Black Is King - 2020

Searching Afrofuturism aesthetic

Posted on Nov 8, 2022

With Film AI-powered search engine you can attempt very specific searches, including searching for aesthetics across the database. Here we chose to ask the AI to search for the aesthetic Afrofuturism. Here is a selection of images that emerged from this search. It turns out that Film has many major references of this trend. We let you discover the images and the history of this aesthetic in this article.

Afrofuturism is an artistic trend and aesthetic that appeared in the second half of the 20th century. The term was coined in 1993 by the academic Mark Dery in his essay "Black to the Future". However this style did not wait to be named to exist. It appeared as early as the 1960s in the context of the African-American rights movement and in art with the science fiction novel Nova by Samuel R. Delany. Afrofuturism developed through a multidisciplinary art movement (literature, music, visual arts) defined by Mark Dery as "the appropriation of science fiction technology and imagery by African Americans". This style blends elements of science fiction, Afrocentrism and magic realism in a non-Western setting.

Afrofuturism in cinema

Thanks to the struggles for African American rights in the 1960s, black actors took on more prominent roles in films, most notably in the science fiction movie Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which starred Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura, a lieutenant with high responsibility on a spaceship. This is the first time a black character has played a leading role in a television series set in space.

One of the most influential films in the Afrofuturist imaginary is the cosmic and experimental Space Is The Place, written by the musician Sun Ra and Joshua Smith. It features the jazzman and his big band the Arkestra in an esoteric and shinny universe. In the movie Sun Ra discovers a new planet that he elects as the new land of the African Americans, and the only possible means of transportation to this planet is music.

Afrofuturism is also embodied in the Marvel universe by Black Panther, the first black superhero in the comics. This figure is taken up and staged in the recent blockbuster Black Panther, which depicts the fate of a man, protector of Wakanda, an imaginary African kingdom that would never have been colonized. To learn more about the costumes of Black Panther movie .

Afrofuturism references in today music

This Afrofuturistic universe also continues in today's music with references taken from various music videos. Here is screencaps of some music videos from the Flim database.

Floria Sigismondi uses this aesthetic for the Rihanna music video Sledgehammer which is the soundtrack of the latest Star Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond.

The singer Janelle Monáe also incorporated Afrofuturist elements in her music videos, including I like that, mixing themes like love, identity and self-realization.


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