Virtual Harlem

Bryan Carter, Associate Professor of Africana Studies

It’s a time machine and a learning environment. Virtual Harlem transports its users to Harlem, NY as it existed during the 1920s Jazz Age. This project is two decades in the making, originally conceived while Professor Carter was completing his doctoral studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia (UCM) in 1996. This project is one of the earliest full virtual reality environments created for use in the humanities and certainly one of the first for use in an African American literature course.

The Confluencenter grant enabled Dr. Carter and his team – Lead Project Director Robert Johnson and Steve Eiselen, Visualization Specialist/AZ-LIVE, UITS Research Computing – to bring the project to an advanced beta stage. They created an accurate street grid of 125th Street, placed new and existing VR assets on that grid, and made the environment available on the PC and through a developer's version of Oculus Rift, a wearable head mounted display. The project was presented at Confluencenter’s Research Showcase in April 2016, at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne, at the Language Literature and Linguistics conference in Singapore, May 2016, at the Digital Humanities Conference in Krakow, Poland in July 2016 and featured at Mellon and NEH sponsored Digital Humanities workshops in June and July, 2016. Two NEH grant proposals were submitted based on this project in September and December 2015.

See a demo of the interior of the Cotton Club in this Vimeo video, and experience a 360 degree navigation of the project in this YouTube video

Media coverage:

01.30.16: Time Machine Arizona Alumni Magazine

08.15.15: Virtually Visiting the Harlem Renaissance Hyperallergic

06.22.15: Virtual Harlem Future of Storytelling

06.17.15: The Man Who Rebuilt 1920s Harlem in Virtual Reality The Atlantic

04.20.15: Bryan Carter Enables Students to Inhabit History The Chronicle of Higher Education