“ON THE NEON HORIZON“
Video, 8:27 minutes (with English text)
Commissioned by BlackFlash Expanded
On the Neon Horizon is a short video essay that takes one of the world-building tics of white science fiction — gratuitous signage in Asian languages — to consider its utopian potential and dystopian applications.
Fantastical mise en scène, breathtaking B-roll footage, and special effects deliriums from four decades of mainstream sci-fi by white American, Australian, Canadian, European, and New Zealander filmmakers craft an insidiously Asian futurescape — sometimes achieved by simply shooting in a present-day Asian country or a North American Chinatown. In aggregate, these productions inextricably tether non-white cultures to criminality and contagion, portraying Asian cultures and people as existential threats to white Western ideas of freedom. Prominent signage in Chinese and Japanese (stand-ins for some of America and Canada’s oldest scapegoats), as well as in Arabic, Hindi, Korean, and Thai, from more than a dozen futuristic movies and TV shows, provide copious examples of the racism embedded in and promoted by Hollywood.
On the Neon Horizon was commissioned by BlackFlash Expanded and is part of Astria Suparak’s ongoing research project, Asian futures, without Asians, which is 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.
- Asian futures, without Asians (presentation)
- Virtually Asian
- For Ornamental Purposes
- “Asian futures, without Asians” multipart research series, which includes videos, installations, collages, essays, publications, and other projects
- Check out the posts tagged #scifi