Re: [-empyre-] the drone of metaphor and representation

Greetings Empyre!

And thanks to Angel, Ricardo and Ryan for opening up a challenging
discussion about their work in relation to the insite show. I'm curious to
hear about the opening and attendant discussions - how were the online
pieces integrated in the whole?

In terms of translation, what I like about two projects in particular,
dentimundo and lowdrone, are the multiple points of access that they
offer. Call me old school, but I find both of them readable on different
"culturally specific" levels. On the one hand, they translate border
issues into art for a more or less white new media crowd, and on the other
they translate new media into something like "potential art experience"
for a totally different crowd, down with the brown. Maybe I'd add another
level, which is just the usual public surfing around. both take aesthetic
clues from existing popular culture, rendering them both familiar and
exotic (depending on which side of the psychic border you stand on).
In this case, I am really curious about what Christina meant with
artlessness in reference to dentimundo?

I haven't been following the discussion closely enough, but I think it was
Angel who pointed out just how far north the border has extended - which
is an appropriate smudging of the boundaries in terms of slippery things
like culture and maybe even geography. Guess I'd point out that
geographically, Mexico is part of North America, while economically,
global south. And since Hidalgo Guadalupe, a huge portion of what was
Mexico is now 'El Norte'.
And, somehow all this reminds me of how just a slight shift of location,
translated David Avalos's Donkey cart sculputure from a fairly innocuous
piece of folkish art safely contained in chicano park to provacative
political gesture in front the INS - Let's just say la migra dont
appreciate art. This somehow brings me back to the points about
realization in lowdrone - how important is it for that gesture to be
actualized? That kind of work takes a totally different type of
committment (not to mention budget). Seems to me like a well located
gesture can have a bigger impact. Getting lost in the gadgetry can really
divert attention from what is being said to how.
Like would that marine become more "human" with icee in one hand, and
controls in the other? I mean, given the make-up of the US military,
chances are that guard knows all about lowriders and drones - so who is
getting humanized to who? (Reminds me to send the link to my brother in
law - he all his high tech militar vato buddies will get a kick out of

So,getting back into the what: what is being translated exactly? And to
who? Like the discussion here expands on the technology familiar in this
specific sphere - so, like the whole fetish function of hyrdraulics
doesn't even come into play. Not to mention all the other high tech
gadgetry needed to deck out a ride. Surely, that is the most important
tech feature of any self-respecting lowrider! This point already locates
this discussion in a very different space from that other net space where
people are leaving comments about lowdrone, asking if its real, or
pointing out the contradictions in high flying lowriders - the work is
reaching way outside of the cultural landscape of border interventions.
That imaginary space of appropriation is interesting to me because so many
threads collide. here, some aspect of technology is being claimed for
subversive purposes, through the act of naming, but it flies both ways.

paz from berlin,


>>i wonder about the need for "realization" of the technology in all cases.
> I'm entirely in agreement with this and I recall as well the first time
> I saw cybraceros and thinking just that - "no way, what am I seeing!?"
> And I agree that actual realization isn't necessary to have an effect.
> Perhaps due to my familiarity with LowDrone I failed to reach that
> moment of suspension of disbelief.
> That said, I still think that a public staging of LowDrone would not
> only be a good deal of fun, but would also lead to some interesting
> dialogue.
> While I attended the opening events of inSite and and stood near the
> border fence in Playas, Tijuana, (where LowDrone was flown), a marine on
> the other side of the border approached our group to see if there was a
> paletero(icee cart) near by that we could call over for him.  One person
> in our group went on to have a friendly discussion with the marine as
> she asked him if such an exchange would be appropriate ...  This was a
> moment when Gatekeeper (the military name for the San Diego/Tijuana
> section of the border) was humanized.
> At that moment it was apparent that the marines posted at the border
> were bored and hot, not only wanting an icee but also to chat.  I wonder
> what sort of exchange would go on, if the guards were to play along with
> LowDrone for a little while and what sort of exchange would occur
> between the young marines and any LowDrone participants?
> ricardo
> p.s. a quick reminder that next weekend is the DC March and Rally:
>> > As it stands the project exists in the realm of metaphor and
>> > representation.  I think it would be great to extend it beyond that
>> > space either through tele-performance which is suggested by the
>> > interaction presented on the website, or to enact a series of
>> > performances in which a spontaneous audience might be allowed to
>> > control
>> > the LowDrone.  This might be something similar to the Institute for
>> > Applied Autonomy's graffiti writer in which pedestrians could write
>> > their own messages using the remotely controlled graffiti vehicle and
>> > therefore enacting a form of civil disobedience.
>> > ricardo
>> i also found the Low Drone extremely funny and a challenging idea. i
>> wonder about the desire to enact a functional tactical media in this
>> case however... not because i don't find the IAA's work (and other
>> similar efforts) critically effective and interesting, but i wonder
>> about the need for "realization" of the technology in all cases. i
>> think of Alex Rivera's other well known project (were you part of this
>> too Angel?), the Cybracero . and also some of
>> the actions of other tactical media practitioners like the Yes Men. The
>> impact of cybracero for me was that it didn't require any technological
>> spectacle to create the suspension of disbelief. the theatrical (and
>> tactical) moment came out in the form of a believing disbelief...
>> "What? are you kidding me?!" predicated on an acceptance of it as
>> somehow real in the face of apparent unlikelihood. maybe this goes back
>> to our discussions about the network and locality.
>> the audience is one predicated on a certain distance - a mediated
>> distance - from the site of supposed contact. we can fall for the
>> cybracero hoax because we're already so disconnected from the realities
>> of food production (and by direct connection, the physical sites of
>> production). but it reveals that distance (between audience and
>> site/prodcution) once it's revealed as a hoax - which depends on the
>> practice of a media bound by principles of fact checking and 'truth.'
>> i'm not saying that technological manifestations of tactical media
>> aren't great and useful, but that it can also include mechanisms that
>> play on our desires/beliefs about 'functionality' from a critical
>> perspective.
>> just a thought...
>> best - ryan
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
> ricardo miranda zuñiga
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

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