Future Rhythm Machines

Future rhythm Machines

The music of Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra, of Underground Resistance and George Russell, of Tricky and Martina, comes from the Outer Side. It alienates itself from the human; it arrives from the future. Alien Music is a synthetic recombinator, an applied art technology for amplifying the rates of becoming alien. Optimize the ratios of excentricity. Synthesize yourself. - Kodwo Eshun, More Brilliant Than the Sun (1998)

Futurhythmachines turn the extended capability of machines into super sensory powers. - Kodwo Eshun, More Brilliant Than the Sun (1998)

Contemporary discourse around historical electronic music forms such as Chicago house or Detroit techno correctly flag the whitewashing of these musical forms’ black and queer genealogies. By misattributing the origins of house music to white Europeans like David Guetta, we indeed cheat musicians’ like Derrick Carter, Frankie Knuckles, and Ron Hardy of their due credit while flattening the historical, material, social, and racial contexts. The repercussions of this anti-black and anti-queer erasure not only acts upon our historical recounting of the past, but our ability to conceive of musical gatherings’ future potential for radical rupture. In the era of the billion-dollar-a-year EDM festival industry, Chicago House cannot be re-imagined as a “humble beginning” but rather a model for contemporary collectivities to come.

To this end, our event asks: What can the history of Chicago House teach us about Future Rhythm Machines? In both workshop and panel we focus on the material, social, and technical particularities of Chicago house (the synthesizers and drum machines of the time and place, the spaces that hosted the parties and transportation modes, the music industry in that historical moment) to draw together a musical map for the future.

FRM:House is the first part of a larger investigation into the mode(s) of existence of Black electronic musical productions during the second half of the twentieth century to the present day.

During this period, “rhythm & blues” musics yielded (to) “drum & bass” musics as the “non-events” of emancipation, decolonization, and desegregation gave way to “New Jim Crows”, “Border Imperialisms”, and “Global Apartheids”. These concatenations of colonial racial capitalist apparatuses of administration have, in turn, been conditioned by containerized logistics, just-in-time production lines, and digital identification and surveillance technologies that aim to “integrate hundreds of millions of individuals and billions of discrete objects and desires into a single (im-)mobility-system, where every movement is coordinated with every other in real time by [machine intelligence].”

Black electronic dance musics extrapolate from the “just-in-time” of containerized logistics and digital surveillance alternative rhythms of pleasure and expressions of bodies in free-play that are contradictory and appositional to the paradigms of profiling and policing that define contemporary forms of colonial racial capitalism.

As Dhanveer Singh Brar notes in his study of twenty-first century Black electronic dance musics Tekville, Ghettolife, Eski, “as projects undertaken during urban crises, and as sounds assembled in immediate contact with their audiences, [Black electronic dance musics] needed to organize places where people could regularly gather in movement”. As such, Black electronic music producers have engaged in hybrid art combining what the philosopher/technologist Sha Xin Wei calls “media choreography” with what the poet fahima ife calls “maroon choreography”.

Iterations of this project will include the following:

  • Futurhythm Machines: The Origins of the Soundsystem (Kingston)
  • Futurhythm Machines: From Hip-Hop to Electrofunk (New York)
  • Futurhythm Machines: House (Chicago)
  • Futurhythm Machines: Techno (Detroit)
  • Futurhythm Machines: Jungle (Bristol/London)
  • Futurhythm Machines: Baile Funk (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Futurhythm Machines: Trap (Atlanta)
  • Futurhythm Machines: Footwork/Juke (Chicago)
  • Futurhythm Machines: Grime (East London)
  • Futurhythm Machines: From Kwaito, Gqom, Amapiano (Johannesburg/Durban)
  • Futurhythm Machines: Singeli (Dar es Salaam)

FRM is also exploring connections with permacomputational thinking and making.


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.


Lee Tusman

Lee Tusman 👽 is a New York-based new media 🎨💻 artist, educator and organizer applying the radical ethos of collectives 👩🏿‍🏭 👨🏼‍🎤 🧑🏿‍🎨 👩🏻‍🔬 👨‍👨‍👧‍👧 and DIY culture 🧷 to the creation of, aesthetics, and open-source distribution methods 🖨️ of digital culture. He uses code ⌨️, collage ✂️, sound 🎶 and text 📝. His works are installations 🗑 , interactive media 📑, video art 📹, experimental games 🎮, sound art 🔊, websites 🌐, bots 🤖 and micro-power radio stations📡.

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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

Associated Programs


Futurhythm Machines: Chicago House Music

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

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