[-empyre-] who can become imperceptible? and allo-viral visibilities.

Ricardo Dominguez rrdominguez at ucsd.edu
Tue Nov 17 01:48:23 EST 2009

Hola all,

Nice to be back and to share with all of you some viruses of the loving
kind, Zach and
I have had a bit of this conversation a while back. But, it is good to
restart it here. Also, last month lost of old friends were drifting by and
telling tales. I will try as we
To trace back and blink forward as we go along, and I hope that the
temporal cold wars to not keep me for responding to any of this weeks


“Is the viral what can allow us to hack into this nonexistence?” – Zach Blas

While I appreciate the questions and some of the suggested practices that
can be developed around what Max Headroom (the old cyberpunk T.V. show
from the 80’s) stories use to call “blanks” – all those who chose to live
off-the-grid and yet were still connected via the networks of
“nonexistence” – one has to who has the privilege to
become “unaccounted for?” Who has access to viral economies to deep hack
the broad context of political (network)(economie(s). Economic relations
involving debt, dependency and external determination of economic policies
set the wider framework within which the “expendability ” of lives is
determined. Social divisions and conflicts along of gender, generation,
class and race are constantly marking the wave patterns of vulnerability
for all those of-the-grid. This not to say that all networked
gestures/stories (to reflect on last month theme) have to reside under the
signs of the “transparent” and the singular tale (“No End In Sight:
Networked Art as a Participatory Form of Storytelling” -
- that complexity and translucency (the almost opaque gesture – as poet
Amy Sara Carroll has taught me) cannot be of used in developing new forms
of swarm(ate)s – as was the case with above essay in terms of the Toy War.
But, I would venture to say that they are only “affective gesture” that
are “effective” for me work - if they are (dis)located in the visibilities
of the unseen. What the viral economies offer is the possibility of “minor
simulations” to trace out what is being blocked-out of sight and at the
same time made too visible as “allo-viruses.”

For instance, just a few days ago (November 12th, 2009) a story appeared

that was then quickly picked up by boing boing:


and now the viral pings not only tell the tale of the tool (which most of
this list has
heard about now quiet a lot for a while) – but, have setup a staging event
for Web 2.0 (as public culture) to respond to the multiple fears of 

Anonymous, on Nov 14, 2009 wrote:
This isn’t revolutionary or progressive. This is treason. These Mexicans
are eating America alive, starting with California.

Anonymous, on Nov 14, 2009 wrote:
Is there an app that will screen for communicable disease, immunize them
against becoming a petri dish for future contagions and maybe screen out
the hard core gangster illegal aliens?

Anonymous, on Nov 13, 2009 wrote:
I hope this tool is also planning on paying out of own pocket for the
health care and public funds needed to support all the illegal
immigrants.. what a utter tool.

At what point does subverting national law for the purpose of helping
people with no medical or criminal background check come into our country
and spend tax payer money for their personal gain come across as a good
idea to someone?

(Of course I selected what are the most extreme “anonymous” at VICE
magazine, it also work reading the boing boing responses, as well as
tweets and blog-outs on the

So, the question at this moment, is not the we have worked invisibly on
the tool the project has been in development since 2007 and it has been
meme in and out several times.

Which brings to the main point about hacking the virus economies – stage
one, conceptual construction – (dis)locating invisibility for
translucency; stage two,
machinic poetics as minor simulation(s); stage three, meme-performativies for
“allo-viruses” reloads.  This performative matrix then break-open
to the disjuctive-synthesis under-mining not of code qua code  - but of
the social code of borders with-out love or hospitality. Indeed this is an
“utter” tool – a tool for
speaking tales of the unseen – of that which is (utterly) lost with-out love.

P.S. Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
XXX, Edna St. Vincent Millay

The poems—“Al-Khwārizmī,” “Precession,” “Transition,” and
“Dubliners”—are representative of my collaboration with Electronic
Disturbance Theatre (EDT) on the Transborder Immigrant Tool. If the tool
is slated to be distributed locally through NGOs on the Arizona-Mexico and
California-Mexico border, but also imagined as a global project under
development, my own involvement in that ongoing process is linked to the
question of what constitutes sustenance in the quotidian of the
conceptual, on the varied musical scales of the micro- and macro-. For,
often—rightly enough—conversations about crossing the Mexico-U.S. border
refer to disorientation, sun exposure, lack of water. The Transborder
Immigrant Tool attempts to address those vicissitudes, but also to
remember that the aesthetic—freighted with the unbearable weight of
“love”—too, sustains. A poetic gesture from its inception, the Transborder
Immigrant Tool functions, via the aspirations of such a dislocative
medium, as dislocative media, seeking to realize the possibilities of
G.P.S. as both a “global positioning system” and, what, in another
context, Laura Borràs Castanyer and Juan B. Gutiérrez have termed, a
“global poetic system.” The Transborder Immigrant Tool includes poems for
psychic consultation, spoken words of encouragement and welcome, which I
am writing and co-designing in the mindset of Audre Lorde’s pronouncement
that “poetry is not a luxury.” The particular poems included here—part of
that larger collection, which codeswitches between languages—are for a
predominantly English-speaking audience, who recognizes uncanny connection
(i.e., for the sake of a Dublin/Belfast presentation, that of the Irish
and the Mexican, historically made manifest in pheonomena like the San
Patricios, artistically acknowledged vis-à-vis travelling exhibitions such
as the 1995-97 Distant Relations). Postscriptually, Derrida’s vision of
hospitality, indexed as scrolling text in “Dubliners,” speaks to the
Transborder Immigrant Tool’s overarching commitment to global citizenship.
For, the excerpt, itself infused with the “transversal logic” of the
poetic, acts as one of the Transborder Immigrant Tool’s internal
compasses, clarifying the ways and means by which I and my collaborators
approach this project as ethically inflected, as transcending the local of
(bi-)national politics, of borders and their policing.


Text of poems: Amy Sara Carroll
Video poems design: Ricardo Dominguez, Micha Cárdenas, and Elle Mehrmand
Voices included in the poems: Micha Cárdenas, Amy Sara Carroll, Césaire
Carroll-Dominguez, Patrick Carroll, and Ricardo Dominguez

Electronic Disturbance Theater/b.a.n.g lab
Ricardo Dominguez / Principle Investigator
Brett Stalbaum / Principle Investigator
Amy Sara Carroll / Poet
Micha Cárdenas / Lead Researcher
Jason Najarro / Lead Researcher
Elle Mehrmand / Assistant Researcher
Diana Le / Design

Ricardo Dominguez
Associate Professor
Hellman Fellow

Visual Arts Department, UCSD
Principal Investigator, CALIT2
Co-Chair gallery at calit2
CRCA Researcher
Ethnic Studies Affiliate
Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies Affiliate

Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics,
Board Member

University of California, San Diego,
9500 Gilman Drive Drive,
La Jolla, CA 92093-0436
Phone: (619) 322-7571
e-mail: rrdominguez at ucsd.edu

Project sites:
site: http://gallery.calit2.net
site: http://pitmm.net
site: http://bang.calit2.net
site: http://www.thing.net/~rdom

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