Skip to main content

University of Michigan School of Information


UMSI Professor Eglash featured in Samuel L. Jackson slavery documentary series

Ron Eglash browsing fabrics

Monday, 09/14/2020

Samuel L. Jackson’s new docuseries “Enslaved” features an interview with University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) Professor Ron Eglash. The series, which debuts Monday, September 14 at 10 p.m. on the EPIX television network, explores 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the New World.

Ron Eglash and Simcha Jacobovici
Eglash discussing fractal structure of an ancient Ethiopian church with "Enslaved" director Simcha Jacobovici.

Eglash, who has a joint appointment with U-M’s Penny W. Stamps School Of Art & Design, flew to Ethiopia and Ghana in 2019 to be filmed for the series. His interview is featured in episode 5, where he discusses fractal structures in African design and demonstrates fractal simulation tools in development at UMSI.

According to Eglash, a fractal is a pattern that repeats itself at different scales. It is ideal for modeling nature: a tree is a branch of a branch of a branch; mountains are peaks within peaks; clouds are puffs of puffs, and so on. But modern computer scientists aren't the only ones to use fractals: Africans have been using them for centuries to design textiles, sculptures, architecture, hairstyles and more.

More about Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on EPIX

More about Professor Ron Eglash

For K-12 Educators: let students learn how fractal geometry is used in computing and science, and explore these “heritage algorithms” through simulations of African designs

- Jessica Webster, UMSI PR Specialist