Black Noetic theory

An Introduction: On Black Noetic theory

Black Noetic theory (BNt) is both a methodology for production and psychological response to human conflict, specifically for the black figure. Noetic comes from the Greek term noesis or noetiko, relating to the mind or intellect. Black Noetic theory borrows from the Institute of Noetic Sciences use of noetic, defined as “inner wisdom, direct knowing, intuition, or implicit understanding” (Source). A noetic experience can be understood as gut feelings, insights that seem to come out of nowhere, precognition or spiritual-ancestral connection.

Black Noetic theory extends author Kevin Young’s inquiry on the art of escape in Black American history and culture. In The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, Young pens, “The fabric of black life has often meant its very fabrication, making a way out of no way, and making it up as you go along” (Source). Such unpredictability is a fundamental effect of cultures of dispossession and violence; despite the barriers, there is always a will to survive for the black figure.

“Making a way out of no way” can be thought of as a kind of resourcefulness, an ingenuity that refers back to intuition or intiutive sensibilities. Direct knowing or intuitive forms of expressions performed under duress can be understood as a stabilizing force and method for maintaining order in the precarity of Black lived experience and Black queer lives on the margin.

Critical to my pratice is Black Noetic theory as a methodology, which considers intuitive knowing and doing as an experimental strategy. Along with the conventions and structures of video and filmmaking, Black Noetic theory acknowledges the improvisational gestures embedded within lived experience and creative production. In working within this mode of production, I seek to innovate within the form of video, cinema, nonfiction writing, and poetry. Black Noetic theory operates from a de-colonial lens by concerning racial and sexual difference in lived and embodied experience, and within the canon of American literature, cinema, celluloid film technology, and contemporary art, which is inherently anti-black.

Black Noetic theory is a system that utilizes intuitive processes and experimental strategies as an intervention to push against boundaries of form and convention, and to collapse distinctions between documentary, cinema, video, and performance. It’s necessary for the Black figure (artist and subject), their psyche and spirit to be disentangled from limiting constructs, linearity, and simplified representations of blackness in order to create sites of passage for emerging forms, aesthetics, and experimentation.

In short, Black Noetic theory asks: How can conscious production and experimental techniques function to make futurity possible?

I am currently producing a set of short essays for Black Noetic theory and developing a solo exhibition framed by the concept.

Black Noetic theory is informed by:

  • Greek term noesis or noetiko, relating to the mind or intellect.

  • Institute of Noetic Sciences definition of noetic as “inner wisdom, direct knowing, intuition, or implicit understanding” (Source).

  • “Making a way out of now way, and making it up as you go along” (Source).

  • Intuition &/or intuitive knowing as a state of being and method for production.

  • Improvisational gestures.

  • Black Interiority: a subjective, self-possession or an inner life “of its own making and conditioning” (Source).

  • Black feminist thought, Feminist film theory, Black studies.

  • Stretching video and film forms, genre and conventions as a negotiation with blackness and being, confinement and liberation, technique and (ill)legibility.

  • Sergei Eisentstein’s montage theory in video editing, bringing two or more contrasting shots together to create new meaning.

© 2022 dana washington-queen
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