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Deconstructing the Unisphere

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For the The
 Shape 
of 
Things
 to 
Come: 
Science 
Fiction 
at 
Georgia
 Tech panel, November 2011.

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Deconstructing the Unisphere

  1. 1. DECONSTRUCTINGTHEUNISPHEREHIP-HOP ON A SHRINKING GLOBE IN ANEXPANDING UNIVERSEBy Nettrice R. Gaskins, Digital Media Ph.D. Candidate
  2. 2. "Kick that ol robotic,futuristic, George Jetson,CRAZY JOINT!!"THE SPACE AGEDuring the period of its restoration the Unisphere became a backdrop for many hip-hopprojects including on The Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill” album cover, in Craig Mack’s “Flavorin Your Ear” music video, and in Talib Kweli’s and Hi Tek’s recent video “In this World.” Thiswork can be placed within a much broader, deeper theoretical purview.
  3. 3. HELIOCENTRICWORLDSSun Ra manifested virtuality,as alternative states (orspaces) ofbeing. Philosopher GillesDeleuze wrote about the“laying out of a commonplane of immanence onwhich all minds, all bodiesand all individuals aresituated.” This notion canbe used to explain BlackAtlantic cultural practicesthat can be found inAfrofuturism.
  4. 4. AFROFUTURISMScience fiction is a constanttheme that occurs repeatedlyin youth, urban subculture –even with limited resourcesparticipants are veryadaptive and flexible in theiruse of various sci-ficonventions. Several well-known artifacts and themesare situated in culturallyaffirmative environmentsand in hip-hop production.
  5. 5. IDENTITYRECONSTRUCTIONSAfrofuturism is all about theexpansion of creativity intosomething unique andunusual. Grace Jones was apioneer in the materialworld. She has done toherself what online usershave done to their avatars –deconstruct variousconventions in order toconstruct or re-constructnew identities and worlds –which can be seen incontemporary hip-hop, i.e.music videos.
  6. 6. QUESTIONSCan we better understandhow Black Atlantic culturalpractitioners manifestconceptual planes ofimmanence? We already seeit in art and literature. Howabout the next level oftechnological innovation?

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