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About Cube Fest

Welcome to the fifth annual Cube Fest! Presented by Virginia Tech’s ICAT (Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology) and the Moss Arts Center, Cube Fest is an international festival designed to present music created for high-density loudspeaker arrays (HDLAs), utilizing the 140-loudspeaker HDLA installed in the Cube at the Moss Arts Center. Cube Fest 2021 is both the best available experience that can be provided in 2021, and also a bridge to the full experience of this program that will be presented in 2022. Cube Fest was first presented in 2016 with the goal of advancing the accessibility of music created for HDLAs. With HDLA systems still being few and far between, Cube Fest is an important platform for inviting artists to realize their spatial audio visions in a unique HDLA performance environment and to share their creations with the public.

Cube Fest 2021 presents the Sound of Space: An Interactive Afrofuturist Experience, a multi-sensory installation presented live in the Cube, along with the work of six Afrofuturist artists selected from an international pool of submissions. Sound of Space was created in the Cube by undergraduate and graduate students at Virginia Tech. The students were enrolled in Tyechia Thompson’s class Afrofuturism to Vibranium and Beyond and worked with technicians in the Cube to configure their intellectual mixtapes for a public audience for their midterm presentation. The Afrofuturist artists Jupiter Blue (DmHotep and Tara Jupiter Girl Blue), King Britt, Shannon Sea, Stephen James Taylor, and Yvette Janine Jackson are internationally renowned; their works are featured. 

Afrofuturism is a concept, philosophy, and artist practice that was coined in 1993 in Mark Dery’s “Black to the Future,” but its experience precedes 1993. It can be traced to the W.E.B. DuBois’s short fiction work The Comet published in 1920, and it is also represented in African American folktales of Africans in captivity in America flying back to Africa. Perhaps the earliest overt expression of Afrofuturism in music surfaces in the project of Sun Ra and his Arkestra, starting in the early 1950s. Cube Fest honors Sun Ra with a spatial presentation in the Cube of his path-breaking album Space is the Place in 2022.

The disruptions of Covid-19 forced the cancellation of Cube Fest 2020 and led to a rethinking of the presentation mode for the 2021 and 2022 festivals. Sound in Space: An Interactive Afrofuturist Experience will be presented in-person in 2021 and excerpts from the Afrofuturist works from the Cube Fest program have been prepared as a binaural experience for headphone listening. These works and others will be presented at Cube Fest 2022 as in-person experiences that fully realize the artists’ visions.