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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Afrofuturism: The Last Angel of History

You may be wondering why i’m starting this post off with Mothership Connection. as you read on, you’ll understand, also why not listen to something smooth while you read!

to start off, Afrofuturism is in the most basic form, science fiction that focuses attention to ethnic themes and scenarios. there are few authors who center questions of race, history, and the recovery of lost African-American history in their work. those being Alondra Nelson, Greg Tate and Octavia Butler. However, the example that i’ll be looking at is film director John Akomfrah.

Akomfrah has displayed a strong element of Afrofuturism in many of his works, but today, we took a look at his 1996 film “The Last Angel of History” Which is more a documentary to say the least.

Towards the end of the trailer, there was a mention of George Clinton’s 1974 album “Mothership Connection”  which turned out to be a heavy influence in the idea formation and making of the film.

Clinton is actually interviewed as part of this trailer and he mentions that during the “Blue” era of music, “black” became a commercial thing, continuing  to say that other music genres got pushed to the side during the early 70’s. and lets be honest here, he’s right. Who doesn’t like Black music? and No, not rap, I mean jazz and Blues.

Akomfrah used this to create a metaphor for what is “Alien” and what we perceive to be alien.

when I say the term Alien, what comes to mind? Those weird-Humanoid figures with the big eyes?

sorry to ruin your childhood, but no. That is not an Alien. However,  that is a representation of what an alien could be (and a popular one at that). the definition of an Alien is a form or species of life that we are not familiar with. something that we do not know of or understand how they work.

As humans, we have a history of fearing what we do not understand which leads us to disregarding/rejecting what we fear or trying to control what we fear.

a few hundred years ago, ethnic races deemed each other as “Aliens”, hence Slavery, and that’s where Akomfrah’s metaphor of Alien makes sense.

alien abduction  where aliens take you from your home planet to other planets? the ancestors of Afro-Americans and Caribbeans have experienced that already!

Aliens Genetically modifying their subjects? for one, many slaves were taken from a hot climate and had to adapt to their new surroundings, not to mention that some slavers uses their personal slaves as sexual objects. (both men and women).

the list can can go on but I believe that Akomfrah creates a solid statement by suggesting it has already happened. We don’t see it because it’s not “alien” to us any more. but remember what and alien is. something you don’t know or understand.

finishing on a more.. positive note, the film was based an George Clinton’s theme of Space-Funk which Clinton Continues to uses in his music my favorite being “One Nation Under A Groove”. Funny thing is I got a Chance to meet Clinton last year at the Southbank center with the performance group Kinetika Bloco. If only i knew i was studying the topic of Afrofuturism, i would have asked him about this..

 

Before you say anything, Yes, I am in the video. If you look hard enough. where’s Wally, or in this case, Wheres Thorpe?

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Posted by on November 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Unknown Fields: All Up In My Grill

Unknown Fields turned a simple road trip turned into a ambitious project from what they displayed in the exhibition. Two pieces were presented along with a number of video logs describing what the creations were, what they are used for, how effective they will be at what they will do and most importantly, how they were created. The process for me is the big selling point, documenting not only the journey to the present, but the possible future.

before we take a look at what Unknown Fields created, first I take a look at the videos that recorded these events. The video clips for me made the exhibition since they played a part in supporting the main pieces greatly. The pieces on display were given a sense of purpose that was built around the experiences of the creators and how this came about. Not many curators and exhibitors display their journeys from scratch in their showing. And for fair reason. However, the curator’s having their process contributes positively to the exhibition over all.

If they didn’t show what they’ve done, or more importantly, where they’ve been, the exhibition as a whole would have suffered otherwise.

I was also very interested in the editing of the videos. Filming in rural areas but the editing seems to be very calculated, as if they planned every shot and scene. Elements of this filming technique are identifiable throughout the videos which help strengthen the overall screening of the presentations.

In terms of the space, they did the best they could with such a small space. . Lucky enough, I had the space all to myself when I visited. At first, I thought that they could of done with a bigger space. However, upon reflection, I now feel that a small space is what Unknown fields needed. This is mainly due to the canvas work mainly.

The 1st piece was a gemstone placed inside a gold tooth which according to unknown fields “sets up someone for that million-dollar smile”.
Specifics on details as to how they created this are down below.

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The second piece seems to be a ECO-friendly, resourceful battery. Lets be honest here, the golden tooth straight from the get-go, sounds much more interesting I believe.
The pieces were followed up by a group of canvas prints which were the locations that unknown fields visited to form their initial pieces.

The description of “All up in my Grill” (Golden Tooth) explains it all in terms of how this idea came about. To be honest, there’s not much more to be said really. I found it to be a pleasant experience, taking into consideration that I went to this exhibition completely blind. Not knowing who or what Unknown fields are, what this exhibition was about and not doing any external research about this project whatsoever. Id say that for the first time seeing unknown fields at work, this exhibition doesn’t show me what their about in terms of who they are. It shows me the capabilities of this creative group, don’t get me wrong, but no more then that. But like I said before, its my first time seeing Unknown fields, lets see what they have in store in the future to come.

 

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2016 in Uncategorized