July 13, 2016

Today at the Art Department, we are pleased to present an introduction to the theory of Black Quantum Futurism by the collaborative duo BQF Collective (Camae Defstar and Rasheedah Phillips). Read on to find out how you can manipulate space-time, plus a convincing case for thinking with an indigenous African concept of time:

Black Quantum Futurism (BQF)* is a new approach to living and experiencing reality by way of the manipulation of space-time in order to see into possible futures and/or collapse space-time into a desired future in order to bring about that future’s reality. This vision and practice derives its facets, tenets, and qualities from quantum physics, futurist traditions, and Black/African cultural traditions of consciousness, time, and space. At the point where these three traditions collide, exists a creative plane that allows for the ability of African-descended people to actually see “into,” create, or choose the impending future. From a multiplicity of possible futures, a practice of BQF allows a visionary to see into the future with clarity, seize upon a vision of one particular future of your choosing, alter, shift, or shape it, then collapse it into your existing reality. It is the inheritance of a BQF Practitioner to manipulate time, see into the future, and bring that future about.

Why BQF over the present state of reality? Because a linear mode of time, which dominates time consciousness in Western society does not allow access to information about the future and only limited information about the past. The ways in which we are situated in time comes to be reflected in how we think about, talk about, and conceptualize the community, world, and universe around us. In a linear conception of time, which is built into our language, behavior, and thought, the past is fixed and the future is inaccessible until it passes through the present. The present moment is fleeting, but ever-present. Time’s asymmetrical, uni-directional quality, however, is not an inherent or a priori feature of nature. It only appears this way because we have learned to order and make sense of the world this way.

BQF is a new experience of time consciousness that binds modern day physics, ancient African time consciousness, and conceptual notions of futurism. Through Black Quantum Futurism we can increase the “knowability” of the future and the past by treating both modes of time as formally equivalent. This practice develops foresight and hindsight by studying features of time, sources of change, rhythms and patterns in larger social patterns, as well as patterns in our personal spheres of experience in order to map out our Black Quantum Futures. Time is change, and to see into the future is merely to anticipate what changes will occur, and what patterns will re-occur. BQF Practitioners work to consciously subvert the strict chronological hierarchal characteristic of linear time.

BQF is a means of exploring and developing modes and practices of spatiotemporal consciousness that would be more beneficial to marginalized peoples’ survival in a “high-tech” world currently dominated by oppressive linear time constructs. In crafting new communal temporal dynamics that can function, BQF is developing and enacting a new spatiotemporal consciousness. BQF theory, vision, and practice explores the intersections of quantum physics, futurism, and Black/African cultural space-time traditions. Under a BQF intersectional time orientation, the past and future are not cut off from the present – both dimensions have influence over the whole of our lives, who we are and who we become at any particular point in space-time. Our position from the present creates what that past and future looks like, what it means at every moment. We determine what meaning and what relationships both dimensions of time have to our present moment.

The etymology of the word “future” itself admits this kind of relationship. The word future, by definition, designates a time period or temporal space that is not now, one that is situated ahead (or before) us, and distinctive from times that lie behind (or before) the one we are currently situated in. Etymologically, future developed out of the Old French word futur in the late 14th century, and meant “a time after the present,” or “that which is yet to be.” Futur can be further traced back to the Latin futurus, via the stem fu-, (to grow or become), which is the future participle of the word esse, to be. Oxford Dictionary notes that “both esse, to be, and futur, to become, share “be” at their root.” This may explain why the word “before” can both denote an event that has already passed and is now in the past, or an event that has not yet happened. This one way linearity does not lie at the root of the words “before” or “future.”

Space-Time Collapse I - BQF Collective

Space-Time Collapse I – BQF Collective

BQF Modes and Principles of Practice

One of the essential qualities of BQF allowing for future visioning, altering, and manifestation is the phenomenon of “retrocausality,” or backwards causation where the effect precedes the cause. An example of retrocausality in quantum physics is an entangled particle sending a wave backward in time to the moment when the entangled pair was created. The signal is not moving faster than the speed of light; instead, it is retracing the first article’s path through space-time and arriving back at the point where the two particles were first emitted. The wave is interacting with the second particle without violating relativity. Under this principle, the present state of the particle depends on both the future and the past measurement. Under a theory of retrocausal time, humanity has reached back to create the very conditions that govern our present universe.


Open time-like curves at the quantum level. Image Source: Daily Galaxy.

Mirroring the principle of retrocausality, the creative futures activated from a BQF perspective automatically reach back to redefine the present and past. A BQF Practitioner exploits the fact that the future can alter the present and the present can alter the past. Cause is not presupposed or inferred. When a possible future is envisioned, foreseen, or chosen by a BQF Practitioner, that future will instantaneously reshape its relationship to the past. In quantum physics, the instantaneous reshaping corresponds to the principle of quantum entanglement.

– What changes in the future will be required to arrive at a present or a past state?

– What changes in the far future will be required to manifest a near future state?

With retrocausality, we work back from the future to the past, which requires purpose and finality, where the purpose of any occurrence or interaction is to effect the future state. BQF Practitioners reach in before the moment/nanosecond of collapse when future reaches back to blend into the present.


Voodoo Loa Cards by Ula Fish

Indigenous African cultural traditions of time and space mirror this principal precisely. In some of those cultural traditions, time flows backwards toward you from the future. Some African religious systems also incorporate notions of retrocausality, where, for example, an Orisha (a type of god common to southern Nigeria and in various black religious contexts throughout South America and the Caribbean) or a Loa (spirit of Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo) emerges from a higher state of consciousness and reaches back or down into local reality. In general, an indigenous African time consciousness has a backwards linearity, in that when events occur, they immediately move backward towards Zamani, or macrotime.

In many indigenous African cultures and spiritual traditions, time can be created, is independent of events, and is not real until experienced. From this time perspective, time is composed of events, while days, months, and years are just a graphic or numerical representation of those events. In his worksheet A Comparison of the Western and African Concepts of Time, Bert Hamminga notes “we have to compare the Western linear dead physical timeline (with ‘past,’ ‘future’ and a regularly moving ‘now’) with the African “living time”. Indigenous African notions of time were generally connected to natural events, such as rainfall and the rising and setting of the sun, or saw time as a natural rhythm or pacing, such as the time it takes you to walk from one place to another. Such an experience of time has such features as “concern for details of the event, regardless of time required; exhaustive consideration of a problem until resolved; and emphasis on present experience rather than the past or future.” (Hamminga).

Rasheedah4Future events are situated in a potential time, until experienced or actualized. Those events do not depend on some specific clock time or calendar date for their manifestation. Instead, time depends on the quality of the event and the person experiencing it. Once the future event is experienced, it instantaneously moves backward into the present and past dimensions. Those two dimensions bear the most ontological significance, where “a person experiences time partly in his own individual life, and partly through the society which goes back many generations before his own birth,” according to philosopher and author of African Religions and Philosophy, Dr. John S. Mbiti.

  • Sharswood, North Philadelphia, courtesy of Community Futures Lab: a project that applies BQF Theory and practice to the events of redevelopment and gentrification experienced by this community.


Mechanics of Event Building and BQF Mapping

With BQF event building, events can be built from scratch. BQF Practitioners believe that at each point in space-time lies an enfolded potential of events. There are infinite space-time points, first activated by a birth event and continuing along the natural timeline. Space-times can be divided into smaller or larger intervals, or even redefined non-mathematically, as opposed to the 1 second by 1 second linear mode of time that defines the rate at which we move into the future.

BQF event mapping is the creation of a living map upon which a BQF Practitioner can exert a controlling influence over personal experiences and personal time consciousness, as a means of creating our own order and pattern in the universe, or unfolding and enhancing the patterns already present. BQF event mapping uses the principles mentioned in the previous section (future visioning, altering, and manifestation) to intuitively map out an alternative timeline. For a BQF Practitioner, the next moment can be built up, step-by-step, created by you, created from your own meanings, connections, relationships, hand-chosen and interwoven into the pattern of recurrence/non-recurrence. Time and space need not be pre-determined from pre-existing conditions. New configurations of time and space can be created simply by shifting relationships and their meanings.

Time model
With BQF event mapping, the shape of the timeline/worldline may look something like circles within circles or spiral shaped, for example, representing recurrent events, synchronous events, and quantum connections. Through this method of mapping, memory is not attached to a specific calendar date or clock time, and memories are not formed in regard to a specific date or time. Rather, time and date are made a part of the memory, so it is embedded or weaved in and controllable in future memory. You can choose a date as a part of your memory, allowing you to forecast or backcast events. Time becomes something remembered, not something that defines and predates the memory.

Using this method of mapping events, BQF Practitioners have the ability to effect distant states either directly or indirectly via an influence on the future factors upon which those states depend. It recognizes that the present state depends on both the future and the past measurement. Backwards causation is simply a rearrangement or reassignment of causation with macro events and macro detail details.

These events form a grouping pattern around the focal point as if the focal point behaved as a magnet which attracted certain events. Events do not have to be causally associated in the normal linear sense of cause and effect. The events express a quality of time in a now moment, with time simply being one quality of many that expresses a meaningful pattern. For this form of event mapping, BQF Practitioners determine the center of the field, the uniting factor and synchronicity around which certain events will be grouped. Events, here again, can be defined liberally and can include macro-level events, micro-level events, emotional/psychical events, psychological and cognitive events, and sensory experience events, to name a few. The BQF Practitioner becomes the active agent in the synchronicity/focal point, instead of time being the active agent defining the synchronicity.

graph 4 p27


BQF Visual Astrolabe from Black Quantum Futurism on Vimeo.

  • Untitled, digital collage, courtesy BQF Collective

*This text is an excerpt from the longer essay called Constructing a Theory and Practice of Black Quantum Futurism, Pt. 1. It can be found inside the book Black Quantum Futurism Theory & Practice Vol. 1.


Bergson, Henri. Mind Energy: Lectures and Essays (1920) Ed. H. Wildon Carr. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2009.

Bohm, David. Unfolding Meaning: A Weekend of Dialogue with David Bohm. Routledge, revised ed. edition, 1996.

Bynum, Edward Bruce. The African Unconscious: Roots of Ancient Mysticism and Modern Psychology. Cosimo Books, 2012.

Dohrn-Van Rossum, Gerard. History of the Hour: Clocks and Modern Temporal Orders. Translator Thomas Dunlap. The University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Dossey, Larry. Space, Time, and Medicine. Shambhala, 1982.

Hamminga, Bert. A Comparison of the Western and African Concepts of Time. online, 2005.

Koestler, Arthur. The Roots of Coincidence. Vintage, 1973.

Mbiti, John S. African Religions and Philosophy. Heinemann Educational Publishers, second edition, 1990.

Silagadze, Z.K. “LHC card games: bringing about retrocausality?.” Relativity, Gravitation, Cosmology: Foundations. Nova Science Publishers, 2016: pp. 89-100.

Von Franz, Maria. On Divination and Synchronicity: the Psychology of Meaningful Chance Studies in Jungian Psychology. Inner City Books, 2015.


Black Quantum Futurism Collective is a multidisciplinary collaboration between Camae Defstar (Rockers!; MMGZ) and Rasheedah Phillips (The AfroFuturist Affair; Metropolarity) exploring the intersections of futurism, creative media, DIY-aesthetics, and activism in marginalized communities through an alternative temporal lens. BQF Collective is inspired by afrofuturism, quantum physics, and african traditions of spatial-temporal consciousness. They weave science fiction realities with african concepts of time, ritual and sound to present innovative works that offer practical ways to escape time loops, oppression vortexes and the digital matrix. BQF Collective has created a number of community-based events, experimental music projects (ANTI-KY-THE/RA released on Deep White Sound label), zines (NonLocality Series; Sun Ra, Synchronicity, and Superposition), and an anthology of experimental essays on space-time consciousness called Black Quantum Futurism: Theory & Practice Vol. 1 (featured in the Unveiling Visions exhibition at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). BQF Collective is a 2016 A Blade of Grass Fellow, 2015 artist-in-residence at West Philadelphia Neighborhood Time Exchange, and had their experimental short, Black Bodies as Conductors of Gravity, premiere at the 2015 Afrofuturism Now! Festival in Rotterdam. BQF has presented, exhibited, or performed at Stony Island Arts Bank,  WORM! Rotterdam, Live Worms Gallery, Temple Contemporary, and more.

This article is part of the Prophecies theme by the Art Department. For the next quarter we will be publishing articles by researchers, writers and artists that explore the relations between art and predictions of the future. BQF Collective member, Rasheedah Phillips has additionally been an Advisor for the Prophecies theme. 

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