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  • Mawat

    Una ley de colonización agraria del Imperio turco-otomano designó con el nombre de mawat a los terrenos desocupados dentro de sus fronteras. Para demarcarlos, la ley proporcionaba un criterio sonoro: una zona pasaba a ser mawat si los sonidos y las voces de la población más cercana dejaban de ser audibles. Mawat –muerte, en árabe– devino de este modo la característica administrativa de las tierras sin voz.

    En la instalación, una retícula de ventiladores pone en circulación el aire de la sala. De forma periódica, el movimiento se detiene y la superficie pasa a funcionar como una estructura resonante. Viejas melodías del cancionero agrícola castellano llenan el espacio durante esos intervalos.

    Al igual que en el caso otomano, la transformación del paisaje llevada a cabo por el Instituto Nacional de la Colonización estuvo basada también en la identificación y renovación de terrenos improductivos. Significativamente, uno de los aspectos llamativos de esta renovación es que muchos de los nuevos poblados nacieron sin cementerio. En Mawat, este detalle es recogido por una secuencia de imágenes alrededor de la pieza central. Ausencia, movimiento y retorno caracterizan un espacio marcadamente espectral. El sonido, en Mawat, abre la superficie y apunta a un suelo: el silencio material de la memoria.

  • Rock, Paper, Scissors

    Rock, paper, scissors is a process that addresses materially the screen in terms of surface. In between a media archaeological approach and a DIY type of diagram, it is an elaboration of a software entity that is present in every image editing application: the marching ants effect or the marquee selection. That is, the animated border of dashed lines where the dashes seem to move slowly sideways and up and down. Which is, as we know, the visible sign of a potentially immediate transformation within the surface of the screened image.

    The mechanism that creates the movement of the dashed lines is displayed here as a process of stacking separate layers. It is an operation on the screen, a play on the surface where materiality is not brought as a question of materials, but in terms instead of material relations. In this layering of surfaces, the movement of the marquee lines emerges. “After all”, in Giuliana Bruno’s words, “a surface condition creates sensitivity to the skin of things”. The interaction of a stone, a paper mask and a screen “emphasize the actual fabrics of the visual: the surface condition, the textural manifestation“.

    Devised as a physical diagram of a diy practice, Rock, Paper, Scissors recalls the notion of a “spectator-maker” suggested by Lygia Clark when writing about her piece Caminhando (Walking). There she cut repeatedly a moebius strip of paper, inviting others to do the same. In that performance, as in this material diagram, the role played by scissors, hand and the surface encounter of paper and stone is transformative. It is through techniques that their immanent forces perform and start to be sensed by us.

    Special thanks to Maria Andueza.

  • The Marching Ants series
    Photo courtesy of Jane Birkin

    The marching ants effect, also known as marquee selection, is the animated border of dashed lines often used in computer graphics programs where the dashes seem to move slowly sideways and up and down, as ants marching in line. It is the visible sign of a potentially immediate transformation within the surface of the screened image. The cut, removal or replacement of a fragment of a digital surface need first the outline of a distinguished area, bordered, separated from the rest of the image.

    "Edges are used to mark objects off from one another. Perceptually, an edge is not a thing but a way of distinguishing between things, a way of ordering the chaos of perception. The edge marks difference, and in that sense it is nothing, the nonexistence that interposes itself between everything that, by the principle of difference, is given an identity." (Cubitt 74)

    Considered however from the point of view of aerially-aided landscape operations such as parceling, ordering or leveling land, the Marching Ants entail additionally the "interaction between imaging technologies and mathematical, topographical, geographical, and governmental knowledge" characteristic of cultural techniques (Siegert 98). They are creatures of the screen that belong to a chain of operations which ends up digging, revolving or performing any other actions related to the practices on the soil carried on by infrastructural, building, mining or agricultural works.

    Photo courtesy of Jane Birkin

    Los Merinales

    In a first elaboration of the series during a week long studio workshop that took place in the Winchester School of Art, the building and removal of the Penal Colony "Los Merinales" in Seville are brought up as part of the operative chains that accomplished the hidden work behind the agrarian reform program known as the Inner Colonisation. The concentration camp was used to confine prisoners of the Spanish Civil War for more than twenty years in order to exploit them, in extreme living and labour conditions, to build the tunnels and channels of the vast irrigation network.

    While the comparison of the prisoners building the tunnels with the distinctive underground activity of ants is anything but an anecdotal coincidence, this first materialisation of The Marching Ants series highlights an episode of presence and disappearance within the infrastructural. The barely remembered penal colony of Franco's dictatorship was an ephemeral camp of disposable people, a one-use only temporal complex of buildings, barracks and services, prior and essential to the agricultural industrialization of landscape.

    In the project carried on at the WSA, the border of the colony complex is outlined also as a liminal, ephemeral operation, this time whithin the contemporary ecologies of the screen. Outlined as a dashed line mechanically set in movement, the silhouette of the colony becomes a physical marquee selection, a flow of lines meant only to highlight, temporarily, a soon-to-be transformed fragment of the whole.

    The resulting installation displays both the mechanical Marching Ants, together with the mechanisms that put them in movement. As a site-specific project developed for the workshop, the installation mixes found materials, such as wood remainders, with basic labor related tools used to put in movement the dashed line rods: painter rolls, electrical screw terminals, nails and motors.

    Find other notes on this Marching Ants series here:

    And two close-up gifs of the front and rear sides (original videos courtesy of Elham Soleimani):

  • A Mechanical GIF

    La maquinaria de una red social y la maquinaria del estado se ponen en funcionamiento en Estados de transición: un GIF mecánico. Una colección de manos de latón rotando en el reconocible gesto de aprobación o rechazo se unen en esta pieza creando una bandera cuya aparente ondulación alude tanto a la fluctuación de estados subjetivos como a la construcción de los otros Estados, representados en el símbolo de la bandera.

    En el reverso de esta, un episodio ocurrido durante la colonización belga del Congo es citado junto al mecanismo que pone en funcionamiento el movimiento del conjunto: debido a la escasez de munición, los oficiales belgas exigían a los soldados entregar por cada bala gastada una mano del esclavo cadáver. Las manos -en la pieza: de latón, el material de los casquillos de bala-, amputadas de sus cuerpos y contabilizadas, devienen finalmente iconos y moneda de cambio, en un proceso ininterrumpido de constitución de banderas.

    (texto de María Andueza)

    The machinery of a social network and the machinery of a State are put into work in A Mechanical GIF. A collection of tin hands spinning with the well-known gesture of approval or rejection compose in this piece a flag with an illusory movement of oscillation, which alludes both to the fluctuation of the states of individual subjects as to the teratological construction of collective States, represented in the symbol of the flag.

    On the back of it, an episode occured during the Belgian colonization of the Congo is cited next to the mechanism that generates the movement of the ensemble: due to ammunition shortage, Belgian soldiers were only allowed to shoot their guns against slaves -and not in lucrative activities such as hunting. Officers required soldiers to submit a hand of the killed slave for each spent bullet. This rule gave rise however to an unexpected market: stacks of hands -amputated from alife bodies- started to circulate and be traded as coins-for-bullets.

    Hands -in the piece: made of tin, the material of the cartridge of bullets-, amputated and contabilized, become the icons and bargain chip of a uninterrupted process of constitution of the monstruous, the collective and the flag.

    (text by María Andueza)

    / (1 of 8)


    A Mechanical GIF. Video presentation

    IN-SONORA opening, video by Omnivoros

    IN-SONORA opening, from outside the gallery, video by María Andueza

  • Inner Colonisation / La colonización interior
    Details of the installation
    Frontpages of an annual publication devoted to the colonization
    Pieces by María Andueza, Sandra Santana and José Otero, specifically produced as contributions to the project

    "La palabra colonización se ha empleado y se emplea en diversas acepciones, por lo que es conveniente precisar cuál es la adoptada por nosotros. Existe una colonización exterior al país y otra interior, pero cuando en España y en la legislación agraria se habla de “colonización”, se hace referencia a una modalidad de la colonización interior, que es la colonización que lleva a efecto la Administración del Estado por medio del Instituto Nacional de Colonización."

    Alejo Leal García. La transformación del medio rural a través de la puesta en regadío y de la colonización (1969)

    El proyecto La colonización interior propone una exploración de la acción operada por el Instituto Nacional de la Colonización en el paisaje rural durante los años 1939-1973 como una arqueología de las transformaciones contemporáneas ligadas a la ubicuidad digital. Infraestructuras como los sistemas de parcelación de la tierra, desecaciones de lagunas, movimientos de población y fotografía aérea del territorio son presentados como dispositivos semejantes a la fragmentación digital, su articulación en bases de datos y su dependencia de la explotación de recursos humanos y geológicos.

    A través de un muestrario de alteraciones de documentos, herramientas y vestigios, el proyecto trata de atravesar estas mutaciones industriales del paisaje como un espacio de forja de lenguajes, procesos de lectura y escritura, formas de mirar e invisibilizar y, en última instancia, de devenir memoria o resto.

    La colonización interior es un laboratorio abierto que, adicionalmente, ha sido recorrido y expandido durante la residencia en El Ranchito por otros artistas como José Otero, Sandra Santana y María Andueza, desplegándolo con aportaciones específicamente realizadas para el proyecto.

    "The word colonisation has been and continues to be employed with various meanings, which makes it fitting to specify which particular meaning we have adopted. Colonisation can be external to the country as well as domestic; when in Spain and in agricultural legislation we see references to "colonisation", this is a reference to a type of internal colonisation, that is carried out by the State Administration by means of the National Institute of Colonisation."

    Alejo Leal García. La transformación del medio rural a través de la puesta en regadío y de la colonización (1969)

    The project Inner colonisation explores the actions of the Natioanl Institute of Colonisation in rural areas between 1939 and 1973, as an archaeology of contemporary transformations linked to digital ubiquity. Infrastructure like land parcelling systems, drying of lakes, population displacements and aerial photography of land are presented as devices similar to digital fragmentation, to its management by databases, and to its dependency on the exploitation of human and geological resources.

    By displaying a set of alterations operated to documents, tools and remains, the project seeks to examine the country's industrial changes to landscape as a space for the synthesis of languages, of reading and writing processes, of methods to visibilize as well as to hide and, ultimately, becoming a memory or a remnant.

    Inner colonisation is an open lab which, furthermore, has been explored and broadened during the El Ranchito residency by other artists such as Jo?e Otero, Sandra Santana and María Andueza, who have developped it with project-specific contributions.

    Aerial photography, 1956 and 2014. Left: Vegaviana, a settlers' town founded in 1955; right: colonization at the Borbollón dam (software reconstruction). Source of the image tiles: Spanish National Geographic Institute (IGN),
    Image courtesy of José Otero

    A blog post for the WSA research blog:

    A post by Fernando Broncano about Inner Colonisation (spanish only):

  • Double Gaze

    Búsqueda en Flick, "autoretrato cámara". Filtra los resultados, "Creative Commons". Localiza la posición de la cámara en la imagen. Guarda los datos. Construye una base de datos.

    Double Gaze (Mirada doble) consiste en un lienzo en línea donde las imágenes de personas con una cámara, retratándose a sí mismas en el espejo, son vinculadas con la posición del cursor en la pantalla. La pantalla digital es presentada como un espacio resonante de dos vías, donde percibimos e interactuamos mientras que somos percibidos- rastreados y monitoreados - así como multiplicados, reverberados y explotados acústicamente.

    Esta pieza, una referencia directa al trabajo del artista español Joan Fontcuberta, se compone de la noción de la post-fotografía y la expande dentro de lo post-digital. La profusión y repetición de las mismas imágenes y motivos aparece como una operación que va más allá de lo visual. La superficie de la pantalla fragmenta la visión de la óptica frontal para dar paso a un espacio envolvente, una perspectiva orbital que nos rodea a través de la fotogrametría, mutiplicando, resonando, y expandiendo acústicamente los actos de nuestra visión.

    Double Gaze toma su nombre de la obra de land art del artista Michael Heizer, Double Negative (doble negativo). Es una insición dentro del material visual, el abismo geológico donde la retroalimentación, modulación y repetición ocurren en múltiples escalas al mismo tiempo que la la reverberación de lo intersubjetivo, no humano.

    Es la visión actuando. Una amplificación resonante de un material, de un recipiente envolvente.

    Flickr search, “self-portrait camera”. Filter results, “creative commons”. Locate the position of the camera in the image. Save the data. Build a database.

    Double Gaze consists of an online canvas where images of people with a camera portraying themselves in the mirror are linked to the position of the user’s pointer on the screen. The digital screen is presented then as a two-way resonant space, where we perceive and interact while being at the same time perceived -tracked and monitored- as well as multiplied, reverberated and acoustically exploded.

    The piece, a direct reference to the work of Spanish artist Joan Fontcuberta, elaborates on his notion of the post-photography to expand it into the post-digital. The current profusion and repetition of the same images and motifs appear here as an operation that goes beyond the visual. The screen-surface fragments the optical frontal vision to give rise to an enveloping space, an orbital perspective that surrounds us photogrammetrically, multiplying, echoing, acoustically expanding each of our acts of vision.

    Double Gaze takes the title from the iconic lard artwork of Michael Heizer, Double Negative. It is an incision within the empty resonance of the material visual, the geological abyss where feedback, modulation and repetition occur at multiple scales as the bouncing reverberation of the intersubjective, nonhuman manifold.

    It is vision performing itself. A resonant amplification of a material, enveloping vessel.

  • Mineral Vision

    Visión mineral consiste en una pantalla de polvo de cobre sostenida por una estructura de madera. Cuando la superficie es observada a través de la cámara de un dispositivo digital -un teléfono movil o una tablet, por ejemplo- el siguiente mensaje, enterrado bajo el cobre, y escrito por primera vez por el historiador romano Tácito, se hace visible: “Crean un desierto y lo llaman paz”.

    La pieza descubre al espectador la mirada característica que nos consigna insistentemente el contexto digital: la de un mundo asimilado, legible y procesado por redes de dispositivos ubicuos. El polvo de cobre, rastreado por los móviles de los espectadores -como la superficie de la Tierra, por drones y satélites- queda transformado en pantalla, en emisor de lenguajes humanos, en espera de dispositivos clientes.

    Visión mineral, sin embargo, va más allá de la posibilidad de la decodificación. El cobre, elemento indispensable de la infraestructura digital, aparece en primer plano como una presencia material, bruta y a-lingüística. Frente a la explotación industrial de minerales y personas, el diálogo electrónico es un encuentro de escalas y duraciones, la geológica y la humana.

    Si, como apuntaba Spinoza, “no somos nosotros quienes afirmamos o negamos algo de una cosa, sino que es ella misma quien afirma o niega en nosotros algo de sí misma”, Visión mineral afirma en nosotros las palabras del científico ruso de fin de siglo, Vladimir Vernadsky: “Somos minerales caminantes, minerales parlantes”.

    Mineral Vision consists of a screen made of copper dust hold by a wood structure. When the surface is observed through the lens of a digital device -e.g. a smartphone or tablet- a message, buried in the copper, and written for the first time by Roman historian Tacit, becomes visible: “Where they create a desert, they call it peace”.

    The pieces unveils to the viewer the characteristic gaze that the digital context persistently demands: that of an assimilated and legible world, processed by networks of ubiquitous devices. Copper dust, scanned by smartphones of viewers -as the surface of the Earth, by drones and satellites- becomes a screen, a human language emitter, waiting for client devices.

    Mineral Vision, however, intends to transcend the possibility of decoding. Copper, a basic element within the digital infrastructure, appears in the forefront as a material presence, raw and a-linguistic. Instead of an industrial exploitation of minerals and humans, the electronic dialogue is an encounter of scales and durations, the geologic and the human.

    If, as Spinoza noted, “it is never we who affirm or deny something of a thing; it is the thing itself that affirms or denies something in us”, Mineral Vision affirms in us the words of russian scientist of early 20th, Vladimir Vernadsky: “We are walking, talking minerals.”

    Visión Mineral from Abelardo Gil-Fournier on Vimeo.

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  • A coltan collar

    A coltan collar is a device consisting of a motor-driven mechanism that ends in a moving head covered with sandpaper that slowly erodes a zinc plate painted in blue. The machine needs an internet connection to work, as it detects tweets sent from devices located in an geographical sector in central Africa, the one where most of the minerals needed for the hardware inside digital systems are extracted from, with barely no revenue for local economies but extremely hard working conditions.

    Whenever a tweet sent from this area is detected, the machine performs a movement, transforming the digital act into the mechanical work of eroding the colored plate. This erosion recalls an extraction process of rare earth minerals, as it unveils under the bright blue colored surface its hidden mineral support.

    While the production of digital hardware continues to depend on labour exploitation, the affective economies of social networks rely on the exploitation of data exchanged by users within their free online services. A coltan collar plays with the interweaving of these two different types of exploitation, as users tweeting from the selected region in central Africa are the workforce in a system that recalls the illegal mining labour embedded in every digital device. It is a domestic image-machine, whose presence brings to the everyday space this dual notion of exploitation diffused in digital systems.

  • Vividness
    Vividness - at Culturehub (NY, 2013) Photo courtesy of Babak Andishmand

    Project homepage:

    This is an installation where a light mechanism renders an arrangement of dried flowers into an illusory regime of artificial vitality through the real-time manipulation of colors. By means of a digital projector, colors are sent to the dried leaves and flower in a way that the resulting image shows no colors at all.

    Living plants are first cut and dried so their surface is able to reflect the projected colors and create the illusory grayscale image. The projector lightens then the scene with a rhythmically oscillating color pulse so that the arrangement seems to come to life in a sustained digital breath.

    The flow of light in the installation miniaturizes somehow the complex of processes of substitution, replacement and transformation where mechanical, chemical and digital revolutions have relied on. This setup of a controlled phenomenon, however, is open, and bodies of visitors can interrupt the projection beam when crossing the installation space. Seen from this proximity, the arrangement reacts to residual lights and shows its old colors.

    In his Negative Dialectics, Theodor Adorno stated that there is a space where to catch the indelible color: “Only the utmost distance would be proximity”. This radical distance becomes a bodily presence inside Vividness, a proximity which enables to alter the phenomenon as well as rewrite it.

  • Hello World! Processing

    Co-directed with Raúl Alaejos, produced by Ultra-lab

    Hello World! Processing is a documentary on creative coding that explores the role that ideas such as process, experimentation and algorithm play in this creative field featuring artists, designers and code enthusiasts. Based on a series of interviews to some of the leading figures of the Processing open programming platform community, the documentary is built itself as a continuous stream of archived references, projects and concepts shared by this community.

    The documentary is published under a Creative Commons license in the site .

  • TAMAL - Game engine for collaborative game design

    Artist María Andueza and me were invited by the Culturambiente association to propose a workshop on game design as part of the spanish cooperation agency (AECID) program of activities.

    We designed a specific game engine and proposed a collaborative creation workshop. We were able to conduct it in the Cultural Center of Spain both in Managua (Nicaragua) and San Salvador (El Salvador).

    The workshop consisted of a two week process where participants -graphics designers, programmers and environmental activists- produced since the beginning of their learning process interactive sequences to be aggregated to the final game.

    Review of the resulting videogame by the newspaper La Prensa Gráfica (spanish):

  • The Croopier: Archive of game situations 2008-2010

    The first epoch of The Croopier was a time specific game production project. It portrayed different issues highlighted by the news media industry as games published weekly in a web environment.

    Among other issues, it exposed the treatment meted out by public authorities to the arrival of boats with undocumented immigrants as a recurrent and solution-less tetris; the Gaza conflict as a medieval witches’ Sabbath; and the regulated layoff of jobs as a problem of permanently unbalanced scales.

    The micro-games archive of The Croopier is a playful and polymorphous way of observing contemporary global mediatization. More tellingly, it questions the ongoing transformation of world affairs into events ready for consumption and entertainment, a conversion deactivating both the information itself and the receiver’s power to act beyond the news.


    OffWorld at Boing Boing Brandon Boyer, 2009 News Games: The Croopier’s weekly experimental Processing mini-games

    Digital Tools. Game Design, Games and Computer Art Martin Wisniowski, 2009 The Croopier: Weekly Open-Source Mini-Game in Processing!

    ArteContexto 25 - New art forms, new markets Mónica Núñez, 2010 ArteContexto num. 25, pp. 37-39 (2010)

    Of the Odyssey 100 to NewsGames - a genealogy of the games as information Geraldo A. Seabra, Luciene A. Santos

    NewsGames (2012)


    Mediateca Expandida. Arcadia Collective exhibition curated by José Luis de Vicente Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial (Gijón, Spain - 2009)

    Over the Game Collective exhibition curated by Zemos 98 and Flavio Escribano Espacio Iniciarte (Sevilla, Spain - 2009)

  • Perspective I

    Project website:

    Perspective (I) is an interactive installation for public spaces of transit. In consists of an algorithm where a few invisible animated circles with a small random movement intersect among themselves producing a set of lines of light, these being shown on a projection.

    The generated illusion of space and depth and the installation's revealing sensibility and reaction to visitors movement, invite to a joint reflection over the constantly dealt nature of our relation and perception of space.

    Review of the installation by the online cultural magazine CeldaTV:

  • Acoustic Vibrations. Berzosa del Lozoya

    In collaboration with María Andueza. Site specific public space installation of sound devices consisting of a series of large grids of mirrors covering loudspeakers which emit very low, vibrating, frequencies of sound. The sound emitted was similar to the one produced by the heaters of the place, and caused a movement in the mirrors which were reflections of the peculiar stone walls of the village.

  • Facebots - Bots of Trust

    Website of the project:

    Bots of trust (aka Facebots) is an installation that consists of a grid of devices similar to points of sale terminals. The bots are specifically designed machines displaying the mechanisms of customer engagement in large online retail stores, with the aim of rendering them experienceable to visitors.

    Each bot downloads a list of "Recommended items" from a popular e-commerce platform. The list is then codified into an image, where human-like faces are detected. Faces are printed, together with the articles they come from, mimicking how customers are gradually being codified inside the databases of algorithm-driven online stores.