Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Considering we’re most of the way through the first month of 2017, this is a much belated post but it’s been hard to sum up a tumultuous year. On the other hand, it was also a year of collaboration and new beginnings for us as we moved base to the Midlands.

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The Black Maker, a conference on STEM and black tech

Our (now officially) annual conference arrives at Birmingham for 2016, hosted by the team at Birmingham Open Media Lab. As always you can expect an interdisciplinary mashup of topics in our usual style, with talks, workshops and performance throughout the day.

The Black Maker aims to put the spotlight on black thought, invention and creativity in technology. As an Afrofuturist collective, we want to explore how technology has been impacted by and impacts the black experience and where the intersection of science, tech and liberation lie. Last year our central question was what will blackness look like in the future, this year we want to ask how we will get there.

What to expect?

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Cosmic Ashoke & The Black Maker

This coming week is an exciting one for us as we have not one but two events, both very different but both looking to be very special.

First up on 6th October is Cosmic Ashoke, AfroFutures_UK’s first ever collaboration with the folks from Artivist UK, a socio-political platform that seeks to provide impetus for radical change through the arts. I’ve been to a couple of their events in Birmingham and have always been blown away by the performances and passion.

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…which is great, but, then what?

AfroFutures_UK is a collective of people from different backgrounds and cities, with different skills. Most of our time is spent thinking about what we can do better, so I thought it would be fun to start documenting our journey to becoming whatever it is that we become (hopefully a well grounded, sustainable AfroFuturist collective) and putting thoughts to paper… or rather pixels.

Although we’re still planning some cool events (there is so much good stuff coming for BHM2016!) lately we’ve been thinking about doing more long term projects. The funny thing about being a collective is how we’re all working on cool things individually – Nikky is doing amazing performance art; Laydeez Do Comics, Birmingham has grown into a great community thanks to Charlotte and the comicking community of Brum and between the rest of us, there’s a plethora of articles, talks, essays and what-have-you around the interwebs – but it still takes time and thought to bring it all together.

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Journeying to new futures!

I’m one of those people who really enjoy long train journeys. My favourite kind are the ones that are just long enough for you to go to sleep, but still be travelling when you wake up.

The journey from Birmingham to Liverpool is just long enough to fit a daydream and a nap or two with time to appreciate the passing landscape besides. As I looked out of the window, anticipating the weekend ahead, sometimes I’d find myself wondering how much change the future would bring, how different the landscape would look in 20, 50 or 100 years time. What industries would return, what new cities will be born?

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An Interview with Christopher Lutterodt-Quarcoo

In the run up to Future|Journeys on 21st May, we thought we’d do some quick takes with the various artists and hackers who will be joining the event. First up is Christopher Lutterodt-Quarcoo, a London based artist who will be leading the ‘The Second Coming‘ workshop, an exploration of memory, slavery, genetics and how our past can interact with our futures…

AfroFutures_UK: So let’s start with an introduction to yourself and your work.

Christopher Lutterodt-Quarcoo: In short, I’m a ‘Cult Storyteller’ born in London, but I spent my early years growing up and traveling throughout Africa…

I find disregarded or lost perspectives and make them relevant, through time travelling. As a result I’m a Designer / Artist / Director & Writer and much more to come.

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Monthly Recap – January 2016

We’ve been more than a little bit quiet since our October event. Hopefully you’ll have noticed more signs of life on Twitter and Facebook as well as the sister tumblr blog but don’t think we haven’t been working manically behind the scenes!

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2016 has certainly already started as a year of collaboration. Throughout January we worked together with How We Get To Next, a magazine which focuses on the intersection of technology and society, on their Afrofuturist season. We aimed to give a global view not just of what’s going on in contemporary Afrofuturism but also to hear from those using digital media and technology to empower black people around the world.

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Learn To Code at AfroFutures_UK!

Part of our mission at AfroFutures_UK is to encourage engagement with technology amongst BAME communities, especially BAME youth. We’ll be holding an Arduino and coding workshop all day upstairs (except from 12:00-2:00 during the DIY Time Travel workshop led by Rasheedah Phillips) which is completely informal, free to join and suitable for all ages. You are advised to bring your own laptops.

You will be assisted by James Medd and Florence Okoye (web development tutor at CodeBar.io Birmingham). If you would also like to join as a volunteer, do get in touch.

Many thanks to Arduino Manchester who have kindly donated their Arduino kits to support this event.

Credit: Featured image created by Joshua Mays.

One week to go!

Having spent almost a year preparing for this event, it’s hard to believe we’re just under a week away from AfroFutures_UK 2015.

Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to our crowdfunder. We raised just over £400 which will be a significant help in providing travel bursaries for our guests. To those of you who have contributed, you will be receiving your posters by the end of October and printed anthologies/program sets by the end of November. For those who missed the chance to donate, we’ll be setting up a PayPal account so people can contribute as they feel able to help support AfroFutures_UK.

So now what?

Our full schedule of events is now up so do have a look and see what’ll be on.  After the conference, we’ll be heading next door to Terrace NQ for an amazing afterparty featuring Lady Vendredi and other special guests. Entry will be on a donation basis – whatever you’re able to give – and all proceeds wills be split between FUSION and Action For Trans Health.

More updates will be coming soon but in the meantime, keep spreading the word and we hope to see you there!