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Juan Jose Maria

One of Lime and one of Sand: Between Fagocitation and Anthropophagy

Digital Art * Electronic Art * Generative Art * Interactive Art * Interactive Installation * Videomapping * Data Visualization
Variable measures

Software: Arduino and Processing.
Hardware: PCs, Arduino, webcams, projectors, servo motors.

Authors: Juan Jose Maria Tirigall, Daniel Alvarez Olmedo, Diego Diez, Jan Lubeck, Guido Villar.

Project carried out within the framework of the Interactive V 2009 program.
Workshop of Reflection, Formulation and Production of Technological Works Delivered by: Rodrigo Alonso and Mariano Sardon.
Espacio Fundacion Telefonica


The work is an interactive installation that proposes different symbolic readings about the historical process of immigration in Argentina in the 20th century. It is developed as a compositional process based on the organization of modules. Each module is made up of two levels, the lower one where the electromechanical systems driven by servomotors are located and an upper level where the substrate is placed at rest (earth, sand and lime). The movement of the mechanical system connected to the servomotors of the lower phase breaks the rest of the layers of the upper phase, gradually mixing the elements, in this way the substrate interacts with the database hosted on the Internet. This information, data from the I.N.D.E.C. of the native and non-native population of the years 1869, 1895, 1914, 1947, 1960, 1970, 1980 and 1991, controls the servo motors through software.

The behaviors of both phases are videoed by two webcams, one of the cameras captures the mechanical sector (modernity), and the other, located at the top, captures the mixture of the substrate (Latin America). Both screenshots are shown in a panoramic projection on the wall. In turn, aerial and satellite photographic images of the Retiro area are projected on each module, corresponding to each historical period, together with the projection of animated structures from the information display.

In another projection on the wall, photographic images of the current area of Villa 31 are shown, through a generative system that builds the houses dynamically. There is also the possibility of manipulating the modules to generate new spatial arrangements. Finally, a camera captures the position of the users giving the possibility of their interaction with the computer system. The user, when walking on the modules, intervenes in the composition of the distribution of the structures projected on each one of them.

Theoretical framework

We take the concept of ANTROPOFAGIA, from Oswald de Andrade, and his manifesto, as a tactical and regulated element in search of an aesthetic, political and social order, with an emancipatory sense.

We understand PHAGOCITATION as the STRATEGIES of cultural, social and political domains by the person who holds power, of the dominant culture. On the other hand, we understand by ANTHROPOPHAGY the TACTICS of RESISTANCE, of appropriation, of the dominated culture. We use the distinction between strategies and tactics used by Michel de Certeau: I call strategy the calculation (or manipulation) of the relations of forces that becomes possible from the moment in which a subject of will and power (a company, an army, a city, a scientific institution) is isolatable, where all strategic rationalization deals first with distinguishing in an environment what is proper to it, that is, the place of power and will. […] I call tactics the calculated action determined by the absence of a proper place. […] the tactic has no more place than the other. In addition, he must act in the field imposed and organized by the law of a strange force.

The Retiro neighborhood and La Villa 31 as symbols

This American macro conception of struggle can be seen as a fractal, in different Latin American cities and in turn in different regions of those cities. The tension, between phagocytation and anthropophagy, between PRIVATE PROPERTY of those self-proclaimed natives and the TAKEN PROPERTY of the now foreigners is clearly seen, for example, in the Retiro neighborhood, in the vicinity of Villa 31.
Retiro symbolizes for us the processes of phagocytosis and anthropophagy linked to foreigners in many ways. Its history is associated with Argentine immigration, in this neighborhood was the Hotel de los Inmigrantes (today the Immigrant Museum), where the immigrants who first set foot on American soil stayed. Retiro is an area closely linked to the transit of subjects from different regions, in it are the railway stations, which daily bring temporary immigrants from the Buenos Aires area to work in the Federal Capital. There is also the bus station that connects the federal capital with the rest of the country and with neighboring countries, through which other immigrants continue to arrive, who are not those from the other side of the Atlantic.