“SEEDY SPACE PORTS AND COLONY PLANETS:
Asian Conical Hats in Cinematic Dystopias”
Visual essay, online and in print
Collage (in collaboration with Caroline Washington), online and in print
Commissioned by Seen journal from BlackStar Festival, guest edited by Dessane Lopez Cassell
A visual essay on the history of the ancient Asian technology, the conical hat; how one variation from the Philippines became the basis for the pith helmet, now a symbol of colonialism; and how white filmmakers, television showrunners, and their costume designers ubiquitously use the traditional headpieces to depict an alarmingly Asian future.
Accompanied by a collage created by Astria Suparak and Caroline Washington, with source imagery from historical prints, photographs, illustrations, and artifacts from the early 1700s to the 20th century.
Seedy Space Ports and Colony Planets is part of Suparak’s ongoing research project, Asian futures, without Asians — a taxonomy of how white mainstream filmmakers depict future worlds that are Asian-inflected, while simultaneously sidelining or disappearing the progenitors of those diverse Asian cultures. The project, which draws from the histories of art, architecture, design, fashion, film, food, and weaponry, will be unveiled throughout 2021 in various forms, including digital projects, illustrated presentations, and visual essays, presented by contemporary art institutions, a science-fiction festival, a film journal, and other organizations.