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WREK Atlanta Radio: On Cybism & Decoding the Letter

On January 2, I was on a live WREK Radio Sunday Special talking about Tron: Legacy and my latest research, Cybism and Decoding the Letter: Countering Mass Culture’s Reductional Breakdown Through Afro-futuristic Forms of Representation and Emergent Platforms.

The online archive of the show is available until Sunday, January 16, 2011:

http://www.wrek.org/playlist.php/main/24kbs/current/SS.m3u (it’s about 35 minutes in)

I also blogged about it here:

http://afrofuturism.net/2011/01/02/cybism-decoding-the-letter

Cybism & Decoding the Letter

Enter the realm of pure unadulterated street art and experience what is now a thriving knowledge culture that merges specialized forms of representation: alphabets, drawings, paintings (graffiti), films/videos, choreographic notations based on symbolic, linguistic and scientific formulations, programming languages, hardware (robotics, handheld devices), software (game platforms) and so on . . .

Rammellzee, Beat Bop and Bi-Conicals

“Bi-Conicals of the Rammellzee / Beat Bop (with art by Jean-Michel Basquiat).” © Gomma/Profile Records, 2004/1983.

This begins my essay entitled, Cybism and Decoding the Letter: Countering Mass Culture’s Reductional Breakdown Through Afrofuturistic Forms of Representation and Emergent Platforms … Or something like that.  The inspiration for this effort is the work of the first phase of modern graffiti/hip-hop art pioneers who have explored Afrofuturism as a theme: Rammellzee, Futura (formerly Futura 2000) and Doze Green.  More specifically the essay highlights Gothic Futurism, Rammellzee’s concept concerning a “new twist on the old mythologies and religions.”

“Ikonoklast Panzerism introduced by so-called graffiti for the remanipulation by and from energy through the body for the repercussions and rediscussions of society’s misleading reductional break-down.” ― Rammellzee

Rammellzee, Sigma

"Sigma" by Rammellzee. © Gothic Futurism web site, 2010.

Tribute

"Rammellzee Tribute" in Second Life. © All Rights Reserved by mabmacmoragh, 2010.

Rammellzee appropriated and decoded ‘sigma’, the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and created a distinctly new form of representation as a transformation of a classic signature visual motif into a laser gun from science fiction.  Canonical letter forms are re-created as metaphorical weapons to destroy negative cultural practices and “diseased systems.”  To experiment with Ikonoklast Panzerism in Second Life I used techniques similar to collage and assemblage that had to be employed that are unique to the virtual 3D, game world environment.  My Tribute combines the art of Rammellzee with urban detritus of the material world to construct an collage/assemblage of virtual 3D objects, or planes that were built and textured to simulate the real thing.  The aspects of virtuality in this Second Life art simulation engaged users, embodied as avatars, in a participative experience.

This work reflects a system, or energy dynamics through a hybrid blending of material, analog aspects and the techno-presence of the body in an urban/cosmic environment.  These practices are characterized by what Nechvatal refers to as a cybistic zeitgeist, as a “quality-of-life desire in which everything, everywhere, all at once is connected in a rhizomatic web of communication.”  Artist/theorist Joseph Nechvatal’s notion of cybism detects an “attraction towards the abstractions of advanced technological and scientific discovery ―discovery now stripped of its fundamentally reductive logical methodology.”

The knowledge context in which these abstractions are produced lay out a “common plane of immanence on which all minds, all bodies and all individuals are situated.”  Virtuality merges these aspects and practices through the creation of concepts and tracing of metaphysical planes on which these concepts exist.  This plane involves creative practices that tie into other activities and practices external to it.  To further explicate this development we can look to the next level or layer of artistic and technological progress: emergent game platforms and other digital media technologies.

Once this essay is submitted and published I plan to follow this post up.  In the meantime …

Some of the first phase modern graffiti art pioneers/futurists are still leading the way:

LENNY MCGURR & LEGO

Nettrice Gaskins: Afrofuturist Artist

Nettrice Gaskins -- Masthead

Nettrice has gifted us with the first graphic banner for Afrofuturism.net.  It is based on her ongoing artistic work in the Second Life environment:

Alternate Futures: Afrofuturist Multiverses & Beyond is an interactive, immersive 3D art experience primarily concerned with Afrofuturism, an artistic, literary, and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of sci-fi, artscience, fantasy and magical realism with non-Western concepts in order to investigate contemporary issues of people of color, but also to re-examine linkages to historical events of the past.  This Second Life simulation overlays virtual art with a socio-political dichotomy and asks the visitor to choose.

Her biography:

I am an artist who bridges the actual and virtual worlds and explores how these realities can have a transformative impact on people’s lives and experiences when it can be fully implemented and realized. My purpose is to bring together people, concepts, modalities, media, and worlds through art.  In Fall 2010 I will join a vibrant community of practitioner/theorists in the Digital Media PhD program at Georgia Tech as a student.

Nettrice also blogs for PBS Art:21, so check out her work there.

We welcome Nettrice as a contributor and look forward to more contributions of art and writing.

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