Week 31: b.a.n.g. lab


Hi Everyone,

This Tuesday is another event in a year-long series of weekly conversations and exhibits in 2010 shedding light on examples of Plausible Artworlds.

This week we’ll be talking with Ricardo Dominguez, “principle investigator” of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), and b.a.n.g lab, a small group of artists and activists, actively engaged in developing the theory and practice of Electronic Civil Disobedience (ECD). In the framework of their U.S./Mexico Border Disturbance Art Project, the group has recently devised what they call a “Transborder Immigrant Tool” (TBT), a code-switch device that repurposes inexpensive, discarded mobile phones that have GPSantennae to function in the hands of “the tired, the poor,” as personal safety navigation systems in the Mexican-U.S. borderlands.


TBT thus seeks to have both genuine use value in a geopolitical context where thousands of lives have been needlessly lost, as well as conceptual and poetic value inasmuch as it performatively raises the question: “What constitutes sustenance?” Or suggests that “in the desert, we are all illegal aliens.” But above all, the device – like the disturbance-art project of which it is part and parcel – directly raises the question of the politics of art today. What exactly is to be gained by understanding such devices and such projects to be art and not the mere real thing? By disturbing the porous borders between artworlds and lifeworlds, considering civil disobedience decidedly within the purview of artistic practice, the group clearly wants to give art political teeth; but how does art in turn add its own specific value to the device’s usership? And what kind of artworld would make that possible?