DADS—the Digital Art Demo Space, a DIY new media space in Bridgeport—is one large room that takes the form of whatever exhibition is being shown. Old TVs playing glitched-out videos are placed on Roman columns. There’s a virtual reality game being played next to a hot tub. That’s right—DADS has a hot tub with an eight-bit style painting of Mt. Fuji behind it. In the far back of the room, past the bar, two more video games are set up on TVs and projectors. All the while, a live DJ curates the mood. As the space approaches its third year, I sat down with Thorne Brandt and Bobbie Carr, two of three organizers that live at DADS, to talk about the challenges and rewards of running their DIY space.
Open Mike Eagle, born and raised in Chicago, moved to Los Angeles after college, and for the most part, he didn’t look back. He joined the hip hop collective Project Blowed, formed the trio Thirsty Fish with Dumbfoundead and Psychosiz, released his first solo album Unapologetic Art Rap in 2010, and has a forthcoming stand-up and music show, The New Negroes, on Comedy Central that he will co-host with comedian Baron Vaughn. But on his most recent album, Brick Body Kids Still Daydream—a hazy, dark, powerful, and sometimes sweet recollection of the Robert Taylor Homes and their demolition, he comes home. The album reimagines the story of the Robert Taylor Homes, imbuing it with equal parts childhood fantasies, fuzzy memories, and the real-world darkness of a city that isolated, ignored, and then forcibly displaced thousands of its most vulnerable residents. This mix is perfectly encapsulated by the video for “Brick Body Complex”: Eagle plays Iron Hood, a superhero trying to warn residents that their building is coming down, fight back against gentrification, and stop the city’s demolition; in the end, at the moment when it seems Iron Hood has stopped the demolition, the cops show up to haul him off to jail.