Collated research on the OKO system

OKO is the early warning system

The type of satellite is Upravlyaemy Sputnik Kontinentalny, or US-K.

These form the Kosmos system (which I have also seen spelt Cosmos).

‘The satellites are drum-shaped, 2 metres long with a diameter of 1.7 m. They weigh 1,250 kilograms without fuel and 2,400 kilograms when fully loaded. They have a 350 kg infrared telescope pointing toward Earth, with a 4 m conical sunshield and an instrument bus. The telescope, which is the satellites’ main instrument, is able to detect radiation from ascending missiles.’

Kosmos has a total of 101 satellites launched between 1972 and 2012, according to Wiki.

The last US-K satellite (Kosmos 2469) was launched on 30 September 2010. As of December 2015, the entire OKO programme is being replaced by the new EKS (or Tundra) satellites and the Kupol system.‘Reportedly the Tundra satellites carry also a secure emergency communications payload to be used in case of a nuclear war.’ I think there are six in orbit, with another launching this year. https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/tundra.htm

The satellites rely on infrared sensors that can directly detect radiation emitted by a missile plume.

An over-the-horizon (OTH) radar, like all radars, detects reflections of electromagnetic signal that it sends in the direction of a target. OTH radars deployed on the Soviet territory were able to detect missile launches on the territory of the United States by using reflections of electromagnetic impulses from Earth’s ionosphere.

The system began limited operations in 1978 and was placed on combat duty in 1982 (so it was very new when the 1983 incident occurred).

The bunker in Serpukhov-15 includes antennas to communicate with the satellites.

Launches of early-warning satellites into highly elliptical orbits are performed by Molniya-M launchers from the Plesetsk launch site in northern Russia.

An amazing website for tracking satellites http://www.satflare.com/home.asp

The full list of satellites in the Kosmos system https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/us-k.htm

Related artworks: The Time Before The Fire by Nye Thompson

Vanguard 1, the oldest artificial satellite still in orbit around the Earth
Vanguard 1, the oldest artificial satellite still in orbit around the Earth. Source link below.

Nye Thompson has begun some new research around satellites, especially decommissioned ones, for an online residency with Mostyn Gallery.

This is the summary:

Far above, over our heads a hidden choreography of national and commercial power struggles is playing out. Military, communications, GPS, imaging, monitoring, surveillance – satellites live fast and hard. Existence maintaining baseline performance in the New Frontier is precarious

Alongside them are the ghosts –  thousands of decommissioned siblings that have outlived their usefulness. They will tumble along their graveyard orbits for years or centuries before they hit the atmosphere and burn.’

Nye kindly pointed me in direction of the Kosmos system of satellites which was used in the OKO early warning system I’m researching!

https://mostyn.org/event/the-time-before-the-fire/

https://www.instagram.com/p/Cg1RaZ2DX-T/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

African Cosmology

“Mapping the Universe.”

This chapter had graphs and images to show the Bantu Congo understood the creation of the Universe, the function of rituals for creating balance and how medicines(Nkisi) take care of the human being and its surroundings.

The “V” of life inspired how I could be the manifest and control the planes of existence. With this control, I have the spiritual power to create a universe. This is a universe for a transgender deity and the function of being a vessel for transformation.

Wargames: the film (1983)

Film still: Wargames, film (1983)

Made in the same year as the Serpukhov-15 incident, Wargames was a film that speculated on the beginnings of accidental war, automated weapons and hackable military facilities.  The plot focuses on a high school teenager who discovers a backdoor into the computer that controls America’s nuclear weapons. Thinking it can’t possibly be a real military computer, the teenager at first thinks he’s playing a computer game, unable to comprehend the enormity of global violence now at his fingertips.

The computer itself was designed to replace human workers (those in power don’t want moral judgements and ethics to stand in the way) so it begins to play the ‘game’ back. And once it starts, it won’t stop.

The film’s tagline is ‘the only winning move is not to play’. Against the background of my research interests, it’s reminding me of something I read in Carissa Veliz’s book Privacy is Power: ‘the internet does not allow you to remain silent’ (p230). It is incredibly difficult to opt out of systems of surveillance and networks that amass data for ‘algorithms of oppression’, to borrow a phrase from Safiya Umoja Noble.

The technologies of such systems of control rely on our inputs, which is why the issue of choice is so pertinent.

In the film, choice was looked at through the lens of computer automated weaponry.

Finally, in Wargames, to stop the computer and to avert catastrophic destruction, they have to convince it that continuation is futile. The competitive cycle of input and response must stop. There are no winners in nuclear war.

I’m wondering what I can take away from this in relation to my research. Maybe it’s that there are no winners when huge amounts of the population are criminalised, subjected to limited opportunities, and marginalised and discriminated against by opaque computerised processes.

Gillian Wise, Russian Constructivism & Gants Hill station

This is an image of an artwork called Colour Quarter by Gillian Wise produced in 1963. It is a square metal piece with four smaller coloured squares within in. A soft red, a brown-black, an almost turquoise green and an orange. The work has an industrial feel mixed with a playful style.

I am currently researching into artists from Ilford. (Ilford is one answer to where I’m from)

Gillian Wise was a British visual artist born in Ilford. She was part of the English Constructivist movement of the 1950s before becoming a key member of the Systems group.

“Her work follows the principles of experimentation and reduction to elemental units (line, colour, and plane). Her structures play on the effects of the geometry of light and industrial materials, as well as contrasts between transparency and the primary colours.” – aware

This is a black and white image of an artwork by Gillian Wise called Expanding Revolving Line: XRL produced in 1965. It shows two large rectangular pieces, laid over each other with a few centimeters between. The outer is a glass grid that further holds a square metal sheet. Within the square metal sheet, smaller metal squares are lifted onto the surface giving the work a three-dimensional quality. The work is stark and simple, seeming at times like a game but potentially also like a map.


Gillian Wise was born in Ilford in 1936. She grew up in Ilford until leaving the area to study at 18 in Wimbledon. She exhibited as part of the British constructivists and became their youngest member in 1961. She challenged the predominance of American modernism at the time and then continuously throughout her career. She clearly understood art and artistic production to be an overtly political matter and spoke often about the CIA intervention in Cold War cultural production.

From her book, Low Frequency:

“There artists of all stripes and their nascent agents had to be American to get the full treatment of nurture and sponsorship since that is what policy demanded. Policy from Washington. Out of this was born the Abstract Expressionist group… the two names which have been retained as most representing that moment are Pollock and Rothko, although the latter was trying for a stylistic variant. While Pollock reflects some early Alexander Rodchenko (one of the original and prolific members of the Russian Constructivist movement) experiments, Rothko’s attempt at mysticism, à la Malevich, is a very thin affair.”

Her work was overtly political and she herself was an avowed Leftist who won a British Council scholarship to research Russian constructivism in 1969. She travelled to Leningrad, exhibited in Helsinki and joined the Systems group, a collection of Marxist artists who successfully produced and showed work throughout the 70s.

This is an image of a work by Gillian Wise called Looped Network Suspended in Pictorial Space from 1974. It is acrylic on plastic and contains a central geometric form made of blue red and green lines on a creme background. It gives the impression of string and the sense of flexibility despite all of the lines being perfectly angular.
This is an image of the work Opening Movement by Gillian Wise produced in 1976. It is a painting on paper with acrylic. The background of the image is split horizontally with the lower half painted grey and the upper half creme. In the foreground is an abstract image made of four tilted grey squares descending downward. Connecting them at an odd angle is a blue and red frame. It is as if the simple framed square is springing upward off of its flat back.



Gillian Wise was the only British artist to create work for the opening of the Barbican centre in 1982. Her work, the Alice Walls, inspired by the Russian avant-garde, remained entirely uncredited until 2014. She referenced it as, “a dark episode in the annals of support for national artists and, of course, women.”

The history of this Ilford-born artist gives so much rich context to the sidelining of genuinely Leftist and Marxist positions throughout the Cold War. It also references the definite and unacceptable misogyny of the mainstream British art establishment who have since begun to rewrite their silence around Gillian Wise with her inclusion in a variety of shows.

While on the surface it seems that Ilford plays a limited or invisible role in the artists history, one striking historical coincidence keeps me wondering.

This is an image of Gants Hill train station showing the central concourse. It shows a creme-coloured vaulted ceiling with a row of benches through the middle where some commuters are sitting. At the end of the shot, small but visible in the distance are the escalators going upward. The station is lit by a row of tall upturned lamps across the cental line of benches. The photograph is beautifully symmetrical, except for the commuters who predominantly face the platform leading into central London.
Gants Hill Underground Station in Ilford


In 1937, one year after Gillian Wise was born, construction on the Gants Hill underground station in Ilford began. The station was designed by Charles Holden and was inspired by stations on the Moscow Metro.

Before it was eventually opened to the public in 1947, the ‘under construction’ station was used as an air-raid shelter. After consultation between Moscow and London about the building of the Moscow Metro in the 1930s, British architects returned to London with some new ideas. Gants Hill is designed with a central vaulted concourse separating two platforms in order to maximise the amount of space for the flow of people.

Getting to the platform level of the station is a striking experience. As you travel down the deeply-set downward steps the square floor tiles slowly come into view before the marvel of the ceiling is revealed. The station has barrel-vaulted ceilings and is tiled in a geometric pattern that is reminiscent of the Krasnye Vorota Metro station in Moscow which opened in 1935.

This image is a photograph of Krasnye Vorota Metro Station. It shows a creme-coloured vaulted ceiling with tiled walls. It bears a striking similarity to Gants Hill station in London. In a small difference between the two, this image shows orb-like lights hang from the ceiling. The platform is empty of people and the angle of the photograph emphasizes how barrel-shaped the station design is.
Krasnye Vorota Metro Station


Ivan Fomin was the designer of the Krasnye Vorota Metro Station. Fomin worked in a variety of styles throughout his lifetime, including Art Nouveau, Neoclassicism and an intermediary style of architecture known as Postconstructivism.

By the early 1930s, Constructivist art and architecture had fallen out of favour and was soon to be replaced. Stalinist architecture would become the dominant form of expression for the next decades. Wedged in between these two larger forms is a brief architectural style known as Postconstructivism (sometimes referred to as early Stalinism).

Constructivist work had been wildly imaginative and avant-garde in its use of shapes, materials and technology. It was avowedly political, aiming to incite a social purpose for all people in public spaces. The demise of Constructivism comes alongside the rise of Stalin and the impact of centralised state power. The Stalinist architecture that followed utilized classical forms representing a return to traditional notions of power. Dmitry Khmelnitsky writing about this period suggested that Constructivism was ended by the force of Stalinist power. Khmelnitsky suggests that “traces of the Constructivist style in the Postconstructivism of the 1930s are a sign of indecision, not tradition.” There was a vacuum that state-sponsored artists were filling with a combination of what came before (Constructvisim) and even further back (Classicicism). This combination of ideas was the starting point for Stalinist architecture. Postconstructivism is truly then a misnomer for the return of classicist forms and styles with accidental traces of Constructivism.

Ivan Fomin himself had a deep love for classicism and had spent a long time attempting to develop his own form of proletarian classcisim. In the 1930s he partook in key competitions to design the Moscow Metro. He won just one and designed the station Krasnye Vorota with vaulted ceilings and a central concourse. A model of the station was at the 1938 World’s Fair in Paris where it won the Grand Prix. Fomin designed the station in what would become called Postconstructivism.

This is a black and white image of an architects sketch. It shows an exaggerated and large imagination of what a station could be. It shows an enormous vaulted high-ceiling in tiled segments. Each segment meets the ground with a clump of four neo-classic style columns. The sketch shows some people but its main feature is its rounded ceiling.
Ivan Formin competition entry for a Moscow Metro


Gants Hill station in Ilford, designed by Charles Holden adapted from a design by Ivan Fomin, bares the scars of the Constructivist movement being clamped down on by the Stalinist regime.

Gillian Wise, born in Ilford, developed a career as an artist inspired by Russian constructivist art. She would even travel on a British government grant to research Russian constructivism in the country itself.

Only after this trip to Russia does Wise give up being a Constructivist artist and move on to join the Systems group.

I’m not saying that architectural ghosts haunted Gillian Wise as a child until she was able to exorcise them in the country from which they originated but…I am saying that.

Anointed Garments

As a way of communicating and accessing divine vitality, anointed Garments become a token, and their symbolism is vital to the experience of creating rituals. It is not only representation but the surface/platform for the divine to be present within the fabric and in this plane. These garments facilitate becoming a vessel for the creation of a brand new universe.

How do I create an anointed garment? Colour is key. Colour communicates various meanings in this process, white is the colour of the garment I am creating. White represents innocence, purity, light and authority. Creating anointed garments requires personal cleansing rituals, prayer/meditation, and the offering of self. As part of this residency, I will become the mediator for a transgender deity, and white is the colour called forth.

I began the process with a collaborator to design and create a garment for the mediator/vessel here on earth. These are the current sketches of the garment. Upon completion, it will be offered to the deity and prayed for.

This Valentino show served as a form of inspiration. These Garments are other worldly. I enjoyed watching this show.

Disappearing forests

How can a forest disappear without any trees being cut down? Here are two images showing the same region, the Uinatas mountain range, that show how something can disappear in an instance in satellite-assisted visualisations.

Researchers show that 6% of global forests – equivalent to the size of China – disappear when you define a forest by 10% tree cover instead of 30%. Tree cover describes the density of trees in an area and is used to produce forest/non-forest maps which the researchers say are causing issues.

I started looking at forests because the Serpekov-15 bunker is an area of Russian forest, and this finding relates to my interest in the discrepancies within computer-assisted, data-driven vision. From one perspective, there is a forest. From another, there isn’t.

We might be physically present in that forest and yet it wouldn’t exist.

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/86986/is-that-a-forest-that-depends-on-how-you-define-it

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/87176/when-a-definition-makes-a-forest-disappear

OKO: the eye and Molniya orbits

Image credit: Groundtrack of a Molniya orbit.  By Hartze1 – Public Domain

It was the OKO satellites connected with the Soviet M-10 supercomputer that mistakenly identified sunlight on clouds as the movement of nuclear missiles (OKO being the Russian word for ‘eye’). They detect infrared radiation which is then used to interpret the trajectory of missiles from the heat of their exhausts.

The OKO satellites moved on elliptical Molniya orbits of which there are some nice visualisations on the Wiki page.

Molniya translates as Lightening in Russian and this type of orbit has been used for telecommunications, TV broadcasting, and weather monitoring as well as in the military early warning systems I’m looking at.

Animation of EKS orbit around Earth - polar view Animation of EKS orbit - ECEF - front view Animation of EKS orbit around Earth Animation of EKS orbit - ECEF

watching: lollywood, editing, Noor Jehan

can’t stop watching/listening to these tunes >

Noor Jehan is an icon > singer of over 10,000 recorded songs > first female Pakistani film director in 1951 > affectionately known as the Queen of Melody >

Below you can hear Noor Jehan singing ‘Lal meri pat’ >

Lal meri Pat is the original version of the song that venerates the saint Lal Shahbaz Qalander > it brings the research out from the mystic 12th century reaches > out also from the Afro-South Asian connections > straight to Lollywood >

Pakistan’s film industry set up in Lahore has its own heroes and history > if interested > this podcast has been a joy to listen to >

I’ve been blaring these songs in my room and in my headphones on the go >

I’ve been paying attention to the way these videos are shot and edited >

I’ve enjoyed the sharp, deliberate, on-beat chopping >

Related artworks: OKOgame by Nadya Suvorova

 A person stands in a huge loft space interacting with a game on a big screen.
OKOgame by Nadya Suvorova

I came across an interactive digital work called OKOgame that uses NASA satellite imagery to form an audio-visual experience triggered by mouse clicks. It revolves around a target-like centre which splits into rings that you can control with your mouse. Working like a puzzle, the aim is to get them to fit seamlessly together revealing the original satellite image. There are various levels, each becoming more complicated with an increasing number of moving parts. The soundtrack is recordings taken from within space shuttles.

A peach and blue tinted satellite image broken up into concentric circles.
OKOgame by Nadya Suvorova

Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology: reflections Part 2

Sketchbook plans from Virilio's text that show architectural plans of bunkers from above and the side.
Photo: Virilio, Bunker Archaeology

This is the second part of my reflections on Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology and which sections are resonating with my research.

He writes about the materiality of concrete and how a poured substance can create this sense of claustrophobia and imprisonment:

“It is the coherence of the material itself that must assume this role: the centre of gravity replaces the foundation. In concrete casting, there are no more intervals, joints, everything is compact; the uninterrupted pouring avoids to the utmost the repairs that would weaken the general cohesion of the work. (p47).

‘Their grey cement relief was silent witness to a warlike climate’ (p12).

Although the bunkers themselves are solidly anchored into position, unable to move and or be impacted by events on the ground, Virilio knows that it’s the speed of the things that they are controlling that is at the core of their power. He focuses on the trajectory of weapons, how quickly they are able to move, and the battle for speed.

‘At the heart of combat’… “a new infrastructural-vehicular system always revolutionizes a society in overthrowing both its sense of material and its sense of social relationship” (p19).

It seems for him that it’s the speed of trajectory that is crucial. And related to this is the miniaturisation of space, of making distances feel shorter and easier to travel across. It ties into the omniscient, all-seeing systems of satellite observations, of mapping technologies, and geospatial tools of control.

“A homogenizing process is under way in the contemporary military structure, even inside the three arms specifications: ground, sea, and air is diminishing in the wake of an aeronautical coalesce, which clearly reduces the specificity of the land forces…(T)he volumetric reduction of military objects: miniaturization” (p18).

Finally, he makes a broader point about how technologies of speed and travel are related to the desires of military activities:

“It should never be forgotten that the ancestor of the automobile, the log transporter of the military engineer Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, during its first trip from Paris to Vincennes, was hauling a cannon” (p47).

Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology: reflections Part 1

A black and white image of a rounded concrete bunker emerging from a sandy beach. One circular opening leads into the ground.

Bunker, France, ca. 1958–65. Photo: Paul Virilio

This week I’ve been reading Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology (1967), a collection of texts and photographs documenting his research and visits to the military bunkers of the Atlantikwall along France’s northwest coast. Spanning coasts from northern Norway to Spain, the Atlantikwall consisted of 15,000 bunkers built to conceal radar stations, submarine pens, and various military arsenal.

He reflects on what it feels like to enter one of these ominous monolithic spaces and the relationship between death, tombs and military architecture.

‘I was more impressed by a feeling, internal and external, of being immediately crushed. The battered walls sunk into the ground gave this small blockhouse a solid base; a dune had invaded in the interior space and the thick layer of sand over the wooden floor made the place ever narrower. Some clothes and bicycles had been hidden here; the object no longer made the same sense, though there was still some protection here. A complete series of cultural memories came to mind: the Egyptian mastabas, the Etruscan tombs, the Aztec structures . . . as if this piece of artillery fortification could be identified as a funeral ceremony…’ (p11).

He describes trapdoors in cement floors leading to crypts packed with ammunition, round or hexagonal inner chambers, and often the placement of what alludes to a religious alter or plinth in the centre of the space.

“The bunker was built in relationship to this new climate; its restrained vo1lume, its rounded or flattened angles, the thickness of its walls, the embrasure systems, the various types of concealment for its rare openings; its armour plating, iron doors, and air filters – all this depicts another military space, a new climactic reality” (p39).

I also found it interesting to read his thoughts around the relationship between territorial representation (maps, satellite views) and military expansion. He writes about these representations being strategies of military control – satilletes and radar systems – and desires around ‘controlling expanding territory, of scanning it in all directions (and, as of now, in three dimensions)’ (p17).

“The “conquest of space” by military and scientific personnel is no longer, as it once was, the conquest of the human habitat but the discovery of an original continuum thar has only a distant Iink to geographical reality.”

Another thought I had whilst reading this was the act of fortification and what it means to use the earth’s material itself and underground locations as a kind of barrier.  It’s making me think of the subconscious and how the spatiality of physical spaces can have psychological connotations and interpretations. Also, what it means for the decision-making processes and the actions that are expected to happen at these sites.

“The fortification is a special construction; one does not live there, one executes particular actions there, at a particular moment, during a conflict or in a troubled period” (p42).

INFLUENCE

I am attempting to make a interactive radio play controlled by speaking so the first things I have looked at are modern radio plays….which happen to be fictional podcasts

I never knew the radio play lived on in this form but I have to say

These three podcasts Carrier, The Message and Lif-e.af/ter have been a huge inspiration in how I can use sound as a way to craft a world that feels real and lived in.

Now the differcult bit is to finish writing the episodes.

another Shahbaz, Erick Sermon, lost in the work

CW: mentions of suicide

Another Shahbaz, this time a veneration for the famous and beloved Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalander.

Fascinated (as an outsider), proud (as an insider) of how this/my culture can infuse prayer, dance and music into ritual. I use this visual in Mark of my Departure to bring up a sense of collective ecstatic spirituality and straightforward party vibes.

The visual alone is full of such absurdity and humour; I love the ageing baba having money thrown at him, the dancing kids doing some ubiquitous skanking < maybe the key here is how intergenerational the celebration is?

The people they party to venerate the saint, Lal Shahbaz Qalander.

So much of my own practice is informed by techniques used and made popular by hip hop > sampling, chopping, rapping > somehow this video feels like it has every aspect of a classic early 2000s hip hop video and therein lies the appeal of the visual > it’s a kind of indirect nostalgia > I can access this image of my collective ancestral culture through my individual nostalgia for early 2000s hip hop < displacement is strange

South Asian culture (and cultural artifacts) have a relationship with hip hop that is everywhere to see but not many places to fully understand. My own work tries to explore that relationship. Famous hip-hop producers have lent on South Asian culture to give their music some flair, some essentialised but deliciously addictive vocal chops and catchy melodies < that’s only one aspect of this cultural exchange >

SIDEBAR

Here is the briefest non-chronological history of South Asian samples in mainstream hip-hop production from the early 2000s. that I can remember

Timbaland samples a Colombian song and calls it Indian with saris and babas in the video.

Dr. Dre samples the legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar for one of the bangers of the decade.

Just Blaze serves up a certified club classic with Erik Sermon and Redman with the help of Asha Bhosle and Mohammed Rafi.

SIDEBAR CONT…

I’m writing as I research and have just come across the work of Professor Elliot Powell. Phew. Elliot Powell is doing the work!

“His first book Sounds from the Other Side: Afro-South Asian Collaborations in Black Popular Music (University of Minnesota Press,  2020), brings together critical race, feminist, and queer theories to consider the political implications of African American and South Asian collaborative music-making practices in US-based Black Popular Music since the 1960s. In particular, the project investigates these cross-cultural exchanges in relation to larger global and domestic sociohistorical junctures that linked African American and South Asian diasporic communities, and argues that these Afro-South Asian cultural productions constitute dynamic, complex, and at times contradictory sites of comparative racialization, transformative gender and queer politics, and anti-imperial political alliances.”

“I Don’t Really Know What She’s Sayin’: (Anti)Orientalism and Hop Hop’s Sampling of South Asian Music”

SIDEBAR BECOMES MAIN WORK…

Here’s a story from Powell’s work

Powell charts the link between the lamenting lines of Asha Bhosle (sampled by Just Blaze) and the flippant response from rapper Erik Sermon. The sampling of South Asian music seems to fall into what Powell describes as an early 2000s Indo-chic. The ‘Indian’ aesthetic is utilitzed widely and carelessly to point to a sense of the exotic or oriental. This seems nowhere more evident than in the translation of the sample for the club-ready party hit ‘React’.

“The verse, sung by Asha Bhosle, can be loosely translated as, “If someone has a fondness for suicide, what can one do?,” to which Sermon responds, “Whateva’ she said, then I’m that.”” < Elliot Powell

While Powell suggests that the White orientalist gaze has to be decoupled from the African-American orientalist gaze he still substantiates these critiques. Powell recognises some of the problems.

Of course it has problems.

Using the female-presenting body and voice as an essentialising tool while also minimizing/invisibilizing the labour of the South Asian body < exoticising, homogenising etc etc > Marking South Asian culture as an empty form > a type of commodity that has to have its meaning by-passed because of its illegibility “whateva she said, then I’m that, if this here rocks to y’all then react!”

Powell does not deny these critiques but does complicate them.

He does so by recounting the fact that a year before the release of React, Erick Sermon himself had an alleged suicide attempt.

Powell notes how difficult it was for him to admit it and how he had dissociated from the events that left him in the hospital recovering from various wounds.

One year later, Erick Sermon and Redman are hanging out at the studio and Redman plays a CD of Just Blaze beats. Erick Sermon feels that he doesn’t have a big single on his upcoming album.

There was no conversation between producer and emcee, Erick Sermon just heard the beat and decided that it was the one.

He was immediately struck by it and the next time producer Just Blaze heard the song, it was already a smash hit on the radio.

Powell invokes queer theory and cites this as an example of ‘queer temporalities’, conversations caught between time, unwittingly had, unknowingly needed.

“In the field of rap, I’m superb, I’m fly
I should be in the sky with birds”
Erick Sermon, React

MAIN THREAD RETRIEVED!

Phew.

Long time-ways from the 12th century sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalander.

But perhaps not > Lal was also known to be ‘fly, in the sky with birds’.

Here is a closing anthem from Qawwali singer Faiz Ali Faiz in homage to the legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who is being readied for further research. The image below shows a flying Laal Shahbaz Qalander who is often likened to a red falcon.

The story of 12th century saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is on pause but set to continue > it’s an incredible story of syncretic religious traditions, long-lasting spiritual practices and it is our link to Amir Khusro < famous South Asian poet and inventor of the tabla > it is our link also to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and straight through to the heart of the South Asia diaspora.

Towards a Transgender Spiritual Universe

Chapter 2 – A spiritual Universe
‘The symbols that men use, masks, colours, numbers, names, and metaphors, all link up with the desired object; they are not dead symbols.’ pg26
‘The Material and the spiritual are intertwined, the former as a vehicle of the latter’ pg27
“The African sees these ritual observances as the supreme safeguard of the basic needs of his existence and of the basic relations that make up his social order…” pg27

Creating the spiritual universe of “Trumu Fetish” finds its footing in these two quotes. It is worth noting that this view is patriarchal, and I am searching for a transgender view and experience of African Spirituality. I aim to create rituals that safeguard the transgender experience and its spirituality-ladened body.

awash with the watch

The tabla remains an image, a motif of dislocation for me. When I experience others playing it with such verve and knowledge I am transported. I find the rhythms intoxicating and the sounds to be full and complete in their expression.

As a vocalist, I hear a quiet challenge. Can I speak over these rhythms? Would it be an act of magical place-making? Magical relocating of the unrooted postcolonial body? Am I returning forward? Am I just traveling the planes of my Western privilege and taking without knowing?

These are specific folk rhythms with their own long histories of which I am coolly unaware. These sounds are not mine.

The tabla is the first musical instrument I have any memory of. Sitting in the corner of my aunties house. These sounds are also mine.

Should I simply let it sit in my ears and enjoy it as I do. That for now is the only certainty.