Saturday, March 29, 2014

afrofuturism is part of us

The future starts young and if life's labyrinth doesn't kill the vision you might still have that urge to design it. I discovered a red velvet bag in the attic of an old house my family rented. It was filled with Tinker Toys. Later the Erector Set was so much fun. We had a tarp to cover the dinning roon table so to not disturb the puzzle in progress. My dad's basement work bench was where we made yo-yos, kites and bikes from swapped parts. Model cars and slot cars out the box had to be "customized". Many of us learned to be makers.

My folks bought me huge drawing paper and pencils. I didn't know what to draw. Unlike my cousins who rolled butcher paper down the hall and drew battle scenes and airplane dog fights, tanks. In high school I ran into dudes drawing cars and superheroes. Me, I drew houses. Modern houses with huge expanses of windows, overhanging forms and.........silverware, plates. I drew things I saw everyday, lamps, sofas. What if I designed a room for this future house.

So far I've seen fashions and personal accessories in the Afrofuture muse, face makeup, hairdos and hats, attitudes and guises and disguises. Afrofuturism is not easy to define cause it is so expansive and back in the corner of our mind at the same time. When you nail it down it becomes trendy, sort of like Mid-century Modern design. Who didn't want the Jetsons to be real and transform our home and car to the future. Every new car we got had to be closer to that future. The stuff of dreams. We are more than in the future compared to when we were kids, we just can't see it.

I didn't hit on music this time because music drives culture and is the signature of culture. It is the sonic construct allows you to move in your memories and in your emotions, between contexts. Music re-enforces cultural feelings, created an "air" or is a cultural container. Soul music, the polka, country western, jazz, classical. But it is not material culture, like architecture. Architecture doesn't change like car styles, which is why Afrofuturism is more transitory, mystical, ethereal, a muse.

How do you transform the present world into that dream place that draws us. Is it a mental thing? Like when the music changes key and your soul swells with euphoria for a moment? A piece of artwork is so compelling it changes your perspective in thinking or your appreciation? Maybe Afrofuturism is like that. I'm promoting Afrofuturism because we've all had the regular "futurism" and it didn't really picture us Black folk in it. So this is futurism from our perspective. I think it an interesting dynamic because it is not new to us. We have been waiting for the sweet by and by for centuries, wondering what it look like.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

afrofuturism shouldn't be a trend

You know things come and things go and come and go. Somethings have short cycles, some long. Clothes in your closet may one day be back in style, can't say the same thing for my waist line. Trends, fashions, we have been bombarded with over the last 50 years has driven us mad. I think it has been a grooming experience by the commercial marketplace to make us dissatisfied as soon as we have acquired a product to want the next iteration. How we hunger for this is ever maddening. When will we get to the future?

You ask the question, now how do you see yourself in that future? Do you ride the present fashion or take a rebellious tangent or a particular spin-off or are stuck in the time that seems right? There is the interior yearning and the outer reality happening at the same. I believe economics and material culture may have the major say in this. I believe this is why what I've seen of Afrofuturism on the internet is limited to literature, video media, games, clothes, personal accessories and lots and lots of music. Why? It is very hard to change the world, easier to change your appearence, even easier to change your mind.

I am not surprised that a more futuristic material culture has not developed. Seems there is a chicken-n-egg equation going on. Black folk work hard, get money, engage in social/family values and boom the out of this world vision gets neutralized to a down to earth reality. Heck why invent when you can buy off the shelf. Dag man I sure wish I could find stuff designed a little more modern where I can afford it. I marvel at so many big screen TVs in homes. The entertainment on them takes over your visualizing mechanism, soon you can't imagine missing the next game, game show, talk show, etc. I said you can't imagine, that is the point. Why imagine when the machine will do it for you?

I appreciate the ability to record or download content for my own use. It is a hassle but it is so cool. You might get anxiety for not watching mass media TV, but you won't be as subject to the subtle mass brainwashing. Oh, we are not being brainwashed, hey remember fashions and trends. The new spring fashions you must have to be cool in your circles. The wants and needs are often sparked in you via the TV to keep commerce cruising. How is your holiday shopping by the way?

What does the future look like anyway? That's the point and the answer is I don't know, I haven't designed it yet! Black folks do need to look at themselves in a better light. For instance what and how do we eat? Raising food, eating food, the implements, the family and social. Now futurize that! See a lot more progress than just jam'n in tinfoil at a laser show. What our kitchen look like, our home, our hood, our city, our country????????? Not just the appearance knowledge of it, reality.

Monday, March 24, 2014

afro talk future unfolded

Of course I dabble in many things. One thing I noticed among the Afrofuturist is the importance of costume. Does clothes make the man or ma'am? Yes, because every book is judged by the cover, regardless, the contents require a second deeper judgement. The first judgement requires intuition, the 2nd, careful examination. Now is the cover a cover or the inner come out?

My last post said to invent a character for yourself. Actually the thing is we are already living day to day in a constructed persona. One that has been taught to us via school, media and surrounding environment. Who are we really?

The costume, the mask, the gadgets allow the inner persona to slip past and come out and exercise in the open. I'm nuts, then how about you sports fans who wear sports clothes everywhere because you love the game, hmmm? No excuses now, you are caught in the very act. How about you Gothic folks, dark eyed and such. Business people, ha? Criminals disguise so that their real nature can function openly, then back to their marginally acceptable self. The power of uniforms. What do you wear for the future?

Now we come to the most repressed people in the world, those waiting for the future to come. Some only see a apocalyptic return to middle age concepts and you have to realize, they return to their roots. They control the media, that is where they are from, those are the concepts they return to. When it comes to Afrofutures, we have been cut off from our history. But with this modern age we are recovering pieces and are making the similar jump to light-speed. Oh my, the universe looks quite different from this perspective.

Examine if you will each genre of art you are familiar with and trace the flow of influences and the peoples who administered them, the times, the ones involved. Sure people have crossed over, blended, but those are not the main vein. They put a mask on a mask to mask the mask that's masking the mask. Take off the masks of others put on one of your own. Such madness is necessary to bend the world we live in, to change the perspective, to get a different light. For me I ask can I improve it on many levels? Still finding my mask, the one with eyes that see differently and a perspective I can live with. Ah, comfort in my own skin.

I said I think about my ancestors a lot, my wife was offended because ancestor worship is not a Christian thing to do. Then she said she missed her parents and grandma. I said nothing back, just laughed at her. I had said the same thing only the connotation of the words I used messed her up. We live with a lot of word war. Wrong neighborhood, I always say to her.

From all these considerations, my art is changing. You might see something to change your perspective, job is done.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

more afrofuturism discovery

Not everybody gets a high tech education or are immersted in the full range of history and culture. BUT, if you look at all your experiences I bet you can see a pattern that will propel you into the future. The real question is always by what means.

I did work as an electrical drafter at a NASA facility. While not a designer or engineer, to work with them and be in an active outer space company does expansive things to your imagination. Physically, the material culture of space is painfully practical because the environment is hostile to the comparably fragile human life. Just like at home in the hood. I think where I've lived was never as bad as the ghettos seen on TV. I think that is a mind whack to keep us from actuating our potential.

Change your perspective, that is the afrofuturism movement. The best of our history, people and cultural heritage is at our disposal to be utilized to springboard past the old stigmas, stereotypes, and paths designed for us. Plus we  will be able to examine present values and arbitrate between all the scales of values we hold today. We have  the stability of our history as a base, the adjustable future projection and the flexible present. I like sci-fi as a context or motif because it can be mundane or spiritual or  high tech or otherworldly and not have to be apocalyptic,  god I hate apocalyptic. Some media tracts constantly send mind messages of our demise. The best way to design your own reality is to turn down or off the present media. Use it sparingly, wisely. That takes care of images, next is language. The common language needs to change and still provide a bridge to what we use now.

Now design a literary character for yourself, an alter ego, merge it with your self, then weed out negative old traits, practice. Oh yeah, you can't do this by yourself. We need interaction, wherevever afrofuturist converge. I recommend Lorain Ohio because the city is small and managable and poor. The influx of new thinking and new speaking will initiate a fundamental change in the chemistry of the city. People come and go all the time, Lorain is always a space port and a culture portal, it is the minds that are asleep. Need glue and do people, risk people, catalyst people.

Squatter artist have come, good artists but no vision of community with the community that's here. They come with their art products and don't find a market, move on, heart and mind. We have to fix the future of the city while fixing our own selves. I think afrofuturism adds the leverage to do change, consider positive alternatives, because the lens, the persprctive is changed.

just discovered afrofuturism, been there all along

Don't know where it all started, you make choices and find your self off planet.

Always was a tinkerer, had to have stuff to mess with. Folks bought me art supplies, didn't know what to draw. Listened to all kinds of music, read comic books, hotrod mags and my brother's under the bed mags. Got really turned onto jazz in college under the tutelage of pot. When I moved past the vaporware, jazz was still there.

I liked Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, the whole spiritual jazz scene. I thought Miles Davis was into voodoo or sorcery and Wayne Shorter a tour guide to very cool places. Now there was Eddie Harris and his electric sax. His use of the Echoplex, chorusing and multi-octives was otherworldly. I imagined myself as the Silver Surfer, riding a board through space, playing a sax. I really had the cosmic urge. He growled, chirpped, whistled,  playing the horn and the electronic labyrinth. He was always funky in space, though he was trying to be funky on earth. He doesn't get mentioned like Sun Ra or George Clinton in the Afrofuturism, I am guessing because Eddie is identified with pop-jazz and didn't have a theatrical persona. I thought his comedy sucked. I would have wrapped myself in tinfoil and shot sparks from a Tesla coil. Eddie Harris was multilayered,  exploring multiple avenues of jazz. He could do blues, ballads, pop and Coltrane with or without the electronics. So Eddie Harris is high on my Afrofuturism meter.

I also don't have a theatrical persona so to speak but, I think one is forming. I think it would be a great asset to have an alter ego with the ability to use a different criteria to live by. Yeah, psychological problems and possibilities abound but often negative casualties are quoted. What if both the ego and the alter ego were not a divergent split but a selectable parallel unity of mind, based on context? It would possible to switch to the more positive tract once all your connections understand your resolve and the folly of linking you with a tragic past. I think Afrofuturism allows for this. Good bad or ugly, we can work this Black thing out via our own minds. The channel is open.

Monday, March 17, 2014

attention all afrofuturist from UGR Station 100

Attention all afrofuturist I request a convergence to station 100. Station 100 is a jump off point on the underground railroad. It is a culturally repressed place at present, an economic bleak hole at present. Heavy hardwares were made here in the past, terra-formers, land and sea transports, a volcanic metal processor still operates here.

The residue of humans here are out of tune, their horizonal assessment transponders have been damaged, vertical alignment regulators are over compensating also, so they lean. Even the schools are teaching how to live with trans-visional impairment. Art here is pointless, leads to nowhere, says nothing important. Over attention to individuals who while skilled and talented do not express a collective vision beyond the commonplace and very little afro-art.

We have asked the artist to come out of the shadows, they are reluctant, citing economic isolation. I know the real problem is vibrational, there is lots of negative buzzing.

I purpose that the afrofuturist would come and recalibrate and resync, then raise the vibes. Many young people read the chronicles, they think we are old school in our efforts, only the afrofuture embraces us all in the altered context that propels us into..................what ever we create.

We have colleges but the bros & sistos won't get out the gated community and come to the outposts. Something about intellectual peers, what the heck is the difference between the yellow submarine and deep space nine.

We have a corridor, many vacant spaces, a few active spots. We are 737 Gallery, Lorain Art Council's Art Center. A community org working to get the arts going here to transform the town. I am interested in Afrofuturism, been listening to John Coltrane and Sun Ra for a time. My own work is small digital art and multimedia. It is primitive, folk afrofuturism if I say so, I dabble. I want to transform living spaces, put afrofuturistic stuff in homes where they live.

The stakes and risks here are very high, you need to be an alter-native to live here. Look past what you see, be afrofuturistic. Transform reality here, please.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

the show digital

The first of many I hope, at the Gallery 737 of the Lorain Arts Council, a digital art show. My big guess is folks who do digital graphics usually don't think of displaying their work in a gallery. They will do work for publications and for the video media but printed and framed, naaaaah!

Me, I like to think some might like to display their talents to a different venue, after all, an art gallery show can be themed, like sci-fi, afro-futurist, etc.

I have teamed with a photographer, why, because his students can expand their knowledge of digital photo post-processing. Photography is pretty much a digital art but, it is used in the traditional way. The question to ask is how far will they go in experimentation with filters and manipulation?  I hope they break some rules.

The most encouraging thing is a 7 year old artist is submitting her digital work to our show. Now hold your elevated horses, we are an open community arts space, our aim is to promote and encourage all the arts from newbie or young to pro and old. By the way, this young one has produced more art works than myself. She deserves a shot at displaying. I am sure if we gather at the reception, there will be tips and inspiration to help her grow.

The two things all digital artist have in common, the video display and the printer. We only have one video monitor but we do have a projector. I will have to explore some stuff later, right now I have a video slide show. I should have called for animation work also. Printers are usually desktop, but larger commercial printers via a service can be used. If the picture is good quality, composition, story, color, etc, then possibly is good enough to sell, if that is what you want.
Well that's the news for now, have to put a poster together.

Monday, March 03, 2014

sliding with stylus

As you know of late I have been thoughly caught by digital tablets and the ability of tablet software to do powerful stuff. I'm speaking of tablets as a creative tool. Look down the road and you can see the wood framed slate and  chunk of charcoal or chalk, oops, the other direction. You can see the same tablet being used for teaching children elementry concepts, being used for advance math and 3D graphics.

How is that possible? The software. You only got so much hardware (a little more than one chip) and so much software. Yet the software is stretching what that hardware can display. I lug around my big laptop because of the graphics it can do. I carry the tablet for the same reason. There are Android softwares that do 3D graphics for design work, very easy to use and way, way cheaper. They don't meet the standards of professional programs yet but they are nibbling at the hems of functionality.

Now, I don't want to give a review because that would hinder the surprise effect when you discover things for yourself. So consider this a stumble upon, ooh man, check this out, kind of thing. The first is cadTouch, for computer aided dedign. Drawing a chair or house or thing is possible. The next is Water Color Pencil, it is an drawer's artbox, if the interface suits you. The tools are fine, you supply the skills. The last is INKredible. This is an iPad app gone Android. It has got to be the note app to end all note apps. I like it nuff said, but let me say I like it a lot. Check them out for yourselves, remove them if there not for you.

You may not be able to save in some apps but don't forget screenshots and exporting via email to self (same as saving except file format may be different). Now go get it n play wid it!