Archive for the ‘critical_perspectives’ Category

Kelly Sears’s Animations During Trump Administration

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Animator Kelly Sears creates eerie speculative narratives by superimposing a voice on to archival footage. The voice presents a state of surveillance and authoritarianism as the viewer watches post-war American footage that she manipulates through various forms of animation. Sears’s work has even greater resonance and seems increasingly foreboding given the Trumpian political climate.

Although “The Rancher” (2012) uses footage of Lyndon B. Johnson, upon listening to the narration, Trump immediately comes to mind.

The Rancher (excerpt) from Kelly Sears on Vimeo.

“Voice on the Line” (2009) stirs to mind the NSA’s wiretapping, but again with Trump’s assault on immigrants and initial legislative actions, the Trump administration and ICE come to mind as I watch excerpts from this film in which a secret police listen to conversations with phone operators. Unknowingly the operators have become complicit in the monitoring and spying of the U.S. population.

Voice on the Line (excerpt) from Kelly Sears on Vimeo.

Written by ricardo

February 15th, 2017 at 9:36 am

New York Magazine Does Not Pay Immigrant Subjects

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New York MagazineWith a verified paid circulation of 404,5731, you would think that New York Magazine would offer a small honorarium to immigrants who are photographed for the magazine.

The bi-weekly New York Magazine is a limited liability company (LLC) with a cover price of $5.99 and an annual subscription cost ranging from $25 to $29.97. In September 2014, New York had the biggest growth for online traffic in the company’s history with 27 million monthly unique visitors across it’s web properties (NYmag.com, Vulture, the Cut, Grub Street and Science of Us)2. The magazine has claimed that it’s newsstand business remains highly profitable3 and yet it expects immigrants to be photographed and featured in the magazine to voluntarily offer 2 hours of their time.

Last week I received the following call via an email list that I’m on:

Boom Production Casting Call – New York Magazine

What: Looking for New York immigrants from ALL walks of life— this can include babies, infants, grandparents, mothers, daughters, sons, everyone. From diverse neighborhoods and ethnic communities all over the 5 boroughs. Immigration Status doesn’t matter!!! Only requirement you must be born in another country and live here in NY. Feel free to pass this along to a friend of family member.
When: Shoot dates – Monday Nov 28th and Tuesday Nov 29th in New York City (Requires a minimum of 2 hours of availability)

About the Photographer: Platon (Has photographed, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Woody Allen, Adele and Alicia Keys to name a few)

I then emailed the contact for the call asking how much does the two hour photo shoot pay. I got the following response:
This is a journalistic project therefore theres no rate for it.

So then I replied – am I to understand that the photo shoot, feeds NY Magazine content that is sold to buyers and subscribers and will help promote Platon’s career, whom I assume is paid for taking the photographs, but the subjects get nothing for their time? If so, it seems as if the magazine and photographer are taking advantage of immigrants based partly on the current political environment in this country.

And to this email, I received the following response:

This is a voluntary participation,

This content is to fulfill an article being written about the amazing citizens of NY who migrated here from somewhere…

Amazing citizens whose portraits will help sell the magazine and yet not even a small honorarium for their time. I am a CUNY professor with a lousy salary for New York City and when I work with immigrants on an art project, I always put aside an honorarium for their time. In a latest project, I budgeted $120/hour for 10 interviewees. I have a tiny budget and no expectation of a profit on an artistic project, yet, I respect the people who work with me and their time hence I offer an honorarium. It’s unbelievable that a successful magazine can not do the same.


Footnotes

1. The Alliance for Audited Media
2. Magazine.org
3. Folio

Written by ricardo

November 28th, 2016 at 8:47 am

Woman In Subway

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This is the latest animated loop inspired by traversing the city. Whether walking or on public transit, observations of urban life trigger visual ideas that are rendered as brief animations. Audio accompanying the animations are recordings from urban walks as well as interviews with NYC residents. The audio accompanying this animation is from a brief excerpt from an extended interview with my 86 year old neighbor Louise.

Go to rmz.nyc to see the entire series, click on the central image to go from one to the next. Through the combination of animation, WebGL, web video and audio as well as various javascript libraries such as p5.js and three.js, the browser is employed as a canvas.

Too Many Guppies

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I took a video of a clarinet and drum duo inside the Metro Tech Subway Station and created a rotoscope animation with the musicians in the foreground, a collection of subway advertisements that I’ve documented over the years in the background and recent gentrification interviews as audio… This is New York City!

When News Becomes Fiction

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Did The Takeaway really use the latest Game of Thrones music to introduce a report on the attack at the Istanbul airport? I hope that I’ mistaken, but it sounds as if the attack at the Istanbul airport was introduced with the music from this past Sunday’s Game of Thrones, which would be problematic.

Listen to the music track from episode 10 of season 6 at around the three minute and fifty second portion

It sounds too similar to the beginning of the story from The Takeaway on Wednesday June 29th. There is a problem when the news utilizes elements of fiction to capture our attention. We can not accept this sort of broadcasting! Link to The Takeaway

Reality becomes fiction and our brains collapse.

Written by ricardo

June 29th, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Ometepe the Video Game

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I’ve spent a good chunk of time this past year learning Unity3D. Although I’ve primarily been covering Unity for 3D and VR content, I wanted to build a 2D game as well and a first version is nearly finished! “Ometepe” – a 2D platformer type game is set on the island Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua where you control El Chapulin Colorado who defends the island from ecological havoc wrought by President Daniel Ortega and Hong Kong Billionaire Wang Jing has they attempt to construct the Nicaragua Canal. (If ever realized, the Nicaragua Canal would entail the largest movement of earth in the planet’s history. I plan to complete the game and have it available this July 2016!

“On Transmitting Ideology” Revisited

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I recently revisited a project from 2008 – On Transmitting Ideology, that is partly an audio montage of historically famous speeches that I feel have helped define the current conservative and liberal ideologies so prominent in the United States political and cultural arenas. Although the piece has been exhibited several times, I’d really like for more people to listen to the audio montage, particularly since we’re in a presidential election year. So much of the current rhetoric is drawn almost verbatim from our past. For example a famous speech known as “Rivers of Blood” (1968) by the conservative British Parliament member Enoch Powell strongly reflects some of the things that Donald Trump has said regarding immigration. The 1968 speech is a call to shutting down the British borders largely due to bigotry.

In the desire for more people to listen to the audio montage, I’ve created a video featuring the audio montage. Perhaps if people give it a few seconds they will be intrigued by the voices of Calvin Coolidge, George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., Barry Goldwater… enough to play the entire 17 minute and 30 second video. It begins with quick snippets, but as the piece proceeds longer excerpts compliment one another, ideally to create a nice flow.

The montage only includes 12 men, however, they are amongst the most prominent in U.S. history (with exception of one Brit – Powell). At over 17 minutes the piece is already longer than most people will listen, many more diverse voices could easily be referenced, but I tried to keep it short. The 12 voices included are:
Calvin Cooldige, George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., Barry Goldwater, Barack Obama, Enoch Powell, Malcolm X, Douglas MacCarthur, Noam Chomsky, William F Buckley Jr., Dwight D. Eisenhower

Concentration Game

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AMNESIA: Match a Dictator

Play the memory game concentration with the portraits of dictators from across the globe in recent history. The memory game features illustrations of Stalin, Putin, Smith, Mugabe, Batista, Castro, King Idris, Gaddafi, Somoza, Ortega, Hirohito, Il-sung, the GOP and Dems. Test your dictator knowledge and see if you can identify the portraits! Play it multiple times to sharpen your memory.

On View at Cuchifritos Gallery

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Artist Antonia Pérez creates sculptures by weaving discarded plastic bags. She worked at the gallery during the exhibition.

This is the final weekend for the exhibition “Lettuce, Artichokes, Red Beets, Mangoes, Broccoli, Honey and Nutmeg: The Essex Street Market as Collaborator” at Cuchifritos Gallery located in the Essex Street Market. The exhibition curated by Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful has been in the works for the past two years. The premise of the exhibition is for “six socially conscious artists to engage vendors, customers and the Market itself in their artistic processes as a means of co-generating experiences centered on the life that unfolds outside Cuchifritos Gallery, the art space of the Artist Alliance Inc”.

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga

“Recetas y Gangas: The Essex Street Market Recordings” with mock up of originally proposed installation of bullhorn on the facade of the market

So in preparation for the exhibition, the artists came together with Jodi Waynberg the Executive Director of Artist Alliance as well as Nicolas to begin considering how the artists might work with the market. Jodi toured the artists through the market and introduced them to various vendors as well as the building manager and staff. Nearly all the artists attended a Vendors Association Meeting to present their projects and solicit collaboration.

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga

“Refuse Redo” a collaboration between Mary Ting and Lower East Side Girls Club/La Tiendita – sculptures made from market cardboard.

As one may imagine, the vendors are small business owners and workers. The market is the place that they go to for employment, not necessarily for cultural engagement. Many of the vendors are entirely preoccupied with maintaining their business and were no nonsense about artistic participation. If the artists did not approach with a brief and concrete plan for collaboration, there was little chance of any cooperation. A few vendors were excited at the prospect of creative engagement and happily collaborated. However in general, the ambitious projects envisioned by the artists needed to be simplified.

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga

Scent and air time capsule of the Essex Street Market by Beatrice Glow.

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga

Market collection and journal by Inspector Collector Harley Spiller.


Laia Solé and Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful employ the color green from the market to create a video montage that collapses the artists at work and the market at work.

For example, I wanted to create an audio montage of the vendors chanting or singing their goods and then to have that audio amplified onto the street via a bullhorn installed on the facade of the Essex Street Market. The concept was to have the interior of the market spill out onto the street as street markets commonly do in Latin America and Europe. Most of the vendors were not comfortable in singing their goods and the building management did not allow the installation of the bullhorn due to city ordinances regarding noise pollution (at least that was their excuse). When I was recording one of the vendors, a shopper approached me to tell me about recipes that she uses for a particular root. It then occurred to me that if vendors did not want to sing, perhaps they would share a recipe and the audio montage became primarily recordings of market recipes. As the piece would not be projected onto the street via a loudspeaker, I created a sandwich board with a speaker installed into it and wore the sandwich board on the street. In this way, the original concept of the piece was fully realized.

Each artist has her or his own story of how the work needed to be modified for the final exhibition. And in the end, this is the nature of collaboration.

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga

“Recetas y Gangas: The Essex Street Market Recordings” with mock up of originally proposed installation of bullhorn on the facade of the market

Stalin to Putin

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Stalin/Putin, Smith/Mugabe, Somoza/Ortega, Hirohito/Kim Il-sung, Idris/Gaddafi, Batista/Castro, GOP/Dems are ongoing portrait pairings of autocratic leaders that reflect a corruption of power. These illustrations have been created with the intention of animating a transformation from one face to the other as video loops. “Stalin to Putin” is the second animation of the series. “Somoza to Ortega” was completed quickly following the Sandinista’s last constitutional amendment that got rid of term limits, facilitating Ortega’s permanency as Nicaraguan president. I created the illustrations and my assistant Thomas Medina is the animator behind “Stalin to Putin”.