Archive for the ‘critical_perspectives’ Category

“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”.

Drawings for Bernie!

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Alevo Zkaynak drawing for Bernie

On an outing to Fort Greene Park yesterday afternoon, I met Alevo Zkaynak at the entrance of the park. She was holding a home made banner declaring “BERNIE DRAWS THE LINE – LINE DRAWINGS!!!”. From the banner hung 5 terrific line drawings created by the artist to generate donations for Bernie. She told me that she was out of money to give to Bernie, so she made the drawings to sell; she’d send half the proceeds to the Bernie campaign.

It is this sort of youthful and earnest enthusiasm that makes me wish that Bernie Sanders Political Revolution did occur. Unfortunately as with Obama’s HOPE, the United States is far too divided for any revolution to occur whether it’s a revolution of bigotry and hate or one of openness and love. As with much of Obama’s tenure, the Republicans are blocking the President’s right to select a new Supreme Court judge. When our representatives are unwilling to do their job, it is amazing that any legislation gets done in this country. Change must occur, perhaps it will happen through today’s youth, people like Alevo Zkaynak.

Amnesia – a Card Matching Game

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Amnesia

I’m currently teaching myself Unity by reading through Unity in Action and as an initial finished project, I’ve built a card matching game that is covered in the fourth chapter of this book. I decided to utilize the dictator portraits that I’ve been creating for a print and animation series titled “Drunk with Power”. The game is available online, so test your memory by matching the 14 dictators illustrated onto the cards in the game “Amnesia”. In case you are not able to identify some of the portraits and would like to know who they are, the illustrated dictators are: Somoza, Ortega, Stalin, Putin, Idris, Gaddafi, Batista, Castro, Smith, Mugabe, Hirohito, Kim Il-sung, the GOP and the Dems.

I could not not include the United States of America. By placing the mascots of the U.S. Democratic and Republican parties amongst the portraits of Latin American, Soviet, African, Middle Eastern and East Asian dictators, the viewer is asked to question the concentration of political power within only two political parties and the ideologies that they expound. Excluded from power are any third parties and alternative political views or social movements. Through the recent victory of Citizens United (2010), the concentration of power has been fortified by unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns to influence elections. The passing of this Constitutional law is akin to the oligarchies represented by the rest of the portraits. Just as with the countries controlled by the depicted dictators, the United States is not a democracy. Play “Amnesia”! (The portraits look a lot better when played full-screen.)

Written by ricardo

December 2nd, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Richard Stallman at The New School

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Richard StallmanUnfortunately, I was not prepared to record Richard Stallman’s song about email that he sang before his lecture, but I did record the entire lecture which is smart and entertaining. Unfortunately, it feels like a battle cry for a long lost war. However, if you’ve been thinking about deleting your FB and Instagram accounts and dumping your proprietary operating systems for GNU/Linux and switching to free software, then listen to this lecture and allow Richard Stallman to convince you to make the leap into freedom.

Richard Stallman
People should have the right to copy and modify programs.

Richard Stallman
People should have the right to redistribute programs with changes.

Richard Stallman
People should not be used by their programs or it’s makers.

Richard Stallman
Amazon Swindle will track your reading, delete files, make changes to your device.

Richard Stallman
Companies abuse their users for profit, don’t allow yourself to be abused.

Richard Stallman
You are tethered to Apple to make the company immense amounts of money.

Richard Stallman
When teachers teach proprietary software, it’s just like selling cigarettes to kids.

Richard Stallman
Free software presents the freedom to knowledge, to learn what makes the software, it presents the possibility to modify the software and to freely share with others. The basis of free software is the free exchange of information and knowledge. So meet the free software gang and be liberated from the likes of Microsoft or Adobe.

Written by ricardo

October 12th, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Hong Kong Glitch

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I don’t recall what compelled me to start saving images from the Hong Kong protests last year. However, as I saved them, I began manipulating the digital files by changing the files extension to be able to open them in a basic editor as text and to read the meta data on the images. As I did so, I would rearrange the data making up the image itself. It seemed appropriate to confuse the file by cutting data, changing the order of the data or adding new data. Not unlike the Occupy Movement here in the United States, the Umbrella Revolution appeared as a young and inspired population that would eventually dissipate against an all powerful ruling force. Perhaps, when this generation comes to power, they will recall the energy and desire of this time. I’ve decided to arrange the images into a small book that is available on Blurb or you can merely view the images online. Below are a few images from the series of 20.

Hong Kong Glitch

Hong Kong Glitch

Hong Kong Glitch

Hong Kong Glitch

Carlos Aguirre at the Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City

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Sin titulo

Between the Museo de Arte Moderno and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporanea (MUAC) there was a great deal of Carlos Aguirre (Acapulco, Mexico 1948) to take in this past month in Mexico City. “Zona de Riesgo” was the retrospective of the artist’s work from 1979 to 2014 installed at Mexico City’s Museum of Modern Art. The show was excellent and an amazing overview of an incredibly active artist. In general the exhibition is dark, even macabre as Aguirre appears to be driven by the violence of Mexico from the execution of criminals to excessive contamination.

Sin titulo

Upon entering the multi-gallery exhibition, one is greeted by a line of axes cleaved into a white wall. The blades of the axes are mounted on to branches, a powerful transformation of the ax that reminds the viewer of the violent nature of deforestation. In the early 1990s, Aguirre visualizes environmental impact with objects that may not be ignored such as blackened human lungs split open and cast in clear material hanging over a box filled with carbon.

Sin titulo

Sin titulo

In the next gallery hangs an electric chair and below it the portraits of those executed. Near by is “Los olvidados” (1990), a giant portrait of a man in profile constructed from work gloves used by laborers.

Los olvidados

Name of Dead

As I continued through the exhibition, I was drawn to a grid of small newsprint cutouts pinned to a wall. It was “Name of Dead” 1139 obituaries carefully cut out and posted to the gallery wall. The various galleries are joined by a large circular and domed area where “Dialectica, inteligencia vs. poder” (1995) is suspended. The piece is composed of many fire extinguishers hanging at various heights and at the center hanging at the end of a metal bar are a human brain and a small bust of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, the president during the Tlatelolco massacre of 1968 when hundreds of unarmed protestors were shot.

Dialectica, inteligencia vs. poder

Dialectica, inteligencia vs. poder

Beyond “Dialectica, inteligencia vs. poder” lies a dirt rectangle upon the floor and above the dirt are many shovels placed upon a wooden structure. When the dirt is inspected one will find human teeth and bones as well as corn.

One of the final pieces in the exhibition is a black priest’s robe embroidered with 200 names of victims sexually abused by priests when the victims were children.

There is not much nuance in the visual metaphors constructed by Carlos Aguirre, instead the work is direct and confrontational. He makes it difficult to ignore the dark realities of our culture, Mexico’s reality is one giant risk zone or zona de riesgo.

At MUAC there is a large retrospective of the artist collective Grupo Proceso Pentágono in which Carlos Aguirre played a role during a period of time. For this exhibition, Aguirre rejoined the group to create a critique of the 43 missing students who disappeared on the night of September 26th 2014.

“una geographia de ser” at Transitio_MX

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Opening this Friday, September 25th 2015 “a geography of being: una geografia de ser” as part of Transitio_MX, Festival de Artes Electrónicas y Video, on view through 4 October, National Center of the Arts, Mexico City. The festival consists of various exhibitions, workshops, lectures and discussions. “a geography of being: una geografia de ser” is part of the exhibition “play ? game [play[not]game] //más allá de la caja negra (beyond the black box)” curated by Brian Mackern.

Since 2005, The National Council for Culture and Arts, through the National Center of Arts and the Multimedia Center, has been organizing the Electronic Arts and Video Festival, Transitio_MX, which has become Mexico’s most important platform for expression and contemporary practices in artistic creation that are linked to technology, as well as hybrid productions created by the merge of art, science, technology and humanities.

Play “a geography of being: una geografia de ser” online or with Spanish subtitles.

a geography of being is an interactive art installation that reflects upon the dynamics of the undocumented immigrant population in the United States, specifically in relation to undocumented youth. The installation consists of wooden kinetic sculptures with animated displays titled “Undocumented Drones” and a video game that places the player in the role of an undocumented youth that must face several challenges in the search for self-determination beyond the imposed constraints of citizenry. The visitor to the installation plays the game, the “Undocumented Drones” react to game play and may help the player along. The installation was on view at The New York Hall of Science from October 27, 2012 to January 13th, 2013 as part of the exhibition ReGeneration.

The installation has been produced with the help of Cesar and Vishal, two young men who immigrated to the United States as young children. Their experiences and observations helped develop the game and determined the final goal of the game – self-determination. The conversations with Vishal and Cesar were incredibly revealing and extended the question of citizenry beyond civil status or politics to personal psychological realities. These are personal realities that effect friendships, romantic relationships as well as day to day life. For these two young men, a defining role has been that of activists and forming a powerful community in the New York State Youth Leadership Council.

Written by ricardo

September 24th, 2015 at 11:26 am