What is the relationship between the civil rights struggle in the United States, interdisciplinary art, and quantum physics? It seems nothing. Unless, of course, your name is Black Quantum Futurism, you’re a group of African-American artists from Philadelphia who just won the Collide Prize, which gives you the opportunity to share your work with that developed by physicists at CERN, the world’s largest particle laboratory located in Switzerland, Next to the French border.
“It all started in 2008, when Kamai had our blogs and a mutual friend told us that we should get to know each other because we wrote about very similar issues: astrology, philosophy, sacred geometry, music, meditations on space and time,” he says. Rashida Phillips, who in addition to her interest in all of these issues is a housing attorney, represents low-income people facing evictions and designs policies so that unprotected communities are not displaced from their homes and can project themselves into the future. Kamai Aiwa, his partner – better known by the stage name mother of mor– Musician, poet, art curator and gender activist. Inspired by the work of Camus and other African American artists, Rachida launched the initiative in 2011 Afrofuturism issue, Where he presented the work of a group of creative people of African origin. He recalls, “By that time I had already started writing fiction and organizing science fiction readings, and in 2014 Kamai created the audio environment for one of those readings. That’s when we started having very deep conversations about time and the idea of quantum futurism emerged. It can be said that this It was our first project as The future of the black quantum.”
The term Afrofuturism was coined by cultural critic Mark Deere in an article published in 1994 to refer to the production of people of color in the lands of speculative fiction and science fiction. The truth is that these practices go back several decades in time. With advocates such as Sun Ra in music or Octavia E. Butler in literature, Afrofuturism explores the existence of alternate worlds in which the possibilities of people of color are expanded through technology. Psychedelic funk, alien civilizations, time travel, and futuristic utopias combine to shape the movement. “For us, it’s just about black people getting into the future,” Rashida explains. “In the world we live in this is speculative because we are often pushed out of the future. We can verify this if we look at the many cases of police brutality we encounter every day and the high infant mortality rate that affects our society.” Kamay adds, “The future of Africans for us consists of the tools of construction that allow us to enter the future,” and this can happen by taking advantage of the ways in which traditional African culture has understood its relationship with time, a concept in which effect can precede cause and in which it can The past and the future coexist in endless states of possibility.”
And what does quantum theory have to do with all this? Well, one of the great areas of study is precisely time and the different ways in which it is affected by events and experiences. In Western and modern traditions, time is linear and always moves forward. According to Rashida Phillips, this favors domination, possession, oppression, and conquest, and has implications that range from the way we engage with the environment to the way we structure our education system. This is reflected in the African American community in the way its members are treated by the labor and legal system. Rachida says, “Time is so present in everything we do that we don’t realize it’s a concept with a history, and if we go back a little bit, we find very different ways of thinking and understanding it. The main goal of Black Quantum Futurism is to develop alternative ways of thinking about time in order to Building healthy ways to inhabit it so that the black community can live better. What physics offers us is: new possibilities for thinking about time.” “It suffices to stop at what quantum theory tells us about the behavior of particles, they are able to coexist in a number of possible states and travel back in time, which is very similar to what tells us that” the African tradition, in which time is not necessarily linear, adds Kamai. , but it can be cyclic, and in it not only forward, but also backwards. Quantum mechanics gives us the possibility to reconnect with all that.”
Clocks whose hands move slower or faster depending on how close the observer is or how far away, quantum event maps that collect current events to project into the future or re-examine the past, and a time portal where women of color can enter to create their own temporal are some of the ways in which I found it Black Quantum Futurism to reduce the metaphors that reflect on it in the field of expertise. Rashida admits, “Our way of working is less organic than it was in the beginning, because so much of our work is now guided by our business agenda. The advantage is that by living together, there are still instances where we can talk about what we think to come up with new pieces that help us change our perception. to reality.”
Black Quantum Futurism has been awarded the Collide Prize, the arts prize in the CERN program and the city of Barcelona prize for artists who connect art and science, Black Quantum Futurism will spend two months at CERN in Geneva and one month in Barcelona to delve into the mysteries of physics, in particular in what is called CPT symmetry, It is the principle of invariance that includes charge, parity and the sense of time. The acronym CPT coincides with that of assuming people of color time, which is a derogatory expression used to designate the time of people of color based on the assumption that they are always late and not very diligent. The goal, on the one hand, is to highlight the fact that these observations are included in the reality of a society that does not have the same access to transportation systems, and on the other hand, their characteristics have to do with the way they pass. Which the African tradition understands is time, which is not related to the time of the clock, but to the moment when everyone is present somewhere, a more collective concept. The violation of CPT symmetry and further return to this method can be understood under the assumption of temporality. “We want to express the way we experience time as black women and highlight the value of this vision,” Rachida explains. “We are sometimes told why we would like to travel back in time if we end up going back to the days of slavery, but we believe it is possible to travel to places where we will be safe, where we will be loved and respected, and can be in the past and the future.” Kamai adds: “We are excited about this stay at CERN and in Barcelona, because what we want is to continue to expand our exploration and for this we need to meet people from different parts of the world. The beauty of quantum theory is that it allows us to understand ourselves as little bits of a whole, like particles. travel through time and interact in ways that transcend space-time to imagine new ways of thinking about reality.”