Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

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The New Normal, for Now

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Bartel-Pritchard Entrance, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Saturday April 11th 2020

It’s the Saturday before Easter Sunday, April 11th 2020 and Prospect Park is active. Not nearly as active as on a pre-pandemic beautiful spring Saturday afternoon, but still people are jogging and cycling, some respectfully wearing masks or bandanas. Families are playing games and exercising or merely enjoying the sun. Everyone is trying to keep at least a six foot distance, however, with so much movement, it’s not always possible.

In Windsor Terrace, neighbors visit and chat from a “safe” distance. Shoppers line up around the corner from the butcher, at least six feet apart, waiting for their opportunity to shop. The liquor store has both its back door and front door open, air streams through as a sign outside instructs that only the paying customer should enter. It appears that a majority of people are wearing masks and gloves. Unfortunately, still there are many who do not, particularly the athletes. Huffing and puffing, mouth breathing runners of all shapes and ages, focus on their exercise with little consideration of those around them or the trails of breath and saliva that they leave behind. I’m no athlete, but my bike is my primary form of transportation and I wear glasses, but I still wear a mask. I recognize that I may unwittingly either catch or pass COVID-19 while getting about in public space, so although I bike in traffic and my glasses get fogged up due to the mask, I recognize that it’s the responsible thing to do.

According to the New York City’s Department of Health there are nearly 100,000 confirmed cases. 24,846 cases in Brooklyn. I assume that we all want to flatten the curve and return to a more normal existence. In a make believe world, we would all freeze in place, cocoon at home for two or three weeks and it would miraculously disappear. Of course, that is not going to happen, so why not wear a mask in public space? Throughout the history of pandemics, masks have been an essential tool to keeping viruses from moving from individual to individual, so why not wear a mask? No one likes them, no one wants to walk or run or cycle with a mask, but it seems like a small effort at this time. And it’s only for a relatively short period of time. With 25,920 people hospitalized in the city, I’m dumbfounded at why people will not wear a mask, handkerchief, or anything to cover their mouths and noses.

Since this virus will not magically disappear, this is our reality for the next several months. In the new normal, we should all exercise and enjoy the sun. We should be able to walk the streets or parks, chat with people and enjoy some sports. If we all do so thoughtfully and take appropriate precautions, including wearing masks, I believe that the new normal will be a bit more bearable. Besides, what thoughtful New Yorker wants to be a sociopath like Trump who declares that he is not wearing a mask as citizens die.

Written by ricardo

April 11th, 2020 at 4:27 pm

Tropicana Face Shield

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As the ease of the spread of COVID-19 becomes increasingly apparent, I decided to try and make a face shield from a commonly available product – a Tropicana bottle of orange juice. I generally do not drink juice, but recently decided to buy oj to have around for my kid. As COVID-19 exploded onto New York City, the Tropicana bottle neared emptiness. Once it all had been drunk it went into the recycling bin. At this time a friend sent me a link to DIY face shields and a call to artists to make them if they had plastic sheets. I did not have any plastic sheets. However, following a particularly alarming walk in my neighborhood, I pulled it out. I thought, who knows, rather than recycling, it may be immediately useful. Turns out that a Tropicana bottle makes for a reasonable face shield, all be it that I have no idea what the appropriate gauge is for a face shield, but hey it is solid plastic and holds liquid in.

Here’s the finished cut up Tropicana bottle as face shield. It works great to cover my entire face, but I have glasses, so it feels better to be worn below my glasses. After the initial wearing, the rubber band broke, so an elastic band works best.

Tropicana face shield over dust mask and below glasses. Works over entire face.


I shared a video on FB making this… https://www.facebook.com/ricardo.miranda1/videos/10102086965865719/

COVID-19 NYC Map

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A couple zip codes in Lower Manhattan

The last 24 hours I have been obsessed about comparing the COVID-19 case map that the NYC Department of Health made available with NYC population and median household income according to zip code (as the DOH map is layed out). So I added to the DOH map.

All the data is old at this point – DOH case map is two days old (March 31st). The population and income data is from the 2010 census. (I can probably find more recent income data.) But I was curious to get a sense of how these numbers compare with cases. Of course the population data presents a direct correlation – density tends to mean more coronavirus cases.

Only select zip codes have data as I was scraping it by hand. The data that is available can be toggled on and off as the map is initially (upon loading) way too crowded: http://rmz.nyc/covid/covidNYC_Map.html

Written by ricardo

April 2nd, 2020 at 7:26 pm

Coronavirus: Trump’s New Reality Show

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Trump was tiring before COVID-19, now he’s constantly taking his audience on a rollercoaster ride. At a March 24th press meeting, a reporter asks Trump – who suggested Easter as the date when the country could go back to work? Trump responds – “I just thought it was a beautiful time, a beautiful timeline. It’s a great day…”

As late as March 27th, Trump remained hopeful that the country would go back to work on April 12th Easter Sunday. Then two days later on March 29th, Trump states that social distancing is to continue through April 30th. The ignorant but “beautiful” Easter timeline, he now refers to as “aspirational.”

Why does anyone take what this guy says seriously and more importantly, why does the media continue to air him? KUOW of Seattle has taken the correct stance: “KUOW recently made an editorial decision to stop airing White House briefings on the coronavirus pandemic live on a daily basis. We will continue to cover these briefings – but believe it is imperative that they are fact-checked, which is a challenge during a live broadcast.”

When not reading a script, Trump says what pops into his head while a country is listening, this is incredibly irresponsible. Later, he is corrected by the numbers and experts, but rather than recognizing his ignorant statements, he reframes them and blames the Media as fake news. Meanwhile, there are still people listening to him. Trump creates false expectations and takes people on a rollercoaster ride unnecessarily at a time when it’s best to take the long view and prepare people for the most factual possibilities, not false realities based on his whims. Of course, as a born millionaire who has never dealt with reality, he’s accustomed to creating his own televised realities, and he’s at it now, he can’t help it. However, now there is a pandemic and people are dying. This man should be held accountable for making shit up and not properly preparing this country in January 2020.

Written by ricardo

March 30th, 2020 at 8:28 am

ICE Rushes to Return Detained Migrants as Need for Laborers Soars

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Immigrant labor across the US, many undocumented must be protected

I’m waiting to read the following headlines “ICE Rushes to Return Detained Migrants as Need for Laborers Soars” and “The Federal Government Will Provide Health Care and Sick Leave to Undocumented Work Force.” If we use the San Francisco Department of Public Health order for “SHELTER IN PLACE” declared yesterday, a majority of the “Essential Businesses” are manned my immigrants:

  • Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, supermarkets;
  • Food cultivation, including farming, livestock and fishing;
  • Gas stations, auto-supply and auto-repair;
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry services;
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out;
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers;
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;
  • Taxis, transport workers;
  • Childcare facilities;

Each of these areas and more are now considered Essential Businesses that are fulfilled by Essential Function Workers. As I read through the list, these are jobs that immigrants are commonly the employees; not only immigrants but many undocumented immigrants. Consider your food delivery guys, the childcare nannies, the laundromat and dry cleaning employees, the senior care employees, farm workers (40-50% are undocumented)… Over the last few years, the undocumented immigrant workforce has been at rising risk of losing the lives they have fought to construct in this country as ICE has ramped up raids. Now, as CORONAVIRUS runs its course across the United States, there will be an increasing need for this immigrant labor force.

Unfortunately the country’s social net has deteriorated over the last forty years of rampant neoliberalism and increasing inequality. Suddenly, Trump’s tax cut and slashing of the social welfare will have significant ramifications. I wonder what support these essential laborers will be given if they become sick and can no longer go to work. If we are calling the food delivery workers, farm workers, supermarket employees, laundromat employees, delivery workers (Amazon plans to hire a new thousand), gas station employees, Uber/taxi driver, home caretaker – essential function workers – will the country help them if they become ill? All the laborers that do not have green cards or work permit or social security number – what support will they be given for risking their lives?

Written by ricardo

March 17th, 2020 at 7:34 am

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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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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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Donald & Donald

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Donald Sterling with Donald Trump

Donald Sterling: “Donald why are you fucking it up for us?”
Donald Trump: “Fuck off Donald! You don’t see the end game.”

Written by ricardo

October 12th, 2016 at 4:39 pm

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