Ten Years of Design and Mexican Politics

As a Mexican I have been strained to live in different parts of the world. One thing that I have noticed, is that there is there is a growing nationalistic appreciation for your country of origin every time you have to live abroad. Arguably, this phenomena takes place in the vast majority of immigrants of every single country, including Mexico. There is an intrinsic sense of belonging that we crave as humans, as members of the world.

Many of students at universities create a wide range of societies to convey to other people their particular convictions and/or interests. These can range from political, social, sports, or even cultural. In this case I will be focusing on the Mexican Society at the University of Southampton (MexSoc). This society was originally created (to my best understanding), to support Mexican and other spanish speaking students at the University, as well as promoting Mexican culture.

There has been a huge change in this society from the time I met them from the first time in 2006, until the last time I saw them in 2016. In addition, the Mexican society demographics changed throughout time. Nevertheless, as mentioned before, there is always a sense of belonging as a society, as Mexicans, as Latin-Americans and as students.

Among many of the different events that the MexSoc, many of them cultural, such as the Day of The Dead Altar, MexSoc Seminars, MexSoc Cinema and Political Discussions. In addition, there are also social events, such as the parties to celebrate some of the main Mexican holidays. Originally, I was not part of the University since I was teaching in another university. Therefore, the way I was able to collaborate with the MexSoc was through producing the designs for their events.

In a way, these designs describe the foot prints of what has been going on in Mexico.

mexsocposters

These posters will be described in chronological order.

posterlowresMay, 2014. Party Cinco de Mayo

During this time, the government had noticed that social network technologies could empower social discourse and demonstrations. For this reason, the government began to censor how the internet was going to be used in Mexico. Among many of the dramatic changes proposed, were the power to discontinue internet access and other telecommunication services whenever a ‘competent authority’ required so. This article 197 and 145 called for a full censorship of the Web, and there were even scenarios where demonstration where pages such as the 1DMX were taken down.

This poster depicted such censorship on the Web, a Web where Mexicans were not allowed to talk, hear or see anything that was nor previously approved by the government.

muertosNovember, 2014. Dia de Muertos

The assassination kidnap of the 43 students in the state of Iguala, Mexico had become a trending topic. Massacres in Mexico carried out by the government have been a recurrent strategy, that showcases the impunity and ineptitude of the government and public servants. Arguably, even Mexican academics tend to forget their (our) own history. There has been numerous mass killings in hands of the government such as the one in Tlatelolco, Atenco, San Fernando and Acteal. Ironically, people seem to have forgotten that the current president was the governor of Estado de Mexico (Atenco), where one of the most recent human rights violations took place. The data used for this poster represents only official government interventions.

This poster is a simple data visualisation of the total number of people killed in individual events. Each dead person is depicted with a skull and they are arranged together so it looks like a skull. The colours, and visuals of the poster emulates the papel picado technique used to ornate the altars in Mexico.

infras3May, 2013. Cinco de Mayo

When the current president of Mexico came in to power in December 2012, he already had a trajectory of abuse of power, corruption and negligence. It was a president, which arguably, risen into power thanks to the poorest 10% of the population, which at the same time is the core vote of his political party, PRI.

The emblematic president had already been called out as ignorant due to his interview at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, where he was not able to mention three books that he had read, and confusing the authors of some of the books that he ‘allegedly’ read. Those news became viral, but not at much as the video of him giving a presentation in english at the World Future’s Society in 2008. No wonder he used an interpreter at the White House when he met with Obama as the ‘elected president of Mexico’.

revoNovember, 2013. Revolution Party

During this time the Mexican congress approved the privatisation of Mexican oil. This billion worth business was applauded outside Mexico, where many of them indicated that this was a sign of hope. Beyond, the media influence of such topics, it was expected that transnational companies would begin to pay attention to such opening in the market. Companies such as Exxon, Chevron and Petrobras showed their interest in this neoliberal process.

This year’s poster depicts, yet again, that privatisation process that Mexicans seem to forget over and over again. Now in 2017, we can already see who are the main beneficiaries of such transactions. The poster shows an image of Villa, Zapata and Marcos to highlight that the revolution process is still yet ongoing and very present. In addition, there are two ornaments: an Aztec on the left and a Mayan on the right. This aimed to include the diverse ranges of cultures, where although there are over 20 different cultures, it acknowledges that Mexico is not just conformed by Aztec culture. For this reason, it was decided not to use the traditional eagle and include these indigenous icons. To remind the audience about the privatisation process, the background is made of a pattern of Pemex, and other transnational oil companies, such as Exxon and accompanied with the emblem of the European Union, which hosts many of the companies that thrive on developing economies.

posteNovember, 2011. Revolution Party

The privatisation of Mexico’s natural resources seem to be a topic that tends to come up over and over. In fact, this is a topic that has been under discussion since the 1990s (Salinas-Zedillo terms). The long battle to privatise PEMEX seemed to be fought by a semi-united left. In hindsight, this also showcases how quickly the left disappeared in the Mexican politics.

During this time PEMEX accounted for 10% of the export revenues of the country with a $80.6 billion in revenue. The current political party in power, PRI, needed to have the connection to liberalise PEMEX and they finally got it in this current term with Enrique Peña Nieto. It has been argued that this is a common strategy plan to privatise state companies; break them and then sell them, or in this case call for investors such as Halliburton.

This poster aimed to rise the awareness that the oil privatisation was an ongoing deal. The illustrations depict the fight for the Mexican oil. The background shows a carved print from WWII made by the Taller de Grafica Popular,  that calls for the removal of fascism and applauds the victory of US and GB over the Nazis. In addition, the background also displays a small high contrast image of Zapata, to remind us that we are still being overpowered by fascists ideologies through transnational companies.

cartelmexconmonoMay, 2010. Cinco de Mayo

For some reason, the MexSoc had already established the 5th of May as one of the established parties at the university. Mexicans do not really celebrate this date as much as Chicanos (Mexican Americans). The 5th of May celebrates the Battle of Puebla. When ex-president Benito Juarez came to power (1806-1872), he was left with a Mexico in financial ruin and owed money to Europe. Britain, Spain and France sent naval forces to Mexico, where negotiations were only agreed with Spain and Britain. France carried out the attack with 6,000 troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez. Juarez gathered only 2,000 troops, where many of them came from indigenous background. General Ignacio Zaragoza, a man born in Texas, came up with a victory in Puebla, where France reported over 500+ casualties. The Mexican army reported less than 100 deaths. This date was later picked up and made popular by Chicano activists in the 1960s in the United States. They used the analogy of the victory of the indigenous people over Europeans. Now, the Cinco de Mayo celebrations are very important for many Mexican-Americans and Latin-Americans-Americans (Latino Community) in the United States.

This poster aimed to reiterate that Mexicans do not celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. The poster depicts a dancing Mexican army soldier dancing and smiling. He is currently wearing a wrestler’s mask in a kitsch combination of modern and past. The design and colours of the poster merge the French and Mexican flag colours. The overall design and ornaments were based on Art Deco style to depict France’s heritage in Mexico. It is an attempt to bring Cinco de Mayo back to its roots.

But not all of it is bad news.

Throughout these years, Mexico has seen a large range of changes in their economic policies, political corruption, and thanks to the World Wide Web, we are able to gather more information and evidence from politicians. Overall, what I can personally recognise is the disappearance of the Mexican Left and the immense connections that new PRI generations of politicians bring under their arm. Nevertheless, it is not all gloom, there is a growing number of Mexican scientists (not me), who are becoming world leaders in their fields. Many of them in Mexico, and many of them in other parts of the world. But if one thing is clear, is that when Mexicans get together, good things happen.

 

 

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Arduino RFID – 7 Segment LED Display

 

Getting started

RFID

Arduino UNO, RFID and 7 segment display

I have built an RFID reader that displays some info on a 7 segment LED display. With the Arduino this is quite simple and a lot of fun. RFIDs are electronic pieces that use radio frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data. RFIDs can also be called RFID Tags, most of them will create have an ID. This can be used to identify them individually and perform specific tasks for each one of them. In this case the different tags will produce a different result on the display. Nevertheless, you can make an RFID engage with a computer or electronic in any way that you want.

You will need

  • RC522 RFID reader
  • 7 Segment LED Display
  • 7 X 240Ω resistors
  • Jump wires
  • Breadboard
  • Arduino Uno

Assemble

To assemble everything together, I have provided an image to connect the wires and devices. You can also download the Fritzing file. Alternatively, here is an image of how everything has been connected.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Download the Fritz file here.

Download Fritz

What it does

The LED display can be able to display the information that is typed in the console. The RFID will just read what are the values of the ID and store the data in rfid.serNum[4] which in this case, I am using 102 and 46 ;. To find out the IDs’ of your tags, unhighlight the commented lines (line:372) to print the rfid.serNum[4]; on the console. You can add rfid.serNum[4],DEC; to find its decimal value or rfid.serNum[4],HEX to convert that on to hexadecimal and then use it to activate the if/else statements.

Arduino

Once you have everything connected, run the Arduino code.

Thanks!

Hope you find this helpful!

Designing some Internet of Things – The Town Light

I have been experimenting lately with some Internet of Things (IoT) object. Some time ago, I attended a workshop at the MadLab at Manchester. Adrian McEwen presented his Bubblino, an Arduino bot that makes bubbles triggered by a Twitter message. He has written a book about designing IoT things. Based on all these examples I started experimenting myself. Working with some IoT myself, I started planning how user interfaces (UI) might affect how do we use the data that is streamed on the Web.

The Night Light Town

This is an experiment that reads the amount of light. The light data is sent to a server, which then is returned. Once the data is sent back, the Arduino reads the value and depending on the intensity, it turns on or off a LED.

To set up this you need:

  • Arduino
  • Arduino Ethernet/WiFi Shield
  • Photocell
  • 1k Ohm Resistor
  • 220 Ohm Resistor
  • A Breadboard

Here is the layout. You can use Fritzing to check more in detail how to set it up.

light_bb

Fritz File

Alternatively you can download the Fritzing File:

Using Xively to Monitor Data

 Xively is a service that allows you to monitor data and then make other services or object react. In this case I use it to dump the light data to it and then get it to send it back to me. I followed the basic tutorial from the Xively website. Nevertheless, they provided the code for the WiFi Arduino Shield, so I had to make some basic modifications. This final script was based on the ones provided by Xively and Paul Bellamy.

Here is MY final code. (Make sure you include the libraries)

The Deity Collector

The Deity Collector

A Downloadable Tangible User Interface for Constructivist Museums

Now that I have started my PhD in Web Science, I wanted to talk about my MSc research project. I managed to produce a comparative study in between three tangible user interfaces (TUI). I was under the supervision of Dr. Enrico Costanza and Dr. Leif Isaksen. I learned a lot about Constructivism for museums and for educational theory. On the other hand I realised how much I still have to learn, or how little I actually know about Physical Computing and Human Computer Interaction (HCI). This was a very nice eye opener and motivating to carry on with my research pathway.

This post is more about where this is taking me, instead of the actual research method. If you would like to know more, I recommend you to go to my research blog .

My research poster

This is my poster from my MSc research project.

poster

MSc Javier Pereda

I would like to thank PixEden for the characters kit from my poster. They produced a manga characters kit (Vector Based) completely free. I strongly recommend checking their work and their freebies! Here is the link for the characters: http://www.pixeden.com/vector-characters/vector-manga-avatar-faces

 

Some nice events

I have been presenting the project in some conferences and academic events. I have been getting very good feedback.

This video is an interview from the DigiFest, where I presented my poster for the first time.

 

I also presented in the Digital Transformations Moot in London. This is a video where Nicole Beale and Dr. Gareth Beale were interviewed and presented some of the work that we are doing in the areas of Web Science and Digital Humanities at the University of Southampton.

 

 

Stop Fenton 2012 – The slacktivist campaign.

I have generated a set of graphics that emulate the Stop Kony 2012 campaign. This is based on an idea that I saw on a television show in which the popular video of Fenton the Dog is blended with this type of campaign. I explain my motivation behind this project and some new concepts of the new digital world  that we are living in.

Beyond the criticism of the Stop Kony campaign I am focusing on the ‘slacktivist’ element to make us realise how susceptible we are and how easy is to spread an idea through the Web.

Stop Kony 2012

Youtube Stats Kony

Kony Youtube Stats

The last 6th of March of 2012, over 20 million views in less than 5 days. This has been the fastest spreading viral video of all times. The video covers in a simplistic way the problem in Uganda where children are being abducted by military guerrillas lead by Joseph Kony. Regardless of how naïve or accurate is the producer Jason Russell’s vision of how to solve the problem, it is the most successful case in which awareness is created toward a socio-political problem in Africa or even the world.

Slacktivism

People are capable of engaging into these types of campaigns in which an effect of inclusion occurs with the audience. We feel that we are part of the campaign because we used 30 minutes of our life to watch the Make Kony Famous video, and even more if we share the video or use our social network profile(s) to post our virtual support towards the campaign. We are becoming ‘slacktivists’ a blend of activists with slacking attitudes in which we care but not enough to do something significant.

So, is this damaging real activism or is the virtual awareness actually promoting action toward solving these issues? As slacktivists we are very unlikely to search for the most appropriate solutions or information toward the topics. Most revolutions have started with the educated middle class that have the culture, knowledge and some means to start the change of ideology. This promotes a gap in between activists and slacktivists. The Kony case has had many replies that indicate that the problem is not within Uganda but in the Western capitalist governments that have made Kony’s case possible. Nevertheless this is not the objective of this post.

Invisible Children is the organisation behind the Kony campaign. They have generated a mediated campaign with many celebrities and solvency behind that allows that strategic “aggressive push” of advertising and media dissemination. They as many NGOs are businesses that are focused on making a profit. Invisible Children has spent less than 4% of their money in Africa. This just generates a different perspective for me and for many other people.

10 o’clock Live

Episode 05 – Season 02 of the Channel 4 show 10 o’clock Live, Charlie Brooker came up with a quick presentation about the Kony campaign. In this dialogue he (or his team) brought a campaign that instead of stopping Kony, we will campaign to stop Fenton; a dog from a viral video from Youtube. This motivated me to produce the graphics for the Stop Fenton 2012 awareness campaign.

[youtube http://youtu.be/Igw8fA962X8]

For this I created a series of posters, banners and social network imagery to be used. All these under (CC) Creative Commons License. So, if you use them please reference me for credit.

Stop Fenton 2012

I have utilised the same typography used on the original campaign. the most important elements are the deer as a logo an the Fenton 2012 typographic elements. It contains the same effects of red background with faded print. This generates the rough effect instead of being a very ‘polished’ design. It still needed to keep the same characteristics as the original concept.

Fenton Trinkermedia

Stop Fenton 2012 by Trinker

The full images can be found in my Flickr Gallery

Profile PictureFacebook TimelineAllA4 - PosterFentonBannerOption 2
Option 1

Stop Fenton 2012, a set on Flickr.

Extra links if you are interested:

[youtube http://youtu.be/3GRSbr0EYYU]

Reply from Uganda’s Prime Minister

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtGrAFx7-ok]

Visualization of Estudios Epigramaticos

Preludios Epigramaticos

The “Preludios Epigramaticos” were written in 1981 by the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer (1939- ), in what he called the “New Romanticism” phase. Inspired on poems by Miguel Hernandez, these small works employ minimalistic gestures, unusual time signatures, greek modes and recurrent intervals like 2nds, 4ths and 7ths in a rather somber atmosphere (except for a more cheery Preludio #4, which is reminiscent of popular Cuban music). They also appear to renounce to an established key or tonality, maintaining a center with independent melodic lines related to themselves through a musical idea.  Each one of them bears a fragment of a poem as subtitle.
The “Preludio Epigramatico # 1” employs all throughout the piece a rhythmic pedal (known as “Yambo”), made up by an interval of a minor 3rd (Si-Re, or B-D). It’s divided in 3 sections, A-B-A1 , and utilizes different greek modes/scales. Some interesting note groupings can be heard in the ascendant scale runs (5, 10 and the longest, 13 notes per beat). The score doesn’t have any time signature, but instead indicates a steady pulse of 1 crotchet = 60, reminiscent of a heart beat.

 

TrinkerMedia AR

TrinkerMedia Augmented Reality applications.

Through the development of the interfaces, trying to present anthropological behaviours and the emotions embedded to a wrestling mask design, I encountered that the technology was capable of transporting these sensations.  We usually see the wrestlers from outside their mask, but we have never seen how do they see us from behind the mask or how will it feel to be behind that mask.

Through augmented reality the potential of virtual elements can be expanded an fully teleported to the audiences location, it can embed intrinsic design elements into any object and allow that object to be fully visualised.

The primary objective was to generate a better understanding of the characteristics and behaviours of the wrestlers in the arena and their embedded qualities attached to their personas. Through these following examples, several outputs have been discovered along with several diverse technologies.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is a process in which a blending of several dimensions meet.  The digital and the physical objects meet together to generate a new augmented dimension.  Usually the any technology can be used to position an object on a plane and make it interact in several ways.

Total Immersion

Total Immersion is a company with presence in France, Germany, United Kingdom, Hong-Kong, Japan and in the USA.  They have developed several series of applications that allows the user to develop the most outstanding augmented reality objects.

The main issue with augmented reality is that most of the applications require a marquer for the augmented content to be displayed, Total Immersion provides robust 2D and 3D tracking, which means there is no need for a marker.  Avoiding to use a marker, can increase your creativity possibilities.  Check them out, since I believe they are the best in the field.

Alternate Options

As part of my personal research, I could not afford going to Paris and buy the applications from Total Immersion, so I decided to start working with what the community had to offer.  This forced me to work with the technologies that I currently had access to.  So I developed the applications in Flash based technology.  With the use of Papervision 3D, I managed to mount the content and I started using AIR for distribution.  Mainly the blend of ActionScript, Papervision and Spark can allow you to create these type of applications.

Examples

Get in the Ring

This augmented reality interface  will be able to position wrestlers in a wrestling ring (scale) and view, rotate and interact with them.

This video presents the process I went through to position the object along with the markers.


The second step was to be able to embed colour to the shapes. The use of Collada objects allows to place them with texturing on the Papervision 3D plane.  This experiments I attempted to see what happens if I move the object from the ground.  In this case the character in colour is on at the same height of where the ropes are going to be.  The other one is at ∆0.

AR Mask

The second experiment for augmented reality is to position a mask that can be able to be modified from the physical mask.  This has to start with a marker.

The process of using natural interfaces into the Augmented Reality interface are amazing, at this stage I am in the process of positioning the elements correctly at the time they become animated on the plane.

These experiments are still under development.  I am currently working on my audio virtual museum, which has made this project to be left out a little bit.  But more updates are coming out soon!

Audio Visualization

Audio visualisation.

Flash and ActionScript 3.0

Lately I have been learning how to visualise data using ActionScript.  One of the most amazing things you can do is visualise audio.

You can be able to take any input to flash and let it analyse it, then you can decide what to do with that data.

Example 01 – Draw a line.

This example is using the microphone, so make sure you have one connected and make sure you allow Flash to connect to your microphone.

Example 02 – Circles

This example is just pulling a normal mp3 document form the web.  (www.binaerpilot.no)   Flash is analysing the amplitude of the audio with the is transformed to a numerical value with will act as a radius for the circles.  Each circle is directly linked to a range of MHz, which then reacts to the amplitude as a radius.

Example 02a – Circles on a mask

This is exactly the same application of the previous exercise, but in this case I just placed a video feed as a background, just to have something more dynamic.  The circles now have a mask property, which makes the video visible only when the amplitude reacts to increase the radius of the mask circel

Here are other examples.

CubeeCraft©//TrinkerMedia©

Cubeecraft Wrestlers.

I have been developing this project of how the wrestling masks are developed; mainly I have been focusing on Mexican wrestling masks.

At the moment one of my many outputs are these CubeeCraft pieces.

Atlantis.

This has been one of my favorite wrestlers and one of the most famous and sucsessful wrestlers in Mexico.  I love mainly the design on his mask, very simplistic and balanced.

After being a career tecnico, Atlantis was changed to a rudo in 2005. It did not appear to be his idea or even the promotion’s idea, but the fans forcing a change. CMLL had been building up Atlantis, including weekly Seccion Azul features trumpeting his work with kids or focusing an award being given to Atlantis, to push him as the ultimate good guy. The build was the setup for a Dr.Wagner Jr./Atlantis mask match, the culmination of a long rivalry.
-LuchaWiki

cubecraft mistico by Trinker

Mistico

Mistico.

I picked Mistico because he is a very popular wrestler at the moment.  Personally I don’t like him as much as other wrestlers, but he has a very good high flying movements. Another element that motivated me to pick him to do a CubeeCraft was the acutal style of the mask and the trousers.  He uses a gold andwhite colour combination.

Part of a wrestling family, but portrayed as an orphan who learned the sport from mentor Fray Tormenta, Mistico debuted in CMLL in 2004. Mistico rose to the top of the promotion at a record pace, and was arguably the top star in the promotion a year later.
-LuchaWiki

tinieblasTinieblas.

This is one of the most mystical wrestlers in Mexico.  Tinieblas is an extra terrestrial who is supposed to be blind, that is why his mask has a black cover on the front; he doesn’t have any eyes.  He was also known as the Wise Giant.

From the 60s to the early 90s, there was a very popular magazine in Mexico called “Lucha Libre”, run by Valente Pérez (though it was renamed “Lucha Libre Mundial” when Benjamín Mora Jr. took over, and not coincidentially, the magazine didn’t last a lot with Mora in charge). LL also had a bodybuilding sister magazine called “Muscle Power”, whose editor also was Valente Pérez. Pérez, who was well liked and respected in the business and had a very good relationship with the Lutteroth family, had a special talent to come up with names and personalities for new luchadores, the most successful one being Mil Máscaras.
-LuchaWiki

sibeliusSibelius.

He is a wrestler from Mexico City.  The concept of this CubeeCraft is based on the original design which is mainly covered with yellows and oranges.  The tights have this S with a tribal style.  It seem to be the same S from the Brazilian band Sepultura.  In real life Sibelius is a musician, that is why he picked the name of the famous German composer.