This episode of the Astro Black video cycle considers the origins and politics of Sun Ra's Afrofuturist mythology.
Race for Space gives life to Sun Ra's claim to have been abducted by aliens who schooled him in the radical potential of music. While working as a piano man in Chicago in 1943, Sun Ra is contacted by Morpheus who offers him a choice of two destinies. Flashing forward to the 1969 moon landing, Neil Armstrong discovers that outer space has already been colonized by Sun Ra and his intergalactic ensemble The Arkestra. At stake in this episode is the cultural politics implicit in the territorialization of outer space, both as a geography and a virtual field of possibility.
Titled in tribute to Sun Ra’s 1972 album, Astro Black is an ongoing multi-channel video cycle informed by cultural theories of Afrofuturism. Taking the cosmic jazz musician Sun Ra as a point of departure, this speculative history seeks to draw out the nexus of science fiction and social politics in Black Atlantic sonic culture.
Materials: Apollo 13 (1995), The Birth of a Nation (1995), Crips and Bloods: Made in America (2008), The Dish (2000), The Fountain (2006), From the Earth to the Moon (1998), Hairspray (2007), I Dream of Jeannie (1965), Idlewilde (2006), In the Shadow of the Moon (2007), The Matrix (1999), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), Moon (2009), The Night James Brown Saved Boston (2008), Outkast: The Videos (2003), Planet Terror (2007), Scratch (2001), Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise (1980), The Temptations (1988). Music: Circe Banks, Clint Mansell I’m Sam Bell, Clint Mansell Are You Receiving?, Clint Mansell Welcome to Lunar Industries, Clint Mansell Holy Dread!, Mixmaster Mike & Robert Johnson King of the Delta Blues, Outkast Call the Law.