The Universouls on a quest near you!

Black speculative fiction – whether literary, visual, or musical – has always been ready to remix influence from East Asian sci-fi, way ahead of the mainstream. I was reminded of this when I came across Universouls, a project headed by Berelson and BEEN TA, two black creatives based in Paris.

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The Black Maker | Notes on Black tech and innovation

Last week was a week of firsts. On Thursday we hosted our first poetry-art-performance event at the Southbank, co-produced with Birmingham based ArtivistsUK. With barely any time to spare we were back to our 2016 AfroFutures_UK conference, The Black Maker, hosted by Birmingham Open Media Lab.

Featuring world renowned mathematicians, artists, local technologists and makers, The Black Maker was a glorious mix of the speculative and the commemorative; discussions ranged from the use of sonic technologies and fractals in pre-colonial African societies to the innovation and radical verve of black mathematicians working in a field often still beset by overtly racist perceptions of black ability. Through talks, discussion, workshops and music, we explored the range of black innovation in tech and the contributions of black makers to scientific progress.

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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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So, what you up to this weekend?

And so it begins. With Black History Month just a week away, we’ve already got our schedule filled with some pretty exciting stuff. First up is Afroflux – an Introduction to Afrofuturism starting tomorrow 24th September at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

Co-hosted by the artist Juice Aleem and with an already fantastic lineup (including XANA who we were privileged to host at last year’s Drag Ball), we’re pleased to share that Florence Okoye will be one of the guest speakers at the Afrofuturism panel starting at 6:30pm.

It’s great to be part of the ever evolving and growing Afrofuturist narrative in the UK and we can’t wait to see all the performances and get down for some deep insights and discussion (you know that’s how we roll). With screenings, live performance, awards and some cosmic sets being played late into the night by Latifah Stone and E Double DJ, we’re already pretty hyped.

So, once again, what *you* up to this weekend?



An Interview with Nikky Norton Shafau

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. Nikki Norton Shafau is a Manchester based artist who will be leading the Storybook workshop. Much of her work is focussed on using the transformative power of narrative to change our perceptions and destinies and we wanted to find out a little bit more about what makes her tick…


AfroFutures_UK: It’s so great to talk with you and I’m especially happy you’re going to be leading a workshop and a guest panellist on the 21st. Do you mind introducing yourself in your own words?

Nikky Norton Shafau: My name is Nikky. I am a little bit strange… I want to become a Storybook.

AF: What do you think defines your art?

NNS: I like exploring self, the unknown, reality and fantasy. I like being silly and serious. I am interested in african oral storytelling traditions, playing with the boundaries between ‘audience’ and artist and finding my own voice; sense of belonging.

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