The Red Earth Project
1. About the book
Conversing with Dante, Yoruba metaphysics and probabilistic computation, Red Earth is an expansive text and the source material for Michael Salu’s broader interdisciplinary artistic study, where machine learning is central to various processes to ask whether computational translation can be used to engage alternative cosmologies.
As a rhythmic, ever-shifting experience where the protagonist questions notions of selfhood and where grief and loss mesh with candor towards nonhuman perspectives, different cultural interpretations of time and morality enable exploration of a diasporic vestibule between cosmologies of thought, cultures and languages. Red Earth invites readers to see beyond an increasingly statistical societal gaze and instead meditate on life and death and what the virtual realm means for memory, particularly memories unacknowledged by the dichotomous ‘universal’ language of code.
- “The emergency we've made for ourselves as a species begs for books like Michael Salu's haunting and beautiful Red Earth. At once vast and intimate, galactic and rooted in the earth, this book reads like a genre unto itself. Here are the sonics of poetry and the choral qualities of theatre. Voices swirl and speak, then are lost to the wind. Memories appear and dissolve before nostalgia can snatch them into tidy orbits. To enter this book is to enter a cosmic reckoning with finitude, a record, a warning, and a psalm of our time.”
- "In Michael Salu’s Red Earth, writing becomes a virtuosic act of listening. Salu listens to history’s castoffs—slaves thrown overboard, soil used up and abandoned—so that the relationship between historical hierarchies of power and contemporary crises of ecology gently becomes obvious as if of its own accord. This amidst the strange and irresistible ether of Salu’s polychronic forms and tones, as echoes of the Divine Comedy leak into the Orphic narrator’s radio talk show. As in the classic novels of Daniela Hodrová and Ahmet Altan, Salu’s floating polyrhythms seem almost to weave themselves, crossing historical eras, terrestrial deserts, ocean depths, and metaphysical thresholds—a polyphony of voices from all the dimensions of the world."
- "Red Earth is a radio show on low frequency. Like a ghost walk at the crack of dawn it writes a different grounding and earth into being. Attuned to the quiet frequencies of colonial afterlives, our guides Manto and the narrator, descend into Hades like Orpheus, taking their listeners on a journey to hear the voices unheard in the earth—bony voices in the half light, raw with grief and petrified accounts of deep earth wounds. The methodological brief is to listen intently and hear in the earth different stories. In Red Earth, Michael Salu brings a warm and uncompromising look at pain, Christianity, the arts economy of ‘black as bling’, AI, virtual worldings, hardened realities and all the psychic contradictions of late-night colonial earth. Rather than the didactic pronouncements of terrible violence and its on-going presence, the writing bids us to come with, in an elegiac remonstration of the intimacies of encounters…Red Earth is a literary journey fellow with Aimé Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to my Native Land and Franz Fanon’s Black Skins, White Masks, and Salu’s autoethnography is equally as impressive and unique in the tremor of its language and urgency of its questions. Stay tuned, a major talent has just launched a show that everyone should listen to."