- The Xicano Future is Now:Poetry, Performance, and Prolepsis
adrian h. molina's Bronze Future: Letters for 2045 (2012) is a video chapbook available on YouTube that consists of eight short vignettes, each featuring molina reading one of his long poems. molina describes it on his website as an exploration of "Latino identity, Chicano history and future, cyborg technology, food justice, and sustainability."1 Each segment is filmed in a different Denver neighborhood using natural light and eschewing external microphones in favor of whatever unassisted sound the camera picks up. Each short film posits the body and voice of the poet, rooted in spaces significant to Denver's Chicanx history, against the mediating power of video and the internet. Technology creates the conditions of both possibility and impossibility for Bronze Future: various technologies enable its creation and dissemination, while other technologies surface topically across the poems as communal threats.
Technology, for Molina, comprises both theory and praxis, a mode of engaging as well as a set of tools for remaking that which extends beyond the human body. In navigating these [End Page 403] delicate balances—between materiality and abstraction, promise and threat—Molina stakes philosophical claims about technology in the twenty-first century that intervene productively, as I will show here, in contemporary critical conversations around the Latinx speculative arts. In works besides Bronze Future, to illustrate the range of his technological concerns, Molina references industrial and environmental technologies in songs about food justice and sustainability, as in "Grow Your Own," from MileHighTimes, whose title playfully references cannabis while the lyrics warn against the evils of chemical-based agribusiness with a chorus of: "Eat right, meditate, grow your own food / Body, sun, spirit, land, water, sun, moon."2 Molina also sings about information technology and social media: "People's hand-held tech devices will communicate with each other independently of human control, creating network and access possibilities that we cannot now put into words," Molina declares ominously on "Futurist," the second track from his album Build 2020 Manifesto.3 In addition, he makes quite a bit of music about technologies of the state with songs about police violence, homelessness, and immigration reform.4 Whether abstracted as form or particularized as content, technology in Molina's work is, above all, a mode of actively engaging the world. In his music we see people subject to the power of various technologies, but he constantly exhorts his listeners to act in response to being acted upon, to understand and use the technologies of their own oppression.
Such exhortations drive the engine of Molina's multimedia output. Based in Denver, Colorado, and using the stage name "Molina Speaks," he is a Chicano poet, hip-hop artist, educator, activist, and filmmaker. A first-generation college student, Molina holds a BA and a JD from the University of Wyoming, but he decided against becoming a lawyer in favor of a career as an artist and community organizer. Since 2006 he has taught Cultural, Media and Hip-hop studies at the university level, has led master artist classes at several elite institutions, and has been invited to lecture and perform at dozens of universities across the country. He has published multiple chapbooks of poetry, released over sixteen independently produced musical albums, shared a stage with, among others, Lupe Fiasco, Dead Prez, and The Last Poets; he was also the music supervisor for the documentary film Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth (2009). Remarkably prolific, Molina is guided by a passion for working with disenfranchised students, at-risk youth, and underserved populations. [End Page 404]
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In the face of the despair that such conditions might generate, Molina is driven by a resolute optimism about the world to come, a faith in the future despite past injustice and present inequality. That future orientation mirrors his interest in cutting-edge, especially cloud-based, technologies. In works like Build 2020, for example, a musical hip-hop manifesto about Chicanx self-determination, Molina warns of the creeping dangers of...