Black Box Labs (est. 2020), an undergraduate laboratory in the Science in Society Program at Wesleyan University that offers students training in qualitative research methods aligned with science and technology studies and the opportunity to collaborate with faculty on research.
Black Box Labs aims to increase research capacity for critical inquiry in science studies and produce creative and rigorous scholarship that meaningfully contributes to a better and more just world, especially for the least among us. Deciphering methods, translating technoscience, and fostering justice. The black box has different valances in science studies, critical race theory, and performance studies. Sometimes, we open and unpack black boxes, paying close attention to the power relationships that constitute them (like Bruno Latour); sometimes we get in them to escape (like Henry “Box” Brown); other times, we close the curtains create with each other in them (in the intimate negative space of the black box theater).
With our moniker as a lab, we are connected to the radical spaces of critical scholars, activists, revolutionaries, and performers around the world who conspire for justice, freedom, and liberation. In hip hop, the lab is where the elements of rhetorical composition, embodied performance and digital recording technology come together in a cipher to create new knowledge. By invoking the language of the cipher, we encode our work into the age of technoscience as it intersects with the rise of neoliberalism and neocolonialism, generating the need for the cypher in hip hop–the gathering of co-creators focused on a common vision.