Music

Cyberspace Is the Place? Afrofuturism in the 21st Century

“Planet Earth: sound of guns, anger, frustration. There was no one to talk to up on planet Earth who’d understand, so we set up a colony for black people here. See what they can do on a planet all on their own, without any white people there… Another place in the universe, up under distant stars.”

So muses Sun Ra as he wanders through the imagined landscape of a distant planet in his 1974 film Space Is the Place. The film is perhaps the first thing that might come to mind when you think of Afrofuturism, representing a sort of quintessence of the ideas of a man who essentially created that movement (even if it didn’t get named as such until decades later). It unites the main ideas of Afrofuturism: interrogating the nature of racial oppression and imagining a version of the future where black people and culture are free of such oppression, in Ra’s case by decamping to another planet entirely. Afrofuturist ideals are interesting in that they’re both expressions of utopian futurism and principles deeply grounded in history — the parallels with emancipation are obvious, and the vision of the real world as a place of incessant oppression remains as depressingly true as it was 40 years ago. … Read More

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Antony Hegarty Announces New, “Electronic Album with Sharp Teeth”

Antony Hegarty’s upcoming album — her first since 2010’s Swanlights — will neither appear under the name Antony, Antony Hegarty,… Read More

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“The Shadow State Is Not Really a Shadow State”: How Surveillance Anxiety Is Shaping Pop Culture

Someone is always watching.

For the longest time, that idea underpinned grim visions of a totalitarian future in books and movies, from Nineteen Eighty-Four to The Hunger Games — cautionary tales about the fate awaiting a citizenry that allows itself to be deceived by the people in power.

Then the future arrived, and it turned out those bleak fantasies of an all-seeing surveillance state weren’t so farfetched: in the post-9/11 world, someone really is watching, be it Facebook mapping your life’s history for the sake of advertising dollars, or the National Security Agency keeping tabs on your phone calls and text messages in the name of freedom. … Read More

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