities of heirs' property issues and access the unrealized potential of their historic properties. Wynn is a close advisor to the project and a liaison to the Freeman family and Seabreeze Community.

Building on Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs and thoughts, The School of Architecture is a graduate program in architecture that teaches and practices learning by doing, new ways of looking, an ability to honor and build with the landscape, and experimentation. We learn how to serve our diverse communities by making our environment more sustainable, open to all, and beautiful.