If you've ever wanted to travel through space and time, look no further than Virginia Tech's upcoming Cube Fest 2021.
Featuring multisensory art by a cohort of undergraduate and graduate students, the three-day "Sound of Space: An Interactive Afrofuturist Experience" will bring together artists, researchers, industry professionals, and electronic music in order to encourage innovation.
Open for free to the public from August 20-22, the in-person exhibit was orchestrated to stimulate the mind with interactive sonic, visual, tactile and olfactory elements. Its venue, a mind-bending installation called "The Cube," was specially designed for immersive environments like Cube Fest. It comes outfitted with 140 high-density loudspeakers that make sound outputs more spatially rich and complex.
Cube Fest was built around a central theme of Afrofuturism, a cultural framework that most centrally speculates the Black experience of future generations. Often pulling from elements of science fiction, history and fantasy, modern embodiments of the philosophy include the Marvel film Black Panther, HBO's Lovecraft Country, and the music of Janelle Monáe.
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Influential composer and musician Sun Ra is credited with merging the movement with music, especially through the score of his 1974 feature film, Space Is The Place. According to the Cube Fest website, the movie was a main source of inspiration. The oeuvre of George Clinton and his band Parliament-Funkadelic was another reference, with ideas of transport, funk, flow and testimony reigning as festival motifs.
"We have invited Afrofuturist artists to share their spatial/musical visions for the Cube, creating experiences that are possible only on high-density loudspeaker arrays," said assistant professor Tyechia Thompson, whose students created the immersive display.
In addition to Cube Fest's in-person component, the event will also host virtual exhibits created by artists known globally for their work in Afrofuturism. Among them are Jupiter Blue (a duo of tone scientists), sonic activist Shannon Sea and Yvette Janine Jackson, a composer and sound installation artist who also teaches at Harvard University.