City Decentered: The Transborder Immigrant Tool
The Transborder Immigrant Tool is designed to repurpose inexpensive used mobile phones that have GPS antennas (through the addition of proper software which the TB project is designing) to provide emergency personal navigation, helping to guide dehydrated immigrants to water safety sites established by activists and to provide poetic audio nourishment as well. The Transborder Immigrant Tool is one of many projects that currently use some aspect of the walkingtools.net reference APIs. Its main thrust is as an activist and public culture project that addresses the public safety issues created by the broken immigration policies of the United States; a topic of considerable interest to many communities within the sanctuary city of San Francisco.
At City Centered, the artists of the Transborder Immigrant Tool project will install wall-mounted mobile phones. The phones wil run a continuous screen loop, alternating randomly between a simulation of the navigation compass UI, and pictures of the harsh desert landscape in which it is designed to be used. Ultimately, the installation suggests the functional and aesthetical aspect of this revolutionary tool.
The TBtool project, situated in the B.A.N.G. Lab at CALIT2 at the University of California, San Diego, provides software (both for the mobile phone and NGOs who manage distribution of the tool) that enables these cast-away, disposable mobiles to function as personal safety navigation systems for immigrants. As such, the project is a social, activist and interventionist project as much as (if not more than) it is a software project.
More significant than the controversial aspects of this project is the manner in which the project repurposes and revitalizes commonplace understandings of hospitality, sustenance, freedom, and justice.
Micha Cárdenas will speak to the question of TBT’s transitivity, addressing the specificities of the project as a queer technology. Amy Sara Carroll will reflect on TBT’s allegiances to inter-American transcendental-isms and the paraliterary. Ricardo Dominguez will stage “7 Uneasy Pieces,” a nano-play beholden to the “infinitely demanding” empty brackets at the heart of TBT’s trans-aesthetics. Elle Mehrmand will remix TBT’s transnationally-minded counter-auditory playlist. Brett Stalbaum will situate TBT as both locative and dislocative media, positioning the project’s discrete function as software against a transformation of the right wing’s most feared and most desired.
Micha Cárdenas / Azdel Slade is an artist/theorist whose work spans from erotic mixed reality performance in motion capture studios to dislocative border disturbance art in remote desert areas, always striving to find limits and challenge them. Her transreal work mixes physical and networked spaces in order to explore emerging forms of queer relationality, biopolitics and DIY horizontal knowledge production. She is a Lecturer in the Visual Arts department at University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She is an Artist/Researcher in the Experimental Game Lab at CRCA and the b.a.n.g. lab at Calit2. Micha holds an MFA from UCSD, an MA in Media and Communications with distinction from the European Graduate School and a BS in Computer Science from FIU. She has exhibited and performed in Los Angeles, Tijuana, New York, San Francisco, Montreal, Egypt, Ecuador, Spain, Ireland and many other places. Micha’s work has been written about in publications including the LA Times, CNN, BBC World, Associated Press and Rolling Stone Italy.
Amy Sara Carroll is Assistant Professor of American Culture / Latino / a Studies and English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She received a Ph.D. in Literature from Duke University (2004), and an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Cornell University (1995). Her research, teaching, and writing interests include Latino/a American contemporary cultural production (performance, art, video, and literature), feminist, queer, and postcolonial theory, visual culture, cultural studies, inter-American studies, border studies, and critical creative writing. Her poetry has appeared in various journals and anthologies such as Talisman, Carolina Quarterly, The Iowa Review, Mandorla, Chain, Bombay Gin, Seneca Review, Borderlands, Faultline, This Bridge We Call Home, and Not For Mothers Only: Contemporary Poets on Child-Getting and Child-Rearing. She has exhibited poem-prints at the Audre Lorde Project (Brooklyn, New York), Duke University Museum of Art, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center (Auburn, New York), and State-of-the-Art Gallery (Ithaca, New York).
Ricardo Dominguez is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), a group who developed Virtual-Sit-In technologies in 1998 in solidarity with the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico. He is co-Director of Thing (thing.net) an ISP for artists and activists. His recent Electronic Disturbance Theater project with Brett Stabaum, Micha Cardenas and Amy Sara Carroll the *Transborder Immigrant Tool* (a GPS cellphone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/U.S border was the winner of “Transnational Communities Award”, this award was funded by *Cultural Contact*, Endowment for Culture Mexico – U.S. and handed out by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico), also funded by CALIT2 and two Transborder Awards from the UCSD Center for the Humanities. Ricardo is an Assistant Professor at UCSD in the Visual Arts Department, a Hellman Fellow, and Principal/Principle Investigator at CALIT2 (http://bang.calit2.net). He also co-founder of *particle group* with artists Diane Ludin, Nina Waisman, Amy Sara Carroll a gesture about nanotechnology entitled *Particles of Interest: Tales of the Matter Market* (http://pitmm.net) that was presented in Berlin (2007), the San Diego Museum of Art (2008), Oi Futuro, and FILE festivals in Brazil (2008).
Elle Mehrmand [elleelleelle.org] is a performance/new media artist and musician who uses the body, electronics, video, sound and installation within her work. She is the singer and trombone player of Assembly of Mazes, a music collective who create dark, electronic, middle eastern, rhythmic jazz rock. Elle is currently an MFA candidate at UCSD, and received her BFA in art photography with a minor in music at CSULB. Elle has received grants from UCIRA, the Russell Foundation and Fine Arts Affiliates. She is a researcher at CRCA and the b.a.n.g. lab at UCSD. Her performances have been shown in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Tijuana, Montreal, Dublin, San Diego and Bogotá, Colombia. Her work has been discussed in Art21, the LA Times, Furtherfield.org, Reno News and Review and the OC Weekly.
Brett Stalbaum is a C5 research theorist specializing in information theory, database, and software development. A serial collaborator, he was a co-founder of the Electronic Disturbance Theater in 1998, for which he co-developed software called FloodNet (http://www.thing.net/~rdom/ecd/ecd.html), which has been used on behalf of the Zapatista movement against the websites of the Presidents of Mexico and the United States, as well as the Pentagon. As Forbes Magazine put it “Perhaps the first electronic attack against a target on American soil was the result of an art project.” For EDT, this was all learned behavior taught by the example of the Zapatistas. Also known for his work with C5 corp and paintersflat.net, Stalbaum holds an MFA in fine art from CADRE at San Jose State University, a BA in Film Studies from San Francisco State University, and an AA in Music from Napa Valley College. He is a full-time lecturer with security employment in Visual Arts at UCSD (Academic Senate faculty) and coordinator for the Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts Major (ICAM). Current research can be found at www.walkingtools.net, an umbrella site for generative walking algorithms, the development of mobile software and GPS APIs (walkingtools reference APIs), applications for narrative walking art (HiperGeo), and related activist software (Transborder Immigrant Tool). Walkingtools.net work has been presented world wide, most recently at SCANZ (New Zealand), FILE (Brazil), and the Edith Russ Haus (Germany). Staubam lives in an unincorporated area of Eastern San Diego County, USA.
Please visit City Decentered: The Transborder Immigrant Tool