Rashin Fahandej is an Iranian-American futurist, immersive storyteller, and cultural activist. Her projects center on marginalized voices and the role of media, technology, and public collaboration in generating emotional connections to drive social change. A proponent of “art as ecosystem,” she defines her projects as “poetic cyber movement for social justice” in which art mobilizes a plethora of voices by creating connections between public places and virtual spaces. As a 2020 lead artist at American Arts Incubator-Austria with ZERO1 and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Fahandej launched Future of Inclusion Lab in partnership with Ars Electronica; an experimental virtual laboratory to incubate ideas and project prototypes that aim for collective and radical imaginations of our social systems, centered on art, emerging technology, and community co-creation.
She is the founder of A Father’s Lullaby, a multifaceted immersive media project that interrogates racial bias and structural racism in the criminal justice system. This co-creation initiative highlights the nurturing role of men in raising children and the negative impacts of their long-term sentencing on children, women, lower-income communities, and society at large. This work was incubated as part of the Boston Mayor’s Office Artist-In-Residence (2017) and a multi-year research fellowship with the MIT Open Documentary Lab. It won the 2021 Prix Ars Electronica Festival Award of Distinction in Digital Musics & Sound Ars (2021) and the Institute of Contemporary Arts’ James and Audrey Foster Prize (2019), Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellowship (2019), and was further supported by residencies and fellowships with ThoughtWorks Arts and Scatter VR Volumetric Filmmaking (2019), Framingham Cultural Council (2019), and Boston Center for the Arts Public Art Residency (2018).
In the Spring of 2020, as Assistant Professor of Emerging and Interactive Media at Emerson College, Fahandej launched a pioneering initiative focused on mass incarceration using the Emerging Technology and Community Co-Creation methodologies. This initiative brings together students from three different departments (Journalism, Visual Media Arts, and the Institute), formerly incarcerated fathers, probation officers, and their children to co-create personal documentary projects that speak to the social challenge of mass incarceration using AR, VR, Volumetric Filmmaking and 360° technology. This initiative includes a long-term collaboration with the Federal Probation Office’s Nurturing Fathers program, materializes immersive storytelling, and explores alternative methodologies of media/documentary production that break away from conventional single authorship and center on access and equity.
While at OpenDocLab, Rashin has worked on various projects including A Father’s Lullaby.