The Transdisciplinary Seminar on Afrofuturism explores how representations of science, technology, and social engineering intersect with visual cultural expressions of the African Diaspora. Science fiction is the organizing theme that unites the guest presentations and works under consideration. Visiting artists and cultural theorists lecture on the role of futuristic speculations in African diasporic art, literature, film, and music. The ability of science fiction to function as both a fractured mirror of historical experience and a projection of the collective desires of a displaced people is discussed throughout the semester.
Mendi + Keith Obadike make music, art and literature. Their works include The Sour Thunder, an Internet opera (Bridge Records), Crosstalk: American Speech Music (Bridge Records), Big House/Disclosure, a 200-hour public sound installation (Northwestern University), and a poetry collection, Armor and Flesh. Their honors include a Rockefeller Foundation New Media Arts Fellowship, a Pick Laudati Award for Digital Art, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Vectors Fellowship from the University of Southern California. Their intermedia work has been commissioned by Whitechapel Art Gallery and The Whitney Museum of American Art. Keith received a MFA in Sound Design from Yale University. Mendi received a PhD in Literature from Duke University. Mendi + Keith are currently developing a sound installation series (African Metropole/Sonic City), an intermedia suite titled American Cypher, and a new series of performance works that includes Four Electric Ghosts, an Opera-Masquerade (Mmanwu) commissioned by The Kitchen.
The public lectures are co-sponsored by the Fine Arts Program in Parsons The New School for Design and The School of Undergraduate Studies in The New School for Public Engagement with support from The Robert Lehman Foundation.