Multidisciplinary artist Saul Williams and Rwandan artist Anisa Uzeyman use the coltan mines in the hills of Burundi as a springboard to embark on an ambitious DIY sci-fi musical, Neptune Frost.
Neptune Frost toys with heady ideas of colonialism, politics, history, tradition and gender fluidity in the era of Internet communication and global commerce. Instead of relying on techno-jargon to explain away the ills of society, the film instead shoots for poetic dialog, singing and rapping infused with multiple languages, and a soundscape steeped in African tradition. Always moving the camera and using vibrant colors — Uzeyman serves as a director of photography — along with stunning set and costume design by Cedric Mizero, the film captures the energy and resourcefulness of the African art community.
The details and care that is put into the project is astounding. Clothing is covered in various alphabetical letters from computer keyboards and other electronics parts, representing the scraps from the end of tech’s cycle that began with the coltan mines on the same continent. Use of blacklight paints and recycled bicycle wheels on mystics, and artful copper wires extending from people’s hair and make-up, are further examples of placing layers upon layers of texture and subtext. It would take multiple viewings to absorb the whole world created by Williams and Uzeyman, and their team.
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