Futurhythm Machines: Chicago House Music

May 11, 2024 | 12:00-20:00 | Watershed Art & Ecology, 1821 S Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

Part of the Future Rhythm Machines project

Thanks to drum machines, sound systems, repurposed warehouses and basements, 1980s Chicago House Music opened up a future that was black, brown and queer. DJs invented new ways of keeping and marking time in community. In the years since, computation has made music-making more accessible. What kinds of collectivities are still to come?

Combining complementary modes of thinking, making, and performing, Futurhythmachines: House (FRM:House) is a daylong public event organized during the BADS_lab, featuring a DIY synthesizer workshop, a panel discussion, and a DIY synth performance + reception.

FRM:House will reflect on social forms, expressive technics, and musical experience through Chicago House Music, discovering therein an art of forming fugitive publics and a science of probing sonic ecologies.


12:00DIY Synth Workshop
4:00Panel Discussion w. Thomas DeFrantz, Meida McNeal, and Duane Powell
6:00Reception w DJ girly***

DIY Synth Workshop

Participants will receive one of three small synthesizers we designed as a set of Chicago house music machines. In the workshop, we will focus on musical interactions between modules. This means that with a friend, you can team up to create a more robust musical landscape.

Although we’ll provide some starter software for CCAM EARTH, it is built around a microcontroller called Daisy Seed. This means it’s reprogrammable and in the future you can upload code written in a number of different languages, including Max/MSP Gen~, Arduino and more. We hope to build community around the sharing of software for this platform.

Spots are limited to 15, and a registration of $25 dollars will hold you spot (subsidized generously by our sponsors below).

Register Here

We have 5 sponsored spots for black folks and people of color; please reach out directly if that is of interest to you hello@ccam.world.


BADS_lab organizer Muindi Fanuel Muindi (philosopher & poet) will moderate a panel with Dr. Thomas DeFrantz (black social dance historian & technology theorist), DJ Duane Powell (House DJ & music historian), and Meida McNeal (multi-disciplinary performance artist & critical ethnographer) to discuss the sonic and social architectures of Chicago House and their surrounds. The panel discussion will situate Chicago House within a long lineage of antiphonal experiments in the Black Arts that have gathered people in movement and in apposition to prevailing paradigms of capture, control, and containment.

Following the workshop and panel discussion, organizers at CCAM and the Fyrthyr invite the public to join them for bites, refreshments, music, and critical conversations inspired by the day’s proceedings. You are also invited to learn more about the projects and missions of CCAM and the Fyrthyr and to get involved.

Reception DJ is girly***, a BADSlab fellow.


This event will seed our first FRM publication, which will include a transcription of the panel, DIY synth instructions, and writings on Chicago House Music’s legacy in black music, technology, and sociality by invited authors to be published in December 2024.


This program is supported by Hyde Park Art Center’s Artists Run Chicago Fund in partnership with Art Design Chicago, a citywide collaboration initiated by the Terra Foundation for American Art that highlights the city’s artistic heritage and creative communities.

FRM: Chicago House is also supported by Watershed Art & Ecology and Electro-Smith.


Thomas DeFrantz

Directs SLIPPAGE: Performance|Culture|Technology, group explores emerging technology in live performance applications. Believes in our shared capacity to do better and engage creative spirit for a collective good that is anti-racist, proto-feminist, and queer affirming.

Meida McNeal

Meida Teresa McNeal is the Director of Honey Pot Performance, an Afro-feminist collective dedicated to critical performance and public humanities. Recent projects include ways of knowing (2019), a performance and media project exploring systems of knowledge production that premiered at Experimental Station in November 2019 and The Chicago Black Social Culture Map (2019), an online map, community archiving, and live program series exploring Chicago’s Black social lineage from the Great Migration to the present, which included 6 programs across the city’s South, West, and North sides.

Duane Powell

Duane Powell is a Chicago-based music historian, DJ, promoter, and tastemaker. In the 1980s, Powell was one of the most important promoters in the Chicago House music scene. As a promoter, he launched the SOUNDROTATION brand in 1999, further cultivating the underground soul scene in Chicago. As a historian, Powell created the interactive lecture series Rear View Mirror Sessions at UChicago Arts, Stanford University, Detroit Institute Of Arts and Chicago Public Library. Powell has held residencies at the House Of Blues, Virgin Hotel, Museum Of Contemporary Art and Navy Pier. He is a program partner with the Rebuild Foundation as well as a board member of the Frankie Knuckles Foundation.

Futurhythm Machines Synthesis Team

Juan Eduardo Flores

Juan Flores is an artist and technologist interested in motion and sound as a way of exploring the relationship between control and entropy. He is interested in stress testing systems, whether minimal or complex, investigating the transformations that happen during the process of getting from point A to point B.

Kim Nucci

Kim Nucci is a Chicago-based media artist, composer, and technologist. As a musician, they perform on electronics, modular synthesizer, and saxophone and create interactive installations using architectural interventions, sculpture, arduino and other microcontrollers as a visual and sound artist.


Art Design Chicago

An initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art in partnership with artists and organizations across the city, Art Design Chicago is a series of events and exhibitions that highlight the city’s artistic heritage and creative communities.

Artist Run Chicago Fund

Artists Run Chicago Fund is a unique regranting initiative that has provided more than 1 million dollars in support to artist-run platforms since 2020, infusing Chicago’s contemporary art network with flexible, unrestricted financial support to strengthen their diverse and experimental programs.

Watershed art and ecology

Watershed's mission is to create openings for discussions of the current human predicaments: societal, environmental, economic, and racial. Defining both art and ecology beyond standard expectations, they present programs and exhibits that address our relations with each other and with the natural environment. Through biocultural experiences of place – “watersheds” – they seek emergent ecological knowledge.


Electrosmith is on a mission to make the world sound better.


Muindi Fanuel Muindi

Muindi Fanuel Muindi is a performance artist, philosopher, and poet, with Lacustrine Bantu roots in the Rift Forests of Eastern Congo and the Mara Wetlands in Tanzania. He is the author of six books of experimental poetry and prose.

Garrett Laroy Johnson

Garrett Laroy Johnson is a Chicago-based sound and media artist, researcher, and theorist. His transdisciplinary work engages Guattarian process theory, politics and the production of subjectivity, computation and materialism, and post-psychoanalysis.

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