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  1. Bracken, Christopher, “The Language of things: Walter Benjamin’s primitive thought,” 1
  2. Henry Spalding, Encyclopedia of Black Folklore and Humor, 22
  3. Originally said to me and fellow classmates by a physical computing professor at New York University
  4. Originally said by Sol Cabrini de la Ciudad in a class taught by Fred Moten at New York University
  5. Elizabeth Landau, “Tech Confronts Its Use of the Labels ‘Master’ and ‘Slave’” (Wired 2020)
  6. A riff on Édouard Glissant
  7. Contribution from @bigflowersworld on Twitter
  8. A riff on S*an Henry
  9. A riff on Fred Moten
  10. From a cybernetic systems theory diagram by way of Melanie Hoff’s Code Societies
  11. A riff on Fred Moten
  12. Simone Browne, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, 9


Master “I am a master of my craft.”

  1. one who has power to control, use, or dispose (of something or some quality) at will
  2. a man who has people working for him, especially servants or slaves
  3. a man in charge of an organization or group
  4. chief, head, director, teacher
  5. having or showing very great skill or proficiency
  6. acquire complete knowledge or skill in (an accomplishment, technique, or art)
  7. gain control of; overcome

Master race race of people considered to be pre-eminent in greatness or power

Slave “He was a slave to his vices.”

  1. a person who is the chattel or legal property of another and is forced to obey them
  2. one who has lost the power of resistance to some habit or vice
  3. work excessively hard

Slave driver "He was an old slave driver."

  1. cruel or exacting task-master

Slaver “The Brookes slave ship is one of the first documented slavers.”

  1. ship in the slave trade
  2. person in the slave trade

Slavery “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

  1. severe toil, hard work, drudgery
  2. state of servitude

Captive “The slave ran away from captivity.”

  1. a person who has been taken prisoner or an animal that has been confined

Capture “Capture the audio.”

  1. take into one’s possession or control by force or stratagem
  2. the action of capturing or of being captured
  3. win by ingenuity or skill

Cut “Cut the footage.”

  1. make an opening, incision, or wound in (something) with a sharp-edged tool or object
  2. a stroke or blow given by a sharp-edged implement or by a switch or cane

Dispose “Dispose of the footage.”

  1. get rid of by throwing away or giving or selling to someone else
  2. bring (someone) into a particular frame of mind

Drive “Hard drive the slaves.”

  1. propel or carry along by force in a specified direction
  2. an innate, biologically determined urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need

Hard drive “Upload the files to the hard drive.”

  1. a high-capacity, self-contained storage device containing a read-write mechanism plus one or more hard disks, inside a sealed unit. Also called hard disk drive
  2. internal or external hardware component that stores digital data (documents, images, music, videos, programs, applications and operating systems

Execute “Execute the program.”

  1. to carry out fully; put completely into effect
  2. to make or produce (something, such as a work of art) especially by carrying out a design
  3. to put to death especially in compliance with a legal sentence

Export “Export the assets.”

  1. send (goods or services) to another country for sale
  2. a commodity, article, or service sold abroad
  3. to carry out, bring out; send away

Manipulate “Manipulate the code.”

  1. handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner
  2. control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously

Record “The record needs to be mastered.”

  1. a thing constituting a piece of evidence about the past, especially an account kept in writing or some other permanent form
  2. the sum of the past achievements or actions of a person or organization; a person or thing’s previous conduct or performance
  3. set down in writing or some other permanent form for later reference, especially officially
  4. convert (sound or a performance) into permanent form for later reproduction

Shoot “Shoot the footage.”

  1. to throw or cast off or out often with force

Store “The files are stored on the drive.”

  1. a quantity or supply of something kept for use as needed
  2. keep or accumulate (something) for future use

Stow “Stow the slaves.”

  1. pack or store (an object) carefully and neatly in a particular place
  2. to cram, pack up close

Switch “Switch the computer off.”

  1. bough, twig, long thin stick
  2. device for changing the direction of something or making or breaking a connection
  3. beat or flick with or as if with a switch

Upload “Upload the files.”

  1. transfer (data) from one computer to another, typically to one that is larger or remote from the user or functioning as a server
  2. an act or process of uploading data

Load “Load the cargo onto the ship.”

  1. put a load or large amount of something on or in (a vehicle, ship, container, etc.)
  2. a weight or source of pressure borne by someone or something
  3. make (someone or something) carry or hold a large or excessive amount of heavy things
  4. a way, a course, a carrying; a street, watercourse; maintenance, support
  5. a great amount or number
  6. to fill with passengers

Download "Download the files.”

  1. action or process of transferring from the storage of a larger system to that of a smaller one

Works cited

American Artist, “Black Gooey Universe” (Unbag Magazine 2018)

Audre Lorde, “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” Sister Outsider (Ten Speed Press 2007)

Basics of the Unix Philosophy,” The University of Rhode Island Department of Computer Science and Statstics

The Black Panther Party,” National Archives

Christopher Bracken, “The Language of Things: Walter Benjamin’s Primitive Thought,” (Semiotica 2002)

Claire E. Evans. Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet

Denise Ferreira da Silva, “Toward a Black Feminist Poethics: The Quest(ion) of Blackness Toward the End of the World” (Taylor & Francis 2014)

Ed Robeson, To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan University Press 2012)

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (François Maspero 1961)

Fred Moten, The Universal Machine (Duke University Press 2018)

Hito Steyerl, “A Thing Like You and Me,” The Wretched of the Screen (Sternberg Press 2009)

Hortense Spillers, “Critical Theory in Times of Crisis” (The South Atlantic Quarterly 2020)

Matthew David Segall, “Diagram of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

M. NourbeSe Phillip, Zong! (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press 2011)

Orlando Patterson, "Toward a future that has no past—reflections on the fate of Blacks in the Americas" (National Affairs 1972)

Raymond M. Fish and Leslie A. Geddes, “Conduction of Electrical Current to and Through the Human Body” (Eplasty 2009)

Ron Eglash, “Broken Metaphor: The Master-Slave Analogy in Technical Literature,” Technology and Culture (Johns Hopkins University Press 2007)

Ruha Benjamin, Race After Technology (Polity 2019)

Saidiya Hartman, “Venus in Two Acts” (Small Axe Press 2008)

Tara McPherson, “U.S. Operating Systems at Mid-Century: The Intertwining of Race and UNIX.” Race after the Internet, by Lisa Nakamura and Peter A. Chow-White (Routledge Press 2012)

Wendy Hui Kyoung Chun. “On Software, or the Persistence of Visual Knowledge” (MIT Press Journals 2006)

Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation (The University of Michigan Press 1990)

Remembering Slavery,” Durham University

Simone Browne, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Duke University Press 2015)

Sylvia Wynter, "Novel and History, Plot and Plantation." (Savacou 1971)

Archives cited

Alan Turing: the enigma

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Computer History Museum

Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections

Internet Archive

John F. Kennedy Presidential Libary and Museum

Letterform Archive

Library of Congress



National Archives

New York Public Library Digital Collections

Online Etymology Dictionary

Public Domain Review

Slave Voyages


University of Virginia Library

Wikimedia Commons

Yale University Library


Adder Chu, for being a comrade and collaborator who went out of their way to realize the book into a film beyond my imagination

Allison Parrish, for teaching and inspiring me to pursue computational approaches to narrative

Ashley Jane Lewis, for thesis advisement and going above and beyond in providing feedback and space to show the work

Ayodamola Okunseinde, for thesis advisement and sharing a multitude of resources and inspiration surrounding book arts and printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication

Ben Denzer, for teaching the “Artist Books: Examples and Methods” class at the Center for Book Arts that inspired the book form

Bomani McClendon, for being a friend and collaborator who supported me throughout the process—from co-programming to running errands

Cezar Mocan, for sending me endless references and encouraging me to keep going

Chang Yuchen, for organizing lectures and classes that opened me up to the world of book arts

Cy X, for being a comrade and lending me their Panasonic Lumix DC GH5

Dan Shiffman, for being a comrade and an academic advisor who went out of their way to provide material support and resources during my entire educational experience at New York University

Elizabeth Perez, for being a friend and giving bountiful emotional support and critical feedback

Emma Rae Bruml Norton for being a friend, collaborator and continuous source of inspiration and support; and helping hand code the project website

Fred Moten, for teaching me so much of what I know and whose rigorous practice within Black studies fed me spiritually and intellectually, along with being the author of the book the Universal Machine which I struggled through reading while making the project

Galen Macdonald, for being a friend and collaborator who was there from the very beginning of the project

Holly Meadows-Smith, for being a comrade and collaborator who helped me print the book on risograph

Jie Qi & Natalie Freed, for teaching me everything they know about paper circuits and providing material support

Katherine Dillon, for organzing the "100 Days of Making" class in the interactive telecommunications program at New York University in which my "100 days of zine studies and experiments" project helped me create the book form

Kelli Anderson, for endless inspiration and free resources surrounding paper engineering

Khari Lucas, for being a comrade and a brilliant composer and producer who co-crafted the score

Mariame Kaba, for being a friend and collaborator whose comradery is a consisent source of support and inspiration

Melanie Hoff, for being a friend and collaborator who gave me the idea to perform the project

Mollie Underwood, for sending me endless inspiration

Sam Lavigne & Matt Jacobson, for helping me code the first Dark Matter Object I created in 2018

Sammi Aryani, for video production support

Simone Browne, for writing the book Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness—which deeply transformed me—and thesis advisement

Sol Cabrini de la Ciudad, for being an inspiring classmate who coined the term “technologies of capture”

Stefani Bardin, for thesis advisement

Steve Daniels, for thesis advisement on printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication and inspiring a transformative shift in the work

Sydney Spann, for generously supplying an archive of incredible field recordings for the score

Taylor Levy, for being an incredible physical computing teacher and helping me build the first Dark Matter Object in addition to providing one on one PCB fabrication tutorials and engineering

Tara Vancil, for being a friend who was the first person to show me I was capable of learning how to program computers and I could use computer programming to tell stories about my experience and the world