Mikayla Buford

MIT Department: Media Arts and Sciences
Undergraduates Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Faculty Mentor: Michael Bove
Research Supervisor: Nina Lutz, Aubrey Simonson
Website: Personal, LinkedIn

2019 Research Poster


I’m a rising senior majoring in computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I’m interested in developing technology to garner a more expressive relationship between humans and technology. I want to specifically focus on interaction with technology within the realms of art, social justice, and Afrofuturism. In my free time I enjoy making 8-bit art, curating playlists for my friends, and watching cartoons.

2019 Research Abstract

In Solange Knowles’ 2016 single “Don’t Touch My Hair” she explained the sensitivities of Black women like herself who don’t want people to touch her hair. She believes that people don’t understand the disrespect and violation of personal space this action indicates. Solange was not the beginning of this movement calling for respect for Black women and their bodies. Black feminist figures such as Toni Morrison and bell hooks have written extensive literature on the mistreatment of Black female bodies, and forms of media from children’s books to mobile games like “Hair Nah” have brought awareness to the issue of touching a Black woman’s hair without consent. Despite this, a physically interactive experience addressing this issue hasn’t been explored. (Don’t) Touch My Hair is an interactive sculpture of a Black woman with an Afro. The interaction storyline will teach users how to ask for consent to touch her hair and how to be respectful of her response, whether it’s a yes or a no. This work will help teach users how to respectfully explore their curiosity of Black hair while appreciating the history of Black females who have championed against regulation of Black female bodies. More broadly, this project expands the conversation of consent in the context of personal space and physical intimacy to include the intersection of identity and hair.