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Zay Smith

My work often meditates on the incompleteness of my own disparate family histories, and attempts to complete and elaborate on these histories. I create imagined spaces that reach across time and lineage, and appropriate the conventions of digital technology to tell stories. The Trouble With Mt. Olive is an interactive fiction piece that tells one such story, and adopts the aesthetic of The Oregon Trail (1985) to do so. Mt. Olive recenters the American Western narrative of the game from white settler colonialists bound for Oregon, in favor of  the descendants of enslaved Africans in Texas discovering their roots. Simultaneously, Mt. Olive adapts the narratives of Black Americans into something aesthetically similar to a video game, resisting the medium’s long history of maligning and stereotyping Black people.

Play The Trouble With Mt. Olive

The Trouble With Mt. Olive, 2020, screen captures of interactive fiction game, 24 in x 16 1/2 in.

Isaiah “Zay” Smith is a creative technologist and digital artist hailing from Amarillo, TX. He is currently pursuing his B.A. in Art Practice at Stanford University, and will graduate in Summer of 2021. His work appropriates technology and optical illusion in order to investigate personal history, identity, and the intersections of technology and the African-American experience. Smith’s work often takes the form of satirical web applications and websites, speculative design objects, and sculptures activated by augmented and mixed reality.


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