Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

Reading: The Making of the Indebted Man (note 1)

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I’ve been reading Maurizio Lazzarato’s 2011 book The Making of the Indebted Man translated to English and published by semiotext(e) in 2012. If some of the promises from the last two years – to excuse student debt, to acknowledge institutionalized racism as a national level, I feel that we have come a long way over the last 10 years and since the last financial disaster in considering how the system is rigged and how to begin to chip at it, to create a more equitable society. Perhaps this is too hopeful.

Lazzarato is clear and direct and presents a rich set of resources for anyone looking to jump into researching a history of debt and our current financial mechanisms. Many of his ideas and critiques could easily be applied to more recent altcoins and fintech tools. I’m going to copy below a few sequences that strongly stand out to me, mostly for my own notes, but perhaps others will be interested…

From the Forward

Through readings of Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality and Marx’s theory of money, it will help us revive two hypotheses. The first, that the paradigm of the social lies not in exchange (economic and/or symbolic) but in credit. There is no equality (of exchange) underlying social relations, but rather as asymmetry of debt/credit, which precedes historically and theoretically, that of production and wage labor. The second hypothesis, that debt represents an economic relationship inseparable from the production of the debtor subject and their “morality.” The debt economy combines “work on the self” and labor, in its classical sense, such that “ethics” and economics function conjointly. The modern notion of “economy” covers both economic production and the production of subjectivity. Traditional categories rooted in 19th and 20th century revolutions – labor, society, and politics – are now informed and in large measure have been redefined by debt. (Pg. 11)

From Chapter 1 Understanding Debt as the Basis of Social Life

Credit bring us back to a situation characteristic of feudalism, in which a portion of labor is owed in advance, as serf labor, to the feudal lord. – Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects (pg. 13)

Debt acts as a “capture,” “predation,” and “extraction” machine on the whole of society, as an instrument for macroeconomic prescription and management, and as a mechanism for income redistribution.” (Pg. 29)

This is generally true for any financial mechanism; they are funded by and created for the rich to accumulate greater wealth. Take for example FinTech software from Robinhood to Coinbase to alt coins, the goal of many of these are not to democratize investment, but to break into the pockets of a larger population and use their money.

“We have moved from Fordist regulation, which privileged the industrial and debtor side, to financial regulation, which prioritizes the financial and creditor side.” (Pg. 30)

But debt is a universal power relation, since everyone is included within it. Even those too poor to have access to credit must pay interest to creditors through the reimbursement of public debt; even countries too poor for a Welfare State must repay their debts. (Pg. 32)

Written by ricardo

August 7th, 2022 at 4:29 pm

Chasing Bits a Web Platformer Game

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“Chasing Bits” a Web Platformer that Considers the Pitfalls of Alt Coins

“No Media” is an online exhibition featuring art work entirely made from code. This means no media files – no jpg or gif or png or mp3 or wav or mp4 or webm or any type of self-contained file type. When I was invited to participate in this exhibition, it was a tricky proposition for me as I’m primarily a visual artist who uses software and generally when I code it’s in an environment such as Visual Studio with Unity. My web projects tend to include SVGs created in Illustrator or video or audio files… But I greatly appreciated the invitation and the challenge to work differently. However, I’m not a good coder, generally, I hack things together or review endless tutorials. In grad school at Carnegie Mellon University, I was allowed to enroll in the Computer Science intro to programming undergraduate course. This is a course designed to weed out those who will not go on to become programmers; I lasted three weeks.

I regularly use javascript, the language of the web, I wanted to make something that would be fun for people to interact with and I had been researching digital currencies for the last couple of years for another project. Since I was 11 years old, I’ve loved platformers due to my initiation as Activision’s Pitfall Harry in 1982. So I decided to take Marijn Haverbeke‘s entirely code-based javascript platformer game covered in his book Eloquent Javascript and inject it with a bit of Bitcoin and alt coin content. I feel that the platformer presents the ideal game metaphor for the dreams and pitfalls of alt coins. The game titled Chasing Bits has audio, but it’s the browser’s speech synthesis that reads a hidden text (no media). And there are emojis that may appear to be image files, but are also bits of code. (It’s probably time to add the death emoji.). There is one live data feed – the current value of Bitcoin which you may update throughout the game.

Since web audio generally requires a user event, players must click a button to trigger the browsers reading of the following passage:

What happens when a utopian idea for a decentralized currency gains adoption in the midst of hypercapitalism? Speculative investors looking to get rich quick, loose. The early bird gets the worm, the rest just dig for fools gold. Or perhaps the current value of bitcoin will triple and you head straight to the Cayman Islands to sip on rum and coke as you lazily sway in a hammock between shade and sunlight.

Unfortunately it is 2022, the U.S. government slowed the printing of free money, inflation has risen, uncertainty has set in and the happy go lucky period of Bitcoin and alt coins has taken a pause. Sit tight, wait 10 years and just maybe those Ethereum coins will be worth eighty thousand each! Or perhaps, the Financial Action Task Force may just clamp down and regulate Bitcoin and digital currencies due to money laundering and other criminal use of digital currencies. No one knows what lays ahead. So meanwhile, why not chase those bits…

I can not afford real property, so I buy land in the metaverse. I like going there in the evenings when I sit alone and wonder when others will join. Perhaps I will rent out some space and make more bits. However, I don’t like it when the earth quakes.

As soon as Bitcoin peaks again, I will buy a pig to store clones of all my primary organs, this way I will double my life span and live to a 180 and by then I will own a country in the meta verse and deliver my own currency. My anti gravity suit will keep me looking young. Meanwhile I will continue chasing bits.

Try the Chasing Bits, listen to that audio, check the current value of Bitcoin, I hope you are mildly entertained!

Review of “The Linguistic Errantry”

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The Linguistic Errantry by Tansy Xiao

Imagine an immersive Boschian landscape rich with metaphoric allusions of surveillance and control, such is artist Tansy Xiao’s latest creation. The desktop application “The Linguistic Errantry” puts the user/player in a surreal yellow hued environment populated by singing giraffes, floating goldfish, levitating eggs, flying surveillance cameras and a giant broken egg with octopus tentacles dancing about. In a desert-like setting, enclosed by rock cliffs, Marxist monuments stand erect but their heads are 19th century copper and brass diving helmets. A buddha on lotus monument is surrounded by surveillance monitors that show the world itself as captured by the roving surveillance cameras. This world reflects upon “the totalitarian lockdown in Shanghai.”

“The Linguistic Errantry” is a first person roaming world. Walk past any of the 14 giraffes and you will hear it singing brief notes.

Each giraffe is set to sing a measure constituting 2-4 notes and nonlinguistic lyrics deconstructed from L’Internationale. When two giraffes collide, they adopt each other’s measure to add to their own array. Giraffe 0 as the only exception, is set to speak “Control / Your / Soul’s / Desire / For / Freedom” by default, instead of singing—a propaganda phrase from a government official during the totalitarian lockdown in Shanghai, when the whole country entered an Agambenian “state of exception.” Each word occupies one slot in its array and will be gradually replaced by fragments from L’Internationale as giraffe 0 encounters the others of its kind.


As game engines have become more accessible and adopted by artists to create immersive worlds layered with meaning and cultural critique, it is exciting to see Xiao adopt the game platform to create a powerful metaphoric world that easily stirs investigation and reflection in the viewer. As Xiao further describes “The Linguistic Errantry reimagines the Tower of Babel in a way that manifests the arbitrary nature of history: the consolidation and disintegration of sovereigns, an anticipated revolution to be generated by mere chance, or a parallel universe where nothing ever happens and only entropy reigns supreme.”

5D Futures Online Video Art

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5D Futures

5D Futures, group exhibition, video art portal and pavilion for The Wrong Biennale nº5 Curated by COLLAGISM, Tottenham, London, United Kingdom.

5D FUTURES is a video art portal and pavilion for The Wrong Biennale nº5 curated by Collagism. It is a journey through the Elevation of Consciousness, bringing together a selection of poignant video works from highly celebrated video artists around the world. The works navigate through the world of performance art into the digital realm of glitched hybrid realities, documentary film and How to guides.

Written by ricardo

November 10th, 2021 at 9:11 am

Posted in Contemporary Art

Notes on Viejo San Juan and Vieques

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Direct flight from JFK to San Juan, Puerto Rico

I spent July 10th through the 16th 2021 in Puerto Rico with my partner Erica – a Saturday through Friday trip. Three nights in Viejo San Juan – Saturday through Tuesday afternoon and three nights in Vieques – Tuesday evening through Friday morning. I’m writing this to record a few observations.

Upon arriving to San Juan, we were unable to connect to the free airport wifi and our cellular was not working. Although technically we were in the United States, we had no cell service and I wish I had set up international roaming ahead of travel. So Uber was out and we took the first taxi offer to the hotel, a $30 ride trip to El Viejo San Juan.

Exterior and Interior of El Hotel El Convento, nice but Airbnb would have been half the price…

In Viejo San Juan, we stayed at Hotel El Convento, a beautiful block size convent transformed into a hotel, right in the center of Viejo San Juan. The entrance is on Caleta de las Monjas and across the street on Calle del Cristo is la Catedral Basilica Menor de San Juan Bautista where one can find the remains of Saint Pius.

Next to the remains of St. Pius at La Catedral Basilica Menor de San Juan Bautista

As one would expect from a Spanish colonial building, the rooms are largely accessed from long interior corridors that look down upon a central courtyard that offers a bar and lounging. Our hotel room was comfortable with balcony doors that open to a cute view of a walking street called Escalinata de Las Monjas. However, the grand total for the three nights was over $1,100. Not worth the price! When we first booked the trip, I looked at a few Airbnbs and I regret not reserving one. It would have been half the cost. Part of the reason for the hotel were the rooftop jacuzzi and pool, but they were both very small – only enough space for a private party to enjoy. I did take advantage of the exercise room one morning, so that was a small advantage. The lesson learned, no need for a nice hotel while Airbnb is available.

Enjoying a mofongo and shrimp brunch at Hecho En Casa

Also as one may imagine, Viejo San Juan is full of tourists and the primary streets such as Calle de la Fortaleza or Calle de Tetuan or Calle de San Francisco are composed of tourist gift shops, restaurants and bars. I felt a bit as if I was in Disneyland. The food was excellent; we did not have one bad meal. Our favorite mofongo was at Hecho en Casa at the corner of Calle de San Francisco and Calle de San Justo. Our first evening out, we walked past Hecho en Casa and I thought it was just a cool looking bar, but it turned out to be an excellent restaurant. I think it was on Sunday morning that we both ordered the mofongo with shrimp, served in a small cast iron pan lined with plantain and the shrimp in its sauce in the center was delicious. At night, it seemed that Calle de San Sebastian became the party street with it partly closed off from cars. The bars were packed and no one was wearing masks, so we elected to not enter any of the crowded bars. Erica was disappointed to learn that there were no salsa clubs. We did see a few people here and there dancing salsa at some of the crowded bars, but most people stood around drinking.

Castillo de San Cristobal, Viejo San Juan

The real party is not in Viejo San Juan; it is at la Placita de Santurce which is a 20 minute drive from the center of el Viejo San Juan or as we discovered over an hour long walk. We took the scenic 90 minute route along the water. As we walked the coast, we passed La Perla, Castillo de San Cristobal, el Capitolio de Puerto Rico where a Christian group gathered to listen to a woman preach about the merits of dedication. She put forth her 30 year marriage as an example of happiness due to commitment and perseverance. I questioned the Christian admiration of longevity or in general the societal veneration of longevity whether it’s a 50 year marriage or 35 years at the same job… I considered the long marriages of my parents and aunts and uncles and they nearly all include long periods of pain as well as periods of disdain or dislike or ambivalence. It seems that in old age, they return to a deep appreciation as they have one another. But are all the years of pain or anger or hatred or ambivalence really worth it? And regarding staying at a job for decades, the people whom I know with the highest salaries moved through various institutions – each movement presenting a greater salary and more freedom. So should we really put longevity on a pedestal?

We continued along, leaving behind the Christian groups adoration at this woman’s celebration of her marriage to Balneario El Escambron, touring that small park and then crossing Highway 1 to Miramar. We walked past el Condado to La Placita. A market by day, La Placita de Santurce becomes a street party by night. We went on a Sunday night and yet the streets were full. Unlike el Viejo San Juan, it is not filled by tourists, but rather Puerto Ricans of all ages dancing, singing and drinking. Before enjoying the street festivities, we had an excellent dinner at Asere Cubano Kitchen and Bar where we enjoyed dishes of ropa vieja. Following dinner we toured La Placita and as we noticed other clubs away from the plaza, we continued down a small street. The best dancing we encountered was at a club called Delavida where couples were showing off their best New York style salsa dancing to a live group. After the live music ended, we headed back to La Placita. I think the most fun was had at the outdoor karaoke bar Santurce’s Cafe where the singing was amazing. It was a shame that La Placita was not closed off to cars as the crowds had to regularly give way to vehicles. However, as taxis circled around, it was easy to catch a taxi back to El Viejo San Juan.

The following day – Monday, June 12th, we had a half day hike in El Yunque National Forest, apparently the only rain forest in the “United States.” The hike was muddy and taxing; it offered lots of sliding and climbing. And again too many tourists. Our group alone was about 26 people, far too many people to hear details from the guides regarding vegetation and the rainforest environment. And there were other groups of hikers that we encountered and had to step aside for. The goal of this particular hike was to reach the top of a waterfall and ride it down in two parts. Adjacent to the small waterfalls were slides formed of rock, so one climbs up, jumps into the water and slides down the waterfall – a quick 20 foot or so slide. Then swim and walk to the next little slide, perhaps 10-15 feet, slide down; then climb up a rock to take a 20 foot dive into a swimming hole. And then climb and slide your way back to the parking area. It would be great to do it again, but without the tourist group and just spend the day enjoying the falls and swimming holes. The half day trip is too short considering the long drive from El Viejo San Juan into el Yunque. Our guides were great, particularly the head guide Jaime who is very charismatic. Through him I learned that one should never ask a Puerto Rican if they’ve tasted their beloved miniature frog el coquí. Particularly do not bring up the idea of fried coquí!

The next morning we packed and enjoyed a final walk around El Viejo San Juan. The previous evening, we had dinner at El Asador on Calle de San Francisco and Erica did not finish her grilled chicken. So the next morning we headed to Supermax at Plaza de Armas for a loaf of bread to tear apart and tear open to fill with grilled chicken for delicious grilled chicken sandwiches, or at least I did – half a loaf sandwich for breakfast and the second half a couple hours later. After the breakfast sandwich, I picked up a cafe con leche at Puchy’s Cafe in Plaza de Armas and it was delicious.

The hotel staff had told us that we should arrive three to two hours early to our local flight from San Juan to Vieques, because those flights have a reputation for leaving early and also taking stand by people. We arrived two and half hours early and it was entirely unnecessary! Security was quick, we headed to our gate and waited over two hours. We arrived in time for an early flight to Vieques, but they didn’t have space for us. Best to arrive an hour ahead of your local flight, an hour and twenty minutes if you really want to play it safe.

The 11-seat Traveller from San Juan to Vieques

Our Cape Air flight was a small ten person propeller plain for which each person’s weight and weight of luggage is carefully recorded. Based on our weight, we were instructed where to sit in the plane. On the flight to Vieques was a large older man who anchored the plane at the back as he excitedly talked about working for Delta many years and having flown this particular plane decades back. The planes do indeed appear 40 years old and one feels every bit of turbulence. On the flight back from Vieques one young woman, perhaps a teenager with purple hair nearly threw up.

We arrived at Vieques, but there was not a taxi in sight. We tried to pick up wifi or cellular, but no luck. I walked up the stairs to a tiny outdoor bar where a group of Americans sat drinking beer and asked the barkeep, a fat older white man the number to get a taxi. He was immediately annoyed by me, I had to ask him for the number a second time and then ask if there was wifi – the answer was a quick “no.” So I headed back to the airport entrance where Erica was waiting. She asked the airport employees for help and after trying several taxi numbers they got us ride! Apparently, we arrived when the ferry arrives, and the taxis head to the ferry as there are more customers. In fact, in the taxi van we rode with a couple who had just come off the ferry. So, if I were to travel to Vieques in the future, I would reserve a car and try to set up a pick up well ahead of arrival.

Enjoying the pool at Hacienda Tamarindo

We stayed at Hacienda Tamarindo, about a 20 minute walk from the main drag of Esperanza. The first night we dined at the only restaurant that had a table available – El Quenepo where we both ordered the local tuna. It was a pan-seared tuna at $31 that was delicious, but not as great as Duffy’s pan-seared tuna at $19 that also included fried plantains, and rice and beans (Quenepo’s tuna plate merely had a few greens). The first night Duffy’s had a long wait and after having dined there on our last evening, I understood why – fun atmosphere and great food.

Since we didn’t have a car or cell service to call a taxi, we only visited the near by beaches. We spent the first afternoon at Playa Negra, named after it’s black sand and all day Thursday at Playa Sun Bay, two excellent beach days. We didn’t spend much time in the water as Erica doesn’t swim and at Playa Sun Bay she felt a fish playing around her legs that sent her in a panic. I felt it as well and followed her out.

Wednesday evening we did the bioluminescent kayak tour at Mosquito Bay. The kayak was transparent so that we could see the glow fo the microbes that populate the bay. Our guide who lovingly gushed about the natural beauty of the bay and Vieques in general told us in detail about the bay – it’s name, it’s microbes, the stars above and the many creatures he has seen in the bay, including sharks.

“Mosquito Bay is named after “El Mosquito,” a small ship owned by Roberto Cofresí, a pirate who was a Robin Hood-type character. Cofresí often hid El Mosquito in the bioluminescent bay, which was connected to the ocean by a small, easily defensible inlet.” The large ships that Cofresí robbed could not follow him into the bay. Eventually Roberto Cofresí was captured and executed.

Following the history and bioscience lesson, our guide pulled out a laser pointer, made a couple Star Wars jokes and pointed out a few of the constellations as well as Jupiter and the Milky Way. The view of the stars from the bay is brilliant. Apparently the people indigenous to the area thought that the bay was magical because it reflected the stars or perhaps they thought the stars were born from the bay, I don’t recall the tale that the guide shared. We both loved the bioluminescent tour and only wish he had more time kayaking in the bay.

I couldn’t help but observe that our hotel and seemingly all the restaurants of Esperanza are owned by white U.S. citizens who have settled in Vieques from states like Vermont, Maine, North Carolina… The only business that appeared owned by locals were a taco cart and a small bar. A beautiful element about the island are all the roaming wild horses. Families of horses just wander about the streets and fields.

An evening stroll along Paseo de la Princessa

The trip was great, one must only be prepared to join many many U.S. tourists when staying in Old San Juan or visiting Vieques.

Written by ricardo

July 22nd, 2021 at 9:05 am

NFS NSFW NFT Exhibition Is Live!

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NFS NSFW NFT is a 3D virtual exhibition produced by members of NEW INC and Rhizome’s Art & Code track. The exhibition is on New Art City, hosting a Zoom opening, minting a NFT on Foundation, and closing with a panel at Hunter College — all, to explore the critical poetics of this particular not-for-sale, not-safe-for-work, and non-fungible-token moment. The exhibition is composed of three galleries:

The NFS garden is skinned with cryptocurrency symbols and animations. Featuring work from Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga, Mark Ramos, and Bhavik Singh.

The NSFW garden is skinned with community rules and blurred graphics that platforms use to police adult content. Featuring work from Itziar Barrio, Christopher Clary, Nahee Kim, and Pearlyn Lii.

The NFT garden is skinned with graphics that corporations use to illustrate the blockchain. Featuring work from Johanna Flato, Lula Mebrahtu, Yeseul Song, and Ziyang Wu.

I contributed two works – a mock real estate advertisement and a sphere skinned with crypto logos that houses an audio file.

I created the real estate video advertisement featuring actress Sajda Waite for a desktop and virtual reality app titled Desplazados. Desplazados is a wandering world application set in a 19th century tenement neighborhood. One explores the environment populated by disembodied voices that share observations and personal stories regarding urban gentrification and dislocation. The voices are street interviews that I conducted as the 1 billion dollar development Essex Crossing broke ground. As one spends time with Desplazados, old buildings explode and new glass towers rise. By the end of the 20 minute experience, one is surrounded by glass skyscrapers. The video advertisement is one of two scripted elements in the app.

The crypto sphere presents logos of some of the more prominent crypto or alt currencies. When one enters the sphere, you hear a snippet of a conversation with artist Grayson Earle who created Bail Bloc, a blockchain app that when running on one’s computer generates funds for the Immigrant Bail Fund of New Haven CT that aids immigrants detained by ICE. The interview is part of a project I’ve been working on over the past year titled FinTech for the Precariat that investigates the effects of emerging financial technologies. As with Desplazados the project is a desktop and VR app that will feature 12 interviews with artists, financial specialists and individuals who have been living in financial distress.

Both these projects question speculative commerce and investing and the disparity and distress that the financialization of human existence causes.

Lindsay Howard wrote an inspiring essay regarding web3 and the possibilities of decentralized currencies and collective action. Written in a manifesto style that condemns the exploitative nature of web2.0 social network corporations, the essay is titled “Innovative Economies.”

Written by ricardo

July 21st, 2021 at 4:10 pm

Remembering Enrique Bolaños

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The only decent president of Nicaragua in nearly 25 years, Enrique Bolaños died on Monday, June 14th 2021 at the age of 93. My family has been friends with the Bolaños for generations. A few years ago at my Tio Hernaldo Zuniga’s 90th birthday, I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Enrique for an extended period. He was more interested in hearing about me and what I do than talking about himself. As I told him about my creative work and using the internet/web as a creative medium and the classes that I teach, he got very excited to share his latest endeavor. He had been working with a group of assistants to create an online archive regarding Nicaragua’s history. This is an archive of historical documents and accounts, if I recall correctly a compliment and extension to his book The Struggle for Power (2017) that presents a political history of Nicaragua from 1821 to 2007 – ending with his presidency. Enrique described the effort as an online library and indeed named it as such Enrique Bolaños Bibioteca. This online library reflects Enrique’s dedication and love for his country.

As Vice President to the criminal Arnolod Aleman from 1997 to 2002, it was expected that when Enrique Bolaños took over the presidency in 2002, he would merely be a puppet of Aleman. (In Nicaragua, presidents may not serve consecutive terms.) Instead of being a puppet, President Bolaños launched an anticorruption campaign to investigate criminal acts by state employees. In August of 2002, this investigation lead to the conviction of the former president Arnoldo Aleman for fraud, money laundering and misuse of public funds totaling nearly $100 million. Following only six years of a 20 year sentence and largely served as a house arrest, Aleman was pardoned by the far more corrupt dictator Daniel Ortega.

Enrique Bolaños, an incredibly sincere and transparent individual is a surprising persona in the corrupt politics of Nicaragua. His presidency remains a hopeful moment in the country’s recent history as he was nested between a self-serving, obese thief and a maniacal dictator and lunatic vice dictator wife Rosario Murillo. One hopes that a new leader with some of the same qualities as Bolaños will rise to dethrone the Ortega-Murillo regime this election year. Unfortunately, as I write this, those candidates truly challenging the current dictatorship are being arrested.

Written by ricardo

June 20th, 2021 at 8:51 am

COVID-19 Vaccination

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Second floor vaccination facility at Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, NY. Everyone wearing masks and socially distanced. In the far background are some of the great soldiers attending the people receiving the vaccine.

I’m an Emerging Media professor at Hunter College, Department of Film & Media Studies and this past school year, I have been teaching entirely on Zoom. This semester, spring 2021, I’m teaching a new course XR Development & Design. We started the first few weeks with apps that are relatively easy to introduce and start using – A-Frame and Spark AR. A-Frame is a webvr framework that utilizes HTML, CSS and JS; it’s built on top of the javascript framework three.js that has been around for the past ten years. A-Frame makes three.js much more accessible and with an understanding of HTML and basic JavaScript, students can start constructing 3D virtual worlds that reside on the web. Spark AR is FaceBook’s augmented reality tool to create filters and other virtual artifacts that reside on Instagram or FB. Now we are getting started with Unity, a much more complex application that facilitates virtual reality and augmented reality and desktop and mobile projects… – it’s an application that allows you to build projects across platforms.

I first proposed the course a year and half ago, before the pandemic and I received an institutional grant to afford equipment for the course. I put off the course for a semester (a year ago, I had planned to teach it in fall 2020). Due to the pandemic, I understood that a VR course in which students would be sharing Oculus headsets and iPad Pros, wasn’t going to work and that it would have to wait. Sadly, I had already purchased some of the equipment, equipment that has since gone obsolete such as the Quests that are now probably slow in comparison to the Quest 2. However, as it became clear that the pandemic was not miraculously going away by Easter 2020 or summer 2020 and that the Trump administration had entirely failed to rein in the spread, I decided to re-tool the course for primarily online in order to run it this spring. Thus far, I’ve seen amazing projects created by the students and I’m excited at how they are adopting these new tools for storytelling and documentary.

Now with a new Presidential Administration in place, one that recognizes the gravity of the pandemic and has taken a much more professional roll out of vaccination, I am feeling more confident about a return to in-person teaching. One of the purchases for the class is an iPad Pro (I got funding for two, but due to the pandemic only ordered one). I ordered the iPad Pro for its LIDAR 3D scanning capability with the hope of scanning the students and having 3D versions of themselves populate their projects or scanning buildings to tell location-based AR stories… The course that I’m teaching is technically a hybrid – both online and in-person. In order to make the in-person a reality and to utilize that iPad Pro with the students, I signed up for the vaccine and this past Friday, February 26th, I received my first dose at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.

Biking my way from Flatbush to Crown Heights, I envisioned a line, who knows how long (regardless of having an appointment scheduled) and nurses attending the vaccine receivers. This was not at all what I encountered. I locked up my bike and walked up to two soldiers standing outside a long white tent adjacent to a sports facility building. I told them that I had an appointment, they asked me to pull out my documentation that I had filled out the forms and an ID and ushered me forward through the tent. At the other end, was another soldier, who again told me to have my form and id ready and sending me into the building. Up three stairs was another solider who directed me to the end of one row of a series of tables staffed by many soldiers, each sitting in front of a laptop in the lobby of this large gym. The last solider at this row of tables smiled and waived me forward. I presented my driver’s license and printed proof of having filled out the appropriate forms. He did something on the computer, perhaps searching for my appointment and verifying my data. He then directed me to a line with about six people, a line running outside a gym entrance.

I only waited in this line a few minutes. As I peered into the gym, I saw a highly organized and socially distanced temporary facility. Along the perimeters were curtained enclosures and in the center white plastic fold out chairs with people waiting. I anticipated having to wait on one of those chairs until my number was called. Instead, I was directed upstairs to another, smaller outdoor gym that was transformed into a bubble, a temporary interior gym. It had the same layout – along the walls curtained enclosed areas, each administrated by two soldiers and white plastic chairs spread out in the center. A solider escorted me to one of the curtained “rooms” where I was received by two soldiers, one behind a desk and another across from the chair that I was asked to sit on. They asked that I verify that I consented to the vaccine and asked me if I had any questions. I had been trying to find out what vaccine was being given at this location and had not found the information, so that was my first question – it was Pfizer which I was pleased about. I also asked when the second dose would be and was told that it would be in three weeks and that I would receive an email with the date and time. The soldier across from me then asked me which arm he should inject, I pointed out my left arm. The soldier injected me and told me to take a white chair and wait for 15 minutes, he handed me a paper that had hand written the time when I should leave – 2:09pm.

I sat, took the selfie above, scanned email and waited. At the far end of this gym, there was an exit and just before the exit a table with two or three soldiers who checked the time on people’s paper slips as they exited. As my minute arrived, I got up, walked to the exit, showed the soldiers, my slip, in their eyes I saw a smile as they waived goodbye.

Besides the surprise of the entire facility being militarized and feeling like I was in a movie, ET came to mind, the vaccination was incredibly smooth. No waiting in long lines, no anxiety about being inside a space with many people as everyone wore a mask and was socially distanced. The soldiers were at once courteous and efficient. It was an amazingly swift, efficient, reaffirming experience. Reaffirming in the power of a professionally organized federal, city and military collaboration. It was a visceral experience of coming out of the fog of lies, misinformation and ineptitude to a vaccine rollout that may be relied upon.

Now, I am hoping that the students who feel comfortable meeting in-person and who take all the appropriate precautions will gather for some 3D scanning following spring break and we can add a new layer to the course.

Written by ricardo

March 1st, 2021 at 8:38 am

Posted in COVID-19

2021 Vaccine Year

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Following the devastating year 2020, 2021 is a year of hope and expectation. In the United States, the most widely effected country by COVID-19, the Trump administration’s rollout of the COVID vaccines has been poor. Today, the U.S. House and Senate convene to announce electoral votes to formalize the Biden/Harris defeat of Trump/Pence. Trump zealots are gathering in DC to protest an election that over and over has shown to be fair and democratic, however, Trump continues to make false claims that agitate his following. Once the election is finalized, the zealots will grudgingly go home and Trump will decamp to Mar-a-Lago and hopefully a sense of normalcy will slowly return to politics.

Of course, many will remain resentful and angry and the country will remain highly politicized and divided. Meanwhile, I have a few predictions:

There will be a rise of mass shootings. As rage and a sense of injustice is fed from white supremacist parents to adolescents, some will act out in violence.

With the Biden administration in place, vaccine distribution will be handled by professionals and will be accelerated.

As an individual dedicated to public service, Biden will present a solemn and honest message to the country regarding the pandemic. Slowly that message will sink-in through most of the country and the spread will slow.

The Federal government will present a large stimulus aiding many individuals and small businesses.

While the stock market continues to trend up, a correction will occur that will slow wildly over valued stocks.

Global economic inequality will continue to increase.

Biden will recognize the need to help vaccinate underdeveloped and poor countries and will increase a global vaccination movement.

“Exercise snacks” will take off as a viral phrase that excites new micro-workout format.

Written by ricardo

January 6th, 2021 at 7:27 am

Trump the Election Troll

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An online troll attacks people to evoke emotional responses; activity that is considered online harassment. I’ve never taken trolling seriously; I’ve always shrugged it off and dismissed it. In observing Trump’s behavior since loosing the elections, I identify it as trolling. He uses Twitter to make false claims and to threaten other officials (the example below concerns the Georgia run-off, not Trump’s own loss):

What a fool Governor @BrianKempGA of Georgia is. Could have been so easy, but now we have to do it the hard way. Demand this clown call a Special Session and open up signature verification, NOW. Otherwise, could be a bad day for two GREAT Senators on January 5th.
12:03 AM · Dec 14, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

He lost the elections and has turned to trolling to evoke his following to be up in arms. Unfortunately, the effect of online trolling may lead to physical altercation and harm. Of course, beyond trolling the elections, Trump has his personal lawyer attempting a reversal of a democratic procedure. But at the moment, I’m more concerned about the trolling and the continued divisiveness that his online and media trolling is having upon the nation.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to merely dismiss Trump’s trolling as I do with other trolls. Yesterday morning an old friend and journalist txt’d me “did you see how trump is sending alternate electors to Congress? He is now full fledged working on a coup. No respect for our constitution or democracy.” Having woken up concerned that the final Electoral College count would not reflecting the states won by Biden – 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 and worried that Biden’s win would not be certified, this txt increased my anxiety. In response to my anxious questioning, she wrote “No. It will fail. But it’s just so disgusting.” So I relaxed, but I was feeling the effects of a troll and I was annoyed at being susceptible to Trumps trolling the 2020 Elections.

Today, Mitch McConnell finally acknowledged Biden’s win and even congratulated Vice President Elect Kamala Harris which helps me put anxieties induced by Trump’s trolling further to rest.

However, what is most worrying about Trump’s election trolling is the gathering of many hundred Trump supporters in DC this past Saturday. Watching the video of that gathering and the way these people applauded a helicopter that took Trump to the Army Navy Game reminded me of images of black and red clad Nicaraguans cheering Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. It is a confounding cult of personality.

The last +4 years, I have been dumbfounded at the spell that this egomaniacal liar has upon a large number of U.S. citizens. I find him so disgusting and yet over 70 million people voted for him. And now his trolling activity only continues the divide in this country.

I expect that Trump will be historicized amongst the most wretched presidents of this nation state, but meanwhile, I have be part of a country divided; division that could begin to calm if the trolling stopped.

Some ten years ago when my ex-spouse was trolled by someone in the midwest (we are based in Brooklyn), because he felt that her research and creative work was his domain and was essentially jealous of all the attention she was getting, she felt threatened and forced us to set up an alarm system. This was an alarm system more commonly found in a home, not really necessary in a fifth floor apartment of a Brooklyn coop. However, his messages were so menacing that my arguing against the necessity of an alarm system was ignored. The alarm system was only a costly nuisance, but this is an example of the power that internet trolls can wield. This is nothing compared to when the troll is the president.

Written by ricardo

December 15th, 2020 at 2:36 pm