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.  

No comments: