Performance Special

CBT presents « Pull Requests »

Rich Mix, London, United Kingdom
26 Jan 2018

CBT Coding Braiding Transmission, Image Courtesy Isaac Kariuki (2017)

CBT Coding Braiding Transmission, Image Courtesy Isaac Kariuki (2017)

Afrotech Fest 2018 hosts a special performance of “CBT: Pull Requests”​, 8.30PM on January 26, 2018 at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA.

“CBT: Pull Requests” ​is a performance installation by collective CBT (Coding: Braiding: Transmission) combining the practices of coding and braiding; an experiment in digital activism and critical aesthetics.

‘Surveillance is nothing new for black folk’ – Simone Brown, Dark Matters: On The Surveillance of Blackness We are living in a state of intimate surveillance. From the moment you leave your home, your image, your location and your personal data is captured by the technology laced around modern cities, be it the government-installed CCTV cameras or the phones and devices that you hold in your hands. While potentially harmful to all citizens, studies such as a 2017 report carried out by Pew Research Centre, an independent research centre specialising in empirical social science and demographics, reveal that marginalised groups, especially black people, are at greater risk from surveillance, data exploitation and the greater violences it supports such as credit scoring, character assassination and predictive policing. What is one to do under these circumstances when the fantasy of opting out is near impossible? How can we secure our privacy, and by extension, our safety, in today’s world?

In this networked-salon, each strand of hair that is woven signals information passing, the encryption and decryption of private messaging. Digital networks are communication zones, spaces to share knowledge and resources and create new material realities, whilst hair braiding is part of a historical and cultural tradition that has spread throughout the African Diaspora. It might also be considered as an ancient technology. History offers the case of Benkos Bioho, a runaway slave, who founded a small village in Columbia in the 16th century with the help of female slaves who would map out potential escape routes onto their braided hair, carving out paths with their cornrows. Some patterns were even utilised to deliver secret messages. Could this be the first instance of bio-technology or bio-encryption? Inspired by biometrics, cryptology and cybernetic resistance, “CBT:Pull Requests” is the first in a series of radical propositions for self-care and security in the digital age.


Friday January 26, 8.30-9.30PM at Afrotech Fest 2018, Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA.



CBT (c.2017) is a digital startup established by Tamar Clarke-Brown & Isaac Kariuki combining the technologies of coding and braiding. Past presentations include Late at Tate Britain: Cut and Colour (2017) and Protein Studios (2017).

Afrotech Fest 2018 is a two-day tech and digital festival by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage. It runs from 26 January to 27 January 2018. The festival won’t replicate models for tech events, festivals and conferences that currently exist. It will instead explore where technology meets the arts, history, news, activism and representation. Afrotech Fest provides a space where people across a variety of backgrounds can imagine a future that’s free of the problems of the present.