The Beautiful Others: Alien Forms
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The Beautiful Others: Alien Forms

I've been thinking a lot about the depictions of aliens in Afrofuturism, and sci-fi at large. Growing up with the familiar, sanitized "human-aliens" of Star Trek, I wonder if humans can truly comprehend what it means to see, and understand, the alien form.

In this newsletter, I explore how artists represent the alien form, both in and out of our comfort zone.

The Otherworldly Creatures of Robotpencil

a strange blue and gray alien portrait
Anthony Jones, or @Robotpencil, is a concept artist and educator based in California. His Instagram is full or strange humanoid beasts. The shapes, limbs, and tones are vaguely human, but differ in curious and sometimes grotesque ways. Viewing his work, I wonder if this unsettling feeling will stay with us as we meet other races in the stars.

Going AWOL to Protect Earth from Aliens

A colonial space marine with an alien standing behind her
Aliens: Defiance #1 Variant Cover
For the 30th Anniversary of Aliens, the artist Sachin Teng worked with Dark Horse Comics on a cover for Aliens: Defiance. It follows the story of Colonial Marine Private First Class Zula Hendricks. She goes AWOL to protect Earth from an unknown alien species that’s been discovered on on a derelict hauler. 

Teng's Tumblr has much more work, in that signature style.

Masks as Stories

a rope and cloth mask from Bertjan Pot
Without much comment an illustration from the instagram of designer Brahim Azizi.

Jue Kali- the Builders of Nairobi

woman's portrait with electronics - photo montage

JUA KALI is Swahili for “Fierce Sun” – referring to the informal labourers that worked under the hot sun, often forced by circumstance to create work that is substandard. The artist Tahir Carl Karmali wants to change this perception- in reality, the Jua Kali workers are the fuel for the city of Nairobi. Rather than being aliens to the African metropolis, they are its creators.

Each Portrait describes a personality that has created a surreal self-image to fit in Nairobi’s Jua Kali world. The images are created to look as if one adorned themselves with found objects, which somehow work together to make them superhuman.
What do we see in the faces of aliens, or in the faces of people we call aliens? Do we crave a glimpse of their humanity, or reject them out because of their perceived differences? In this age of convulsive nativism and nationalism, we must claim other humans as our own, regardless of what star they were born under.

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