Bronx Rhymes: Redefining Storytelling in a Digital World

Session Title

Bronx Rhymes: Redefining Storytelling in a Digital World


Claudia Bernett

Session Type: Presentation

New forms of media are redefining storytelling. The traditional one-to-many narrative is joined by the collective spinning of stories by communities engaged with each other and with digital media. An important role as interaction designers is to put into place tools and toys that empower audiences to interact in such a way that stories emerge. Bronx Rhymes leverages wild postings and SMS in combination with the web to surface significant pieces of Hip Hop history in the borough. In a nod to Hip Hop itself, the rhyme form shapes the communication from the creators to the public, and among those in the community. The result is a historical collection of short rhymes, and a shared engagement of the Bronx community.

Bronx Rhymes illuminates the history and significance of Hip Hop in the Bronx by tagging important locations for Hip Hop (1520 Sedgwick, for example) with posters. Each poster describes the historical significance of that location in the form of a rhyme, and invites people walking by to join in a rhyming battle by txt-ing their own rhyme from their mobile phone. The website displays the artists and locations along with all the submitted rhymes elevating the most recent submission. Eventually, visitors to the website will be able to rate existing rhymes.


Claudia Bernett is an artist and designer living and working in New York City. Since receiving her MFA from Parsons School of Design in 2000, she has been creating work that operates at the intersection of the digital and physical realms, and explores cognitive responses to human-computer interaction. She currently works as User Experience Designer at Method NY where she leads the interface design of a wide variety of digital tools, toys, and experiences.

Maria Ioveva is an interaction designer and motion graphics artist. Her interest in urban narratives has led her to the creation of “after-images” of the city — animated dreamscapes in which past, present and fantasy intertwine. In her projects she has reimagined classic New York silhouettes such as the Brooklyn water-towers and the abandoned High Line rail line. She received an MFA degree from Parsons School of Design in 2005, and currently works as an Interaction Designer at R/GA for the Nike+ account.

One Comment

  1. Posted September 18, 2009 at 11:53 am

    This sounds great. The rhyme battle continues in the south!