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Dubship I – Black Starliner

Ralph Borland

1974 - Present

Dubship I – Black Starliner

2019
Mixed media
Dimension variable

An African Robots vs SPACECRAFT project. By Ralph Borland with Jason Stapleton, Lewis Kaluzi, Farai Magirimani, and Wellington Moyo. Thanks to Eden Labs for their support.

This project was funded by the National Arts Council of South Africa.

One hundred years ago, the Black Star Line was established by Marcus Garvey as a black-owned shipping line with the aim of repatriating the descendants of African slaves.

Fifty years later, the singer Fred Locks recorded the dub track ‘Black Star Liner’. Dub emerged in 1960s Jamaica through new technologies for manipulating sound, reproduced through huge sound systems at dancehall parties. It has been hugely influential on electronic music production and popular music.

In conjuring imaginary spaces through sound, dub embraces imagery of space travel. This electro-mechanical musical sculpture, Dubship I – Black Starliner – produced by many hands and covering a wide range of digital and hand-processes, including VR sculpting, street wire art, and interactive electronics – takes these elements to produce its own ‘version’ of an imagined spacecraft. This ‘Dubship’ operates not between the continents of Earth, but into space and between stars. It speaks of a desire for return or a new home which is both rooted in the African diasporic experience, and more universal – the desire for a refuge, a homeland; a transportation through technology.

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