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Eric Kluitenberg (12 March 2013) - The Mothership

interconnected imagery[edit]

Parliament01.jpg Lostcontinent01.jpg Akomfrah01.jpg Mothershipconnection02.jpg Lostcontinent02.jpg Lsd01.jpg Sunrah01.jpg Garvey01.gif Georgeclinton01.jpg Garvey02.jpg Garvey black star liner01.jpg Garvey03.jpg Lsd02.jpg Mothership01.jpg Lostcontinent03.jpg Neo01.gif Mothershipconnection01.jpg Akomfrah02.png Sunra02.jpg Interconnection01.gif Mothershipconnection03.jpg Mothership02.jpg

Introduction: Afrofuturism[edit]


Black to the Future: Afro-Futurism 1.0 by Mark Dery

Mark Dery was the first to coin the term 'afro-futurism', in this essay from 1995.

The Last Angel of History[edit]

Last Angel of History, from 1996, is a documentary by John Akomfrah. In this 45-minute doc he draws parallels between Pan-African culture, science fiction and computer technology. He interviews black cultural figures, including musician George Clinton, novelist Ismael Reed and cultural critics Greg Tate and Kodwo Eshu.

Data Thief

The documentary also contains a fictional element: the story of the Data Thief, "a bad boy, scavenger, poet figure" looking for a crossroads to make an archaeological dig, where he can find fragments that combined will be the key to the future. He has one clue: Mothership Connection.

Media Archaeology[edit]

Study of the media apparatus.

Imaginary Media[edit]

Black Rights Movement[edit]

Wallace Fard Muhammed

African and Egyptian Mythology combined with a Western future[edit]

"Egyptian Mythology is the collection of myths from ancient Egypt, which describe the actions of the Egyptian gods as a means of understanding the world."

The Aesthetics of Afro Futurism are often inspired by ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs/patterns and mixed with science fiction

Sun Ra, or Herman Poole Blount was fascinated by Egyptian mythology. During his Chicago Years (1945-1961), he was fascinated by the cities many Egyptian-styles buildings and monuments. He read books such as George G.M. James Stolen Legacy in which James argues that Greek philosophy had it's roots in ancient Egypt. During the late 1950s Sun Ra and his band began wearing Egyptian styled costumes mixed with science fiction elements. For the band these uniforms had multiple purposes, they expressed Sun Ra's fascination with ancient Egypt and the space age, they provided a uniform for the Arkestra and it didn't look like they took themselves as seriously as other avant garde artists.

The costumes they were wearing in a way turned the performers into an object, something that had to be given thought or reconsidered. Racial assumptions were dismantled by the surreal and absurd way of performing an act. The way in which the Afrofuturists portrayed themselves made them disconnect from the dominant black image in the 80s. They created a new universe, and by doing so a new future.

Back to Africa[edit]

Garvey and his UNIA members often wore military uniforms.

Marcus Garvey and the Black Star Line

Marcus Garvey (1887 - 1940) was born in Jamaica and the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). He created the 'Back to Africa' movement in the United States, urging African-Americans to return to their homeland.

Garvey founded the Black Star Line to facilitate this return, a shipping line for the transportation of goods and African Americans from the United States to West-Africa. It was in operation between 1919 and 1922 and to Garvey it was a business, similar to the succesful White Star Line. According to Erik Kluitenberg the project was no success. Not only did it fail as an economic enterprise, but the Black Star Line also couldn't deliver on the promise of 'returning people to their ancestral home'. Born and raised in the USA, Africa didn't feel like home to these African Americans, so there was nothing to 'go back to'.

Erik Kluitenberg: "Going back to Africa makes no sense. These people were born in the United States. They've been there for generations, they're not Africans. [...] Why this datathiefing? It's an alien love?"

Sun Ra[edit]

Both in Funk and LSD are perceived as technologies, that allows transcending


  • Documentary: The Last Angel of History, John Akomfrah, 1994 [1] (first 10 minutes)
  • Book/DVD: Book of Imaginary Media, Eric Kluitenberg (ed.), 2006 [2]
  • Article: Black to the Future: Afro-Futurism 1.0, Mark Dery [3]


PiratePad link:


Object: the mothership / the motherwhell the motherwhell is still in circulation, waiting


  • black science fiction

Media Archeology

  • not looking for grand historical narratives
  • excavating media object and tries to trace what links to it

science of the singular , from Barthes

imaginary media 'Machines that mediate impossible desires' a dream that tries to resolve human failings through technology an embodiment of a desire that is unreachable

Documentary: the last angel of history - John Akomfrah

The mothership connection - G.Cliton concept of what happend to sound when you pass it through the studio Link btw africa as a lost continent and as a prosperous resource

The datathief: Navigation trough our present. Two tools; the black box and a pair of sunglasses. Sun Ra Lee Perry "We explore our future trough the music"

(digital diaspora)

There is always the believe that the machines of the next generation will solve (all!) human problems. (this can be found throughout media history)

Black Rights Movement Wallace Fard Muhammad Founder of the Black nation of Islam - a more extreme movement than Malcom X Spiritual father of the "Mother-Wheel" (connection to the Black Panther movement)

Heritage from BNI imaginary Egyptology mythology - Egyptians came from outer space. The black people came from outer space. The spaceship never left planet earth (This is the motherwheel) Eventually blacks (and asians!) would be taken by this stealth ship and be taken to a more suitable planet for them to live on. When it does, it will be a day of reckoning for the white people.

The Black Star Line - incorporated by Marcus Garvey (Jamaican - in the Rastafarian movement the connection to exodus is already existent) In operation between 1919 and 1922 A passenger ship connection from New York to West Africa. (it completely failed!) If you are not from Africa, then why go back? For black Americans, Africa was an alien place. Although they had their roots in Africa, they were to enstranged from it. There is no back to go back to or no future to go anywhere else. The question is how to resolve the intolerance and rasism between the blacks and the white?

Picture: Garvey in a colonial suit.

Mark Dery's Black to the Future: Afro-Futurism 1.0

Liberia return and liberation of slaves, after American civil war resulting in a replication of the master - slave relationship, although in a free context

George Clintons's Mothership Conection Album Parliament / the narrative of deliverance into space

Sun Ra - SPACESHIP LULLABY / space is the place!

Quote Sun Ra Interview: "I've been there [in Space] before, it would be like going home. This is note my home. This panet, to me, is like a railroad station; people are here today and gone tomorrow. It's not really home to anybody, it wasn' t made to be home to anybody, it's like a big university that people sit in to learn how to be punished if they so choose. There are too many jails on this planet, too many destructive forces, but I can stop all that if maybe some government would help me ... "

On the spaceship they are constantly searching for a new planet to become their home Transcending a completely impossible situation - the mother-wheel machine the lack of popular references of black man in space - the mother-wheel would make possible this impossible desire

'We fold back on narratives' - the recurrent narrative from Christianity to Afro-Futurism, of a saving entity returning to earth to save the oppressed How do these themes survived in popular culture Steve ex. ---> David Bowie as a part of the pop glamorous stage in 70s and his visual appearance presents the class distinguishes among the people.

Both in Funk and LSD are perceived as technologies, that allows transcending