Of Shine, Bling, and Bixels
Genealogies of performance attend not only to “the body,” as Foucault suggests,
but also to bodies— to the reciprocal reflections they make on one another’s sur-
faces as they foreground their capacities for interaction.
— Joseph Roach, Cities of the Dead (1996)
This is not counter- discourse but a counterculture that defiantly reconstructs
its own critical, intellectual, and moral genealogy in a partially hidden public
sphere of its own.
— Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic (1993)
It is eleven o’clock at night, and a bus christened Bashment careens
down the streets of Kingston, Jamaica (fig. i.1). A rainbow of colors radi-
ate from the front of the Route 39 bus in quick succession, reproducing
in aerodynamic design its swift movement. These shimmering colors
reflect the shine of the bus’s rims, detailing, and arabesque insignia. On
this night, the bus transports a group of dancehall performers, the mob
and Cadillac dancers, a videographer, and me to a stage show north of
the city. We are late, so the bus blazes through the winding streets to
make up time. Beaming with bright white and electric- blue lights, it ap-
pears to hover over the potholed streets, like an object from the future.
Flat television screens built into its exterior give Bashment its glow.
When red traffic lights bring it to a momentary halt, children approach
with wide eyes, their faces lit by the flickering yet persistent light from
African American hip- hop and r&b music videos emitted from the bus’s
hd panels. But before many of the accidental spectators can fully take
in its music video oﬀerings, Bashment is gone in a noisy flash.
I open with a description of Bashment because its display of the
latest consumer electronics and music videos, featuring shimmering
contemporary consumer culture, makes explicit a fact that animates
this book: photographic and videographic expressions and even the