3

Finally gotten round to showing these pieces on Tumblr.

These 3 pieces I’ve done for the recent Leicester Illustrators’ Group’s exhibit GHOSTS featuring artists - Drew Askew, Louise Dawson, - Louise Deri, Michelle Last, Rachael Smith, Richard Scott, Verity Simpson and myself.

If you’re about in Leicester this weekend then pop upstairs in the Crumblin’ Cookie to see our work.

African-Americans are, in a very real sense, the descendants of alien abductees. They inhabit a sci-fi nightmare in which unseen but no less impassable force fields of intolerance frustrate their movements; official histories undo what has been done to them; and technology, be it branding, forced sterilization, the Tuskegee experiment, or tasers, is too often brought to bear on black bodies.
—  Mark Dery, Black to the Future
African Americans, in a very real sense, are the descendants of alien abductees; they inhabit a sci-fi nightmare in which unseen but no less impassable force fields of intolerance frustrate their movements; official histories undo what has been done; and technology is too often brought to bear on black bodies (branding, forced sterilization, the Tuskegee experiment, and tasers come readily to mind)
—  Mark Dery, 1993

The term “Afrofuturism” is normally attributed to Mark Dery, coined in an interview with Samuel Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose that appeared in South Atlantic Quarterly in 1993, but even without this term to hand, Mark Sinker was outlining a specifically black sf in the pages of The Wire the year before. To many readers of SFS, Sinker’s pantheon of black sf—which included Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler, as well as Sun Ra, Public Enemy, John Coltrane, Anthony Braxton, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Jimi Hendrix, Afrika Bambaataa, Ishmael Reed, and Earth Wind and Fire—might not sound much like the sf we know. But sf is “a point of cultural departure” for all of these writers and musicians, because “it allows for a series of worst-case futures—of hells-on-Earth and being in them—which are woven into every kind of everyday present reality” (“Loving the Alien”). The “central fact” of the black sf they produce “is an acknowledgement that Apocalypse already happened,” that, in Public Enemy’s words, “Armageddon been in effect.”

Taking in contemporary music and sf, Sinker positions hip-hop in “the grand syncretic tradition of bebop, not ashamed to acknowledge that technological means and initial building material are always simply what falls to hand: but that meaning is nonetheless a matter of energetic and visionary redeployment, not who first owned or made this or that fragment” (“Loving the Alien”). Although cyberpunk has typically been discussed in terms of European avant-garde detournement or Burroughsian cut-up, its parallels and affinities with bebop and hip-hop3 have generally gone unacknowledged. Sinker does more than merely point to this omission, however. Just as Thomas Foster argues that cyberpunk “didn’t so much die as experience a sea change into a more generalized cultural formation” (xiv), so Sinker suggests that the black, urban, proletarian experience central to the development of these musical forms speaks directly to the experience of the global underclass created by the intertwined logics of capital, Empire, and race: more-or-less concomitant with the growth of hip-hop, cyberpunk, the “radical leading edge” of “white SF,” was “arguing that the planet, already turned Black, must embrace rather than resist this [relationship to technology]: that … only ways of technological interaction inherited from the jazz and now the rap avant garde can reintegrate humanity with the runaway machine age.”

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