Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

The Joy of Punk Rock

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This past Saturday (20 April, 2019), I got to experience a bit of Rock ‘n’ Roll history as Half Japanese celebrated a re-release of their 1988 “Charmed Life” album on blue vinyl. Long before the popularization of the genres Indie Rock or Alternative Rock, the brothers Jad and David Fair formed the punk rock band Half Japanese in 1975. But when one listens to Half Japanese now, it doesn’t identify with 70s punk as much as 80s and 90s alternative rock. Between the lyrics, distorted guitar and noise, the first band that comes to mind is Sonic Youth who have cited Half Japanese as an influence and Don Fleming who has worked with Sonic Youth was on stage.

I only had my iPhone and generally would not use it to record song after song, but I felt as if I was listening to something special as these white haired men in their 60s rocked out on the small stage of le poisson rouge. Between the darkness of the club and the fluctuating lights on stage, much of this footage is a blur, but you can still hear the art punk sounds of Half Japanese.

“Vietnam” and a couple other songs. Following Vietnam at the 1 min 50 sec mark, Don Fleming takes the lead on “Real Cool Time” and it’s pretty awesome.
The very short but hard driving “Face Rake”

Written by ricardo

April 22nd, 2019 at 7:38 pm

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Reza Aramesh at Asia Society

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Iranian born artist Reza Aramesh (b 1970) has a powerful one room installation at the Asia Society in New York City. The power of the work is not so much in the sculptures, but rather at what they point to through their titles:

Action 131: Dying Iranian Soldier, 1987

Action 134: December 31, 1980, Ankara, Turkey

Action 133: Dying American Solder, Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, 9 November 2004

Action 132: Saigon, 5 August 1963

Decades of warfare, decades of death, the savagery of mankind as perpetrated by one empire upon a series of much weaker nation states – Vietnam, Turkey, Iran, Iraq… The sculptures are engaging and beautifully executed, but it was not until I read the titles that I realized what I was beholding; then the work resonated.

The male figures frozen in agony become individual victims of war. And just in case one does not read the titles, inspection of the wallpaper lining the entire room will make the subject of the installation abundantly clear. At the center of the wallpaper pattern is a hooded and bound figure – so called “enemy combatants” surrounded by four naked male figures depicted from behind. The naked figures leave one wondering – are they dead soldiers walking to the afterlife or soldiers stripped of their identity and beliefs for their country’s ideology? The only figure in the illustration that faces the viewer is the bound and hooded central figure. A close up of the wall paper is pictured below.

The installation is simple and powerful. I only question the brown velvet garment that drapes over the lower part of each torso. The garment itself is fine and effectively points to religious sculptures, however the awkward shape of the pedestals that lie hidden below the garment do not flow naturally to the torsos, so the pedestals stand out as unresolved presentation. That said, concept and craft come across powerfully in this room.

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Reza Aramesh, wallpaper

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Written by ricardo

April 16th, 2019 at 7:33 pm

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Nicaraguan LGBTQ Community

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I recently read the essay “Tacit Subjects” by Carlos Ulises Decena in which the author interviews several homosexual individuals from the Dominican Republic. Decena focuses on the coming out or not of gay Dominican men to their families. Amongst the subjects interviewed for the essay, their homosexuality is unspoken but recognized by their family members, hence the title “Tacit Subjects.”

Upon reading the essay, I was immediately transported to the awe that I felt in 1995 upon witnessing my first Torovenado in Masaya, Nicaragua. Throughout my life I had only visited Nicaragua during the summer and I had enjoyed the initial celebrations of the three month festivities for San Jeronimo, the patron saint of my mom’s hometown – Masaya. El Torovenado – a satirical procession occurs at the end of the celebrations – the final Sunday of October. In 1995, I moved to Nicaragua for an extended period and the uncle with whom I was living, invited to take me to El Torovenado. Mi Tio Jorge enjoys a good party and is not particularly religious, so I was a little surprised that he’d want to go to the culmination of a saint’s festivities. However, I noted a mischievous spark in his eye and I agreed to join him on the 20 minute drive to Masaya.

I was dumbfounded upon seeing a giant gay parade in my mom’s hometown. It was as if the San Francisco Castro that I grew up with had transported itself to Masaya. There, before me, was the Lion’s Club (El Club de Leones) Queen – queen of the parade – a proper queen, entirely in beautiful drag. Everywhere I looked the rainbow flag was flying high. I think my uncle truly enjoyed at how speechless I was.

The culmination of this Catholic festivity had been co-opted by the gay community and everyone appeared to be fine with it. Since El Torovenado is a satirical procession in which people are allowed to mock anything and everyone – from historical figures to the most powerful political figures, in retrospect, it makes sense that the gay community took over this particular day of celebration; after all it’s a day of freedom, when social norms are discarded. El Torovenado is alternately called La Parada de los Cochones.

I feel that Nicaragua has always been more accepting of its gay community than other Latin American countries and I think that the 1979 victory of the Sandinistas allowed greater freedom for the LGBTQ communities through the 80s. The Torovenado allows the large numbers of the gay community to gather and party. Here is a 5 minute video documentation of the 2017 Torovenado (before the current Ortegista repression and militarization of the country):

In relation to the gay Dominicans featured in “Tacit Subjects,” these are people (primarily men) who are out and proud and the public persona that they present particularly in a festive procession may be very different than who they are with their family. Perhaps the acceptance of the gay community in Nicaragua allows young people to come out and discuss sexuality more openly than in the DR and it is not such a tacit subject. However, macho culture exists as in the rest of Latin America and I would not be surprised if a large portion of this community is alienated from their birth families and have constructed or adopted new families based on their sexuality.

There is an interesting book that I’ve only read passages from that goes in depth regarding the gay community following the Sandinista revolution – Intimate Activism: The Struggle for Sexual Rights in Postrevolutionary Nicaragua by Cymene Howe. The book discusses El Torovenado:

according to Erick Blandon, the Torovenado is a ‘moment of escape from oppressive heterosexual masculinity and a dialogic engagement between different sexual subjects where homoeroticism becomes the center of attention for both homosexuals and heterosexuals.’ While transvestics are not the quotidian norm in Nicaragua, it is clear that the country has had a public and symbolic space for these kinds of gendered performances.

Howe, Cymene, Intimate Activism: The Struggle for Sexual Rights in Postrevolutionary Nicaragua, Duke University Press, 2013

With the current violence and repression by the Ortega dictatorship, I wonder how the LGBTQ community is doing. Have they become a tacit community? Are they remaining in-doors as does the majority of the population come nightfall? The LGBTQ Nicaraguan population has largely thrived due to the safety and acceptance of the country, but with assassins trolling the streets, freedom and expressiveness may no longer be available. It is so sad that the military leaders will allow a single couple – Ortega and Murillo hold an entire country hostage and have destroyed the legacy of a popular revolution.

Written by ricardo

March 22nd, 2019 at 11:42 am

1000 icons Featured in Web-Retro

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web-retro, webretro, web retro, SeMA, Seoul Museum of Art, net art
WEB-RETRO, Seoul Museum of Contemporary Art

On the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web, the Seoul Museum of Contemporary Art launched WEB-RETRO, an “exhibition focuses on the World Wide Web, which has been fundamentally reconditioning communication, image production, consumption and artistic practice for the last 30 years, and revises the new arts that have been tried through the net historically.”

Included in the exhibition is the net.art visualization 1000 icons. From June 15th to August 25th 2002, one human icon (of a thousand) disappeared for each death reported in the headlines of the New York Times Online. The human icon was replaced by a new icon representing how the reported death(s) occurred. Upon consuming the NY Times headlines, I would illustrate an icon based on any deaths covered amongst the top headlines. If the death(s) occurred due to an act of aggression, the new icon was accompanied by a flag or emblem representing the nation or organization claiming responsibility. Below the icons are listed each day’s death NY Times headline(s). This project came about due to the Second Intifada – an intensified period of Israeli-Palestinian violence and the citing of daily death in news headlines.

1000 icons, Ricardo Miranda Zuniga, net art, web art, data visualization, news visualization

Written by ricardo

March 12th, 2019 at 8:18 am

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JAMES ARONSON AWARDS

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Call for Submissions Deadline – March 18, 2019 for the James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism & Cartooning with a Conscience.

Individual reporters, cartoonists and publications are encouraged to submit work. We are thrilled that the Aronson Awards is entering its 29th year of celebrating outstanding and risk taking journalism. Since 1990, the Aronson Awards have honored original, written reporting that exposes widespread injustices, underlying causes, and possible reforms. This includes exposing discrimination based on race, class, gender, religion or sexual orientation; economic exploitation; violations of human rights, civil liberties or free expression; environmental degradation; and brutality to civilians in war.

The Aronson Awards recognize original work published in English in newspapers, magazines, blogs and online publications based in the U.S. A separate prize, the Grambs Aronson Award for Cartooning with a Conscience, recognizes the achievements of political cartoonists whose work focuses on social issues. Individual reporters, cartoonists and publications are encouraged to submit your work.
Entry Forms: http://aronsonawards.com

The Aronson Awards are administered by the Hunter College Department of Film & Media Studies.
Directors
Tami Gold & Blanca Vazquez
718 801-0381
tamigold@mindspring.com

Written by ricardo

February 5th, 2019 at 10:41 am

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Dictator Cycle

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The series of work titled Dictator Cycle has a specific moment of inception – January 29th, 2014 when I heard that the Nicaraguan National Assembly had elected to do away with presidential term limits, effectively allowing, the current president Daniel Ortega to remain president throughout the remainder of his life.

With each manipulation of the Nicaraguan constitution by Ortega and the Sandinista party, I feel a deep sadness for the impoverished country, the birthplace of my parents and where I spent the best days of my childhood. I am also dumbfounded at the short-sightedness of the ruling party and the ignorant avarice of Daniel Ortega who will not hand over the political reigns of the country to a new generation.

Prosperity has been illusive to this small country that has suffered a long-lasting dictatorship, natural disasters, a popular revolution and seemingly inherent political corruption. If only true leaders would emerge who seeks an end to corruption and the engineering of a society striving for the well-being of all its people. Unfortunately, since the Nicaraguan National Assembly elected to eliminate presidential term limits, an end to poverty and corruption appears as distant as the worst period of the Somoza dynasty. Ortega has effectively become Somoza.

Nearly a year later, I illustrated Stalin/Putin out of anger of the increasingly draconian laws in Russia such as the “bloggers law” and “anti-gay law”. Following Stalin/Putin, I started work on the “Dictator Cycle” as an illustrative series depicting once young and noble leaders who had become corrupt autocrats unwilling to surrender power. Each “Dictator Cycle” pairing is alive today or their reign continues to have very real consequences upon the country. For example, although Gaddafi has been killed, Libya continues in disarray. Although Kim Il-sung died in 1994, his grandson Kim Jong-un is North Korea’s current supreme leader and is shown to perhaps be the most ruthless of the family dictatorship.

A Case for Latinx

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Coined in the early aughts, the term Latinx has slowly gained traction in academe and social media. Spanish is a gendered language, nouns are either female or male – they are binary and immediately evoke a binary gendered meaning and identity and value – female or male. To those who identify outside of the female and male binary, a transformation of language must occur.

Language is a living thing. Languages change over time; new words are established, pronunciations change, languages die and new languages are established; language evolves. In Judeo-Christian religions as well as other religions, language is the root of knowledge and language is power. In our culture, those who dominate a language may more easily cross class and racial boundaries. Language continues to present power.

As language is knowledge and power and language is a living thing, it can be transformed. Language is a culturally transformative vehicle. Language has the power to alter understanding and may present a means to inclusiveness. Perhaps next year the Latinx Grammys will embrace this transformation.

Written by ricardo

November 16th, 2018 at 2:29 pm

Amazon Is Funded, CUNY Is Not – Shame de Blasio

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The hypocrisy of the NYC Mayor: today on WNYC’s “Ask the Mayor” de Blasio states that CUNY 2-year grads will be able to get $50K jobs with Amazon (which he declares is a living wage in NYC, I’d like to see de Blasio get by on $50k). Meanwhile CUNY is severely underfunded and falling apart. CUNY state support has declined for decades. In 2017, City Comptroller Scott Stringer testified that “since 2010, CUNY’s cumulative shortfall in State funding is now over $700 million.” The 2018 $200 million “boost” for CUNY AND SUNY (again – a lousy $200 million for both SUNY and CUNY) for a “quality education”, trickles down to nearly nothing in correlation to the decades of underfunding. The fact that Amazon, an over $130 BILLION corporation, is awarded $3 billion in tax credits, abatements and capital grants from the city and state while CUNY is severely underfunded year after year is SHAMEFUL!

As the mayor stated, a rational for this is the job creation that the Queens’ based Amazon headquarters will present to the city population. However, if CUNY continues to be underfunded, if the vast majority of our faculty are underpaid, if classes are over-stuffed with students and education must be watered-down, these jobs will not be filled by CUNY grads. Amazon jobs will be filled by private university grads and grads from across the country that receive a better education than what CUNY can possibly offer on a short budget. And the disparity between privilege and poor will continue to grow – as sponsored by Cuomo and de Blasio.

It is shameful that adjunct faculty must fight and protest for a lousy $7K salary when Amazon is awarded billions of dollars. We all know that Cuomo does not value public higher education, his record clearly shows this, but it’s shameful that the so-called progressive de Blasio does not do more to fight for CUNY.

Written by ricardo

November 16th, 2018 at 8:59 am

Get Out the Vote!

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Tomorrow – Friday, October 12th is the deadline for voter registration! But not only for voter registration, but also to change party affiliation for next year. After years of voting as an Independent and being locked out of primaries and telling myself that I need to switch out of Independent to Dem in order to have a valuable vote in NY/NYC, I made the switch online and it only took a few minutes:

Info Page:
https://www.dmv.org/ny-new-york/voter-registration.php

Direct link to voter registration:
https://voterreg.dmv.ny.gov/MotorVoter/

For U.S. citizen who now live in other countries but whose last U.S. address was in New York, email registration works.

Four steps:
1. Get your NY absentee ballot request here, pre-filled via this clever web form:
https://www.usvotefoundation.org/

2. Sign it.

3. Take a picture/make a PDF, and email that to the address provided before Friday. You should get an email confirmation back same day.

4. Mail your hard copy. This way your registration goes through even if it arrives after the Friday deadline.

WE MUST ALL VOTE TO HELP MAKE THIS “DEMOCRACY” WORK.

Written by ricardo

October 11th, 2018 at 10:06 am

Brett Kavanaugh Drank Beer

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If Brett Kavanaugh liked beer as much as he declares that he does, there’s no way he didn’t black out at some point, hehehe. This man should never be a Supreme Court Justice or even a judge. If he is appointed, we live in the worst nation state concocted. It is merely a matter of being born into the right situation, and able to mix it up with the necessary network. Drink beet with DoubleYa!

Written by ricardo

October 2nd, 2018 at 9:40 pm