Expedition 2 . Bedford Stuyvesant, 2015 [photo by Stephanie Rose Burgess]

The Rift: An Afronaut's Journey

  • Year: 2015... ongoing
  • Team: Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde
  • Role:

    Concept, Design, Technology

What does it mean to be seen yet unseen, to belong while being excluded, to exist in the penumbra... to be seen and see as alien... as "the other"?

The Rift: An Afronaut's Journey wrestles with the misrepresentation of cultures and people of the African descent. The Rift holds that the lack of representation of these peoples and their culture in current projections of the future pose an existential threat. It argues that the denial of this "future space" distorts Africa's potential and denies the intrinsic human capacity of planning and organizing to its people. The effects of the above are an insidious erosion of the agency of the subject and their culture, and persistent alienation of their humanity.

The Afrofuturist sci-fi time-space speculative narrative and performance follows the expeditions of Dr. Tanimowo, an Afronaut from the future, who travels back in time collecting archeo-biological artifacts. He hopes to find and fix the reasons for the collapse of his culture.

Afronaut Suit, 2015 - Raspberry Pi, expanding foam, Arduino, feathers, fur, speaker, acrylic, cloth, tubing [editor, Kassahun Elia Villa]

Expedition 2 . Bedford Stuyvesant, 2015 [photo by Stephanie Rose Burgess]

Afronaut Suit   ⬆️

  • 2015
  • Audio/video recording and streaming
  • Automatic water and food Dispenser
  • Spiritually protective undergarment
  • Body and helmet cooling/circulation
  • Consecrated feathers
  • 6 Hour battery life
  • Air purifier
  • GPS Tracking
  • Expedition 5 . Washington DC, 2017 [photo by Adrian Loving]

    Expeditions   ⬆️

    Since his arrival Afronaut Tanimowo has explored predominately African-American communities, such as Harlem, Fort Greene, and Bedford Stuyvesant, making anthropological studies and field reports in hopes of understanding his past. In so doing, Tanimowo displays a possible representation of the future for peoples of this current time-space.

    The Afronaut constructs his suit of African patterned fabric and other materials available to him in his current time-space. He designs, builds, and utilizes 3 artifacts; a communication device; a food device; a breathing device, all serve as technologically functional apparatus that sustain him during his expeditions.

    Expedition 2 . Bedford Stuyvesant, 2015 [photo by Stephanie Rose Burgess]

    Expedition 4 . Shanghai, 2016 [photo by Jefferson Pinder]

    Expedition 5 . Washington DC, 2017 [photo by Adrian Loving]

    Expedition 4 . Shanghai, 2016 [photo by Jefferson Pinder]

    Artifacts   ⬆️

    The scientist found a way to cross-breed animal and plant organisms. The most common food product is a bioengineered crossing between green/blue algae and nutria. The algae produce glucose that is ingested by the animal cells, thus growing the organism simply known as onjẹ. The surface of the organism can be scraped to provide a vegetarian meal, or harvested for meat. Because the vegetable part, when eaten raw, is bitter, it is customary to season with palm oil and vinegar. The meat part is safe to eat raw when consumed within an hour from harvesting. When caressed the organism secretes a sugary paste that has been calibrated to meet daily dietary needs.

    There are colonies where chimneys emit plumes of noxious gasses, the air is thick and black, and the smoke sticks to the dwellings. Some of these gasses are naturally generated, sulfur dioxide, methane, soot from the volcanic activities… but the main bulk is man-made. To guard against these gasses it is advisable to don afẹ́fẹ́.

    ẹnu is an engineered techno-organism, an expression of the new modes of communication that go beyond that of human-to-human. ẹnu allows the traveler to communicate with entities she/he might encounter along the way. Colloquially known as the Frank Drake Communicator, the device utilizes three main modes of communicating. 1) human to human: sensorial; transmission of empathy/emotion and verbal communication. 2) human to machine: data transfer. 3) human to non-human/alien: haptic, sound, light.

    onjẹ, 2015 - Raspberry Pi, expanding foam, Arduino, feathers, fur, speaker, cloth, tubing

    afẹ́fẹ́, 2015 - Raspberry Pi, expanding foam, Arduino, feathers, fur, speaker, cloth, tubing

    Ẹnu (AKA Drake Communicator), 2015 - Raspberry Pi, expanding foam, Arduino, feathers, fur, speaker, cloth, tubing

    Unit 1   ⬆️

    Councilmember O*run, previously known as Sun Ra, called an emergency meeting of The Thirteen. These closed meetings lasted for over 100299pi. The sub-ogas subpoenaed the top scientists, historians, and mathematicians from each sector. By decree, they were confined to the walls of the new Oyo Colony University until a reason for the disappearances was found.

    There was great disagreement as to the cause of the vanishings. The geologists formed ideas of continental collapse, but this did not account for the air particulates. The sonicitians developed their theory that the music, now lacking in drum beats, caused a spiritual vacuum allowing for the collapse of the material world. The Yorubarians, a traditionalist sect of the ancient Yoruba religion fused with the proto AIs, can up with the most likely explanation now called The Rifting.

    A sub-committee, simply known as UNIT 1, continues the work of The Thirteen. They live secretly amongst us. This is evidence of their activities in Brooklyn, New York.

    Unit 1 . Donald, 2015 - Digital Print

    Unit 1 . Arabelle1, 2015 - Digital Print

    Unit 1 . Amirah, 2015 - Digital Print

    Afronaut Suite   ⬆️

    The Afronaut's soundtrack played through speakers in his helmet and outwards the public via the device called ẹnu. [collaborator, Yoko K.]

    Drake Communicator, 2015 - Mp3

    Expedition 003-Ue, 2015 - Mp3

    Live Specimens, 2015 - Mp3

    New Arrivals, 2015 - Mp3

    Report to Council, 2015 - Mp3