Jerónimo Reyes-Retana | 20 - 19/23

  EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow looks through the lens of speculation at a scenario connecting the US-Mexico border complexities with the industrialization of outer space. Based on an art-oriented and multifaceted research process including fieldwork and conversations with Playa Bagdad’s residents, the scrutiny of SpaceX environmental impact assessments, and attendance to several Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) public hearings; this installation compiles the subjectivities intrinsic to the coexistence of Playa Bagdad (Tamaulipas, MX) and SpaceX (Texas, US) through the social and political implications of sound.

In this scenario, the noise produced by the launchers’ engines will not only act as mobilizing force resonating in the form of intense acoustic shock waves with the capacity of affecting materiality —including the biosphere and the body—, but as a cultural weapon nurturing an already existing ecology of fear. All of this amid a hybrid geography where the radical asymmetries of neoliberal policies fuel a regime built upon necropolitics which intersect with the rising infrastructure of space exploration.

Ironically, the confrontation between Playa Bagdad and SpaceX remains in silence, as an under-seen techno-political spectacle in which a community lacking political recognition stands in the front row to witness passively the consolidation of an economic zone that promises to delimitate a new cosmological dimension; one perpetuating the validation of progress, exclusively, through hyper-technological advancement.
  EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community opens a space for navigating the limits of the unreachable to reflect on the implications of an uncertain future where space programs with such political leverage as SpaceX perpetuate questionable power dynamics down here —on Earth—, where it is possible to hear and watch them.

The installation confronts the fragility and vulnerability embedded in the architectural logic of Playa Bagdad with a sound device that alludes to the philosophical figure of the black box. The taxonomy and materiality of this device respond to a conception of technology defined by a cryptic, monolithic, and enigmatic essence. The black box reproduces the omnipresent voice of an artificial consciousness speaking about planetary objectification, cognitive empires, and a geopolitical order in which ascending from Earth to space is rationalized as a form of absolute progress.

The sudden intervention of a Playa Bagdad community member narrating the experience of living with the sound produced by SpaceX launchers, bridges the gap between the micro and the macro, the local and the global; synthesizing in this way the polarities of progress. The field recording of the Starship SN11 test flight represents in the form of acoustic shock waves, generating a cathartic moment that amplifies a situation that, ironically, remains silent.

EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, 2021
Installation View (Big Medium, Austin, US)
Video Documentation

EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow brings together a series of multimedia exercises to be shown at Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juárez (Chihuahua, MX). In addition to being a leading cultural institution within the US-Mexico border art circuit, this exhibition space has a suggestive architecture that connects in a significant way with the project’s provocations.

The circular shape of its central room and a 30 m wide concave fiberglass dome make this place a resonance box with a monumental scale, where the subjectivities of the complex scenario that confronts the fishing community of Playa Bagdad (Tamaulipas, MX) with the acoustic shock waves produced by SpaceX at the Boca Chica launch port (Texas, US), promise to sound with much more power. -

EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, 2022
Installation View (Museo de la Ciudad, Cd. Juárez, MX)

Published Writing & Talks :

Playa Bagdad / SpaceX: transboundary noise, the colonial voids of infrastructure, and counter-archiving as a place- making practice
Reyes-Retana, Jerónimo. 2023. 'Playa Bagdad / SpaceX: transboundary noise, the colonial voids of infrastructure, and counter-archiving as a place- making practice,’Making Space, Making Place: Marking the Americas, Seventh Symposium on Latin American Art, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) New York City, US. 

Playa Bagdad / SpaceX: Sound, Necropolitics, and the Industrialization of Space   
Talk at Royal Anthropological Institute, RAI Film Festival, London, UK. 2023

Playa Bagdad / SpaceX: Sound, Necropolitics, and the Industrialization of Space
Reyes-Retana, Jerónimo. 2022. 'Playa Bagdad / SpaceX: Sound, Necropolitics, and the Industrialization of Space’, Proceedings of the xCoAx 10th Conference on Computation, Communication, Aesthetics & X. Porto: Research Institute in Art, Design and Society School of Fine Arts, University of Porto, pp. 75-84

Playa Bagdad / SpaceX: reflejos de ruido
Reyes-Retana, Jerónimo. 2022. 'Playa Bagdad / SpaceX: Reflejos de ruido’, Presente Expandido en PICS-Fluido, Centro de la Imágen, México

  The sound of a sharp device engraving the phrase we have the watches, but they have the time moves across a metal bar dividing the room. The former is a gesture that re-codes the middle-eastern proverb you have the watches, but we have the time. Local militia groups coined this saying in response to the highly advanced warfare used by the US during the Afghanistan occupation (2001).

The installation is complemented by a calligraphic intervention that is superimposed with the blurred image of an armed soldier carrying a virtual reality device. The media dialogue of this exhibition is built on a framework of (hyper) (in)visibility enabled by the articulation of different perception channels, aiming at opening up a space to navigate the threshold between what Western thought understands as technological innovation in confrontation with dissident strategies in which the alternative usage of time implies a mechanism for resistance.
We have all the watches, but you have the time, 2022
Installation View (Eda, Mexico City, MX)
Video Documentation

For people in the context of mobility, smartphones and mobile technologies represent an oasis of survival. These devices are an essential tool for communicating with the localities, obtaining information for tracing routes, registering and reporting situations of danger, accessing support communities and information forums on legal issues, and navigating through different GPS applications.

x-o.global is socially-engaged and participatory platform that speculates about the capacity of smartphones and the GPS to act as cultural production and distribution media responding to the migratory crisis in Latin America.

x-o.global recognizes the significant impact of mobile technologies within migratory journeys to propose an alternative use of smartphones and the GPS through an online platform that enables interactive spaces for auditive stimulation. The project delivers recreational experiences that help to release stress and alleviate the cultural confrontations and emotional complexities derived from the processes of migratory mobility.

x-o.global's execution methodology considers camps, shelters, refuges, and unregulated settlements as optimal locations, since they are spaces that provide people in the context of mobility with an atmosphere of temporary relief, where it is feasible to channel the mind of the audience towards reparatory imaginaries; where a sensory experience can potentially become an act of resilience.

x-o.global propose a GPS-sensitive interface using geographic coordinates to insert interactive sound maps into camps, shelters, refuges, and unregulated settlements for migrants and refugees in Latin America.

x-o.global navigates the frictions of a social and political order shaped by technological interconnectivity and humanitarian disconnection. The project is informed by the effects of mobile technologies in migratory flows that entail cultural integration processes.

x-o.global appropriates the GPS as a techno-poetic gesture reprogramming the terms of the migratory social struggles by creating a network of resilience. The project seeks to empower the action of speculating about strategies where the same platforms that support hegemonic systems of dominance and oppression, can also host sites for reflecting on how technology could shape dissident futurities.

x-o.global, 2022
Documenting Image (Geolocative intervention at the migrant camp of La Mula, Alto Hospicio, CHL)
More info at x-o.global

Published Writing & Talks:

A narration of x-o.global: first steps towards the perversion of GPS in the tropical cartographies of Latin American migration 
Reyes-Retana, Jerónimo. 2023. 'A narration of x-o.global: first steps towards the perversion of GPS in the tropical cartographies of Latin American migration.' Sociology Lens, 36(1), Canada: Alberta, 78– 82. 

La ciudad como dispositivo tecnopoético
x-o.global en Toda la Teoría del Universo (Concepción, CHL)     

Smartphones and Migration: Resilient Perspectives of the GPS
Jerónimo Reyes-Retana in conversation with Toda la Teoría del Universo (Concepción, CHL)

  In this interactive piece, Jerónimo Reyes-Retana records the luxurious interiors in a state of decay of a house in Tamaulipas, which has remained abandoned since its owner —involved in organized crime— was assassinated by a rival group inside the building. In an area of ​​the country where it is difficult to distinguish between the cartels and the government, this ghostly tour allows access to a space subject to confrontations between abstract entities in control of the territory. Like an inevitable ruin, the project takes advantage of different 3D modeling techniques, as well as the software that the real estate industry uses to survey properties in the region, to reveal the symbiotic relationship between the materiality of desire —manifested in hedonistic architectural typologies— and the ultraviolent regimes characteristic of the Tamaulipas-Texas border.
Frixxxión, 2022
Videogame trailer, screenshots (Negative Optics, Distant Gallery, Amsterdam, NL & Casa del Lago UNAM, Mexico City, MX)
More info at Distant Gallery

  A custom-made interface with the capacity to granulate sound through a fifteen-channel speaker array brakes down an Amazonian soundscape into millisecond-long fragments.

is a series of ephemeral installation proposing a phenomenological experience of sonic deconstruction from where to think about the subjectivities of a post-anthropocentric nature. A set up of multiple speaker-mounts, cables, and different devices, materializes an entropic system of connectivity that brings to the front the emergence of machine ecologies as the basis for scrutinizing from a non-human perspective the possibility of mass extinction. As an immersive installation, the viewer's movement across the room contributes to the uncanny experience of a hypothetical existence of an automated nature. When heard from afar, the sound emitting from each speaker creates an intelligible representation of the Amazonian rainforest. Nonetheless, when standing close to a single speaker, all one hears is intermittent data manifesting as noise. 

The installation is informed by the confrontation of two archetypical figures of the Western cultural imagination. On the one hand, Amazon; a multifaceted expanding force engineering a form of capitalism based on a holistic practice of extraction that interweaves labour, resources, and data. On the other, the Amazonian; a symbol of an exteriorized nature that is dramatically contracting due to a voracious world economic order. Imbued by the former association of expansion and contraction and the assumption that the Amazonian basin is the result of an ancestral process of terraformation carried on by native inhabitants of pre-Columbian civilizations, ICP-OUC opens a space for stirring up a truncated correlation between the notion of artificiality and what modern society understands as nature.
  To examine and propose a contingent production methodology, the components making up the installations are derived exclusively from Amazon and are subject to its 30-day return policy. Thus each time the work is installed, it changes its form by utilizing a different set of elements. In 2020, ICP-OUC debuted at Museo Tamayo (Mexico City) as part of the exhibition Otrxs Mundxs. In 2021, it was presented in the first edition of Sound + at Museo Anahuacalli.
Islands of conscious power in an ocean of unconscious cooperation, 2020
Installation View (Otrxs Mundxs, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, MX)
More info at Museo Tamayo

  Map of a twin mind is an installations resulting from two years of implementing an open-ended and flexible field research methodology throughout Nuevo Laredo-Laredo, Reynosa-McAllen, and Matamoros-Brownsville —the twin cities located on the Texas-Tamaulipas line in the US-Mexico frontier. The designation of twin cities implies a particular case of two urban centers founded in close geographic proximity and then growing into each other over time, losing most of their mutual geopolitical buffer zone. This particular case of bi-national urbanism propelled an economic and cultural symbiosis that was instrumental for keeping up the living standards in both the Mexican and US border towns. 

Furthermore, since 2006, Mexico has hosted a devastating war on drugs that has severely eroded the social thread. In this scenario, the US-Mexico border cities of Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, and Matamoros play a protagonist role as crucial entry points for illicit traffic traveling into the US through different channels enabled by The North American Free trade Agreement (NAFTA). The complexity of the conflict caused the sudden stop of a once-thriving tourist flow coming in from the neighboring US border towns.  

The Tamaulipas border towns' touristic corridors that used to host thousands of Texan citizens entering daily now feel desolated. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and gift shops remain shut down. This sudden economic loss had worsened an already dire situation. The severe recession in the tourism industry has had a catastrophic financial impact on a once bilateral economic relationship, exposing an uneven dynamic of transnational exchange. On the contrary, the people residing on the Tamaulipas side still cross every day, representing a significant economic income to the Texan border towns. 
  The Tamaulipas border towns' touristic corridors that used to host thousands of Texan citizens entering daily now feel desolated. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and gift shops remain shut down. This sudden economic loss had worsened an already dire situation. The severe recession in the tourism industry has had a catastrophic financial impact on a once bilateral economic relationship, exposing an uneven dynamic of transnational exchange. On the contrary, the people residing on the Tamaulipas side still cross every day, representing a significant economic income to the Texan border towns.  

Map of a twin mind is a site-responsive, mixed-media installation commissioned by the Mexico City-based gallery OMR. A double-sided mirror-wall bisects the room of a colonial house, to act as a mechanism for rendering the viewer's reflection to suggest a critical dialogue connoting the ontological irony of the twin cities' designation.

The confrontation of the deteriorated walls of the room with the pristine nature of the mirrors, points to the US-Mexico border as an apparatus empowering self-centered geopolitics that thinks of the periphery exclusively as the scaffolding for transnational trading, labor exploitation, and natural resource extraction. A set of sixteen concealed sound exciters (a device that converts variations in a physical quantity into sound) distributed across the mirrors enables them as sound outputs. The vibrations of strident sound coming out from the reflective glass mimics a metal object tapping behind the mirror-wall 24-hour audio clip reproducing a Morse code translation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Map of a twin mind, 2019
Installation View (OMR Gallery, Mexico City, MX)







Jerónimo Reyes-Retana (b. Mexico City, 1984) is an artist and
researcher with a particular interest in delving into the aesthetics
of counter-forensics, the poetics of infrastructure, and the politics
of sound. All of which he articulates with different computer-based processes, sculpture components, and time-based media. Through speculative futurities often materialized in the form of installation, Reyes-Retana’s body of work opens space to navigate the latencies originating from the interpolation of notions related to technological innovation, trans-territoriality, corporate colonialism, and resilient ways of approaching the realm of digitality. Provoked by experimenting with situated modes of exchanging knowledge, his research is informed
by the recognition of Latin American sites conditioned to the social, ecological, and economic anxieties provoked by the techno-utopian determinisms of Western culture.


Reyes-Retana’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Museo de Arte (Ciudad Juárez, MX), Mario Kreuzgerg (Basel, CH), Big Medium (Austin, US), Co-Lab Projects (Austin, US), and Salón Acme (Mexico City, MX), as well as a commissioned installation for the OMR gallery (Mexico City, MX). Reyes-Retana participated in the acclaimed show Otrxs Mundxs in Museo Tamayo (Mexico City, MX), an exhibition gathering a group of Mexico City-based artists thinking about the paradigms and failures of late capitalism. In 2021, his installation EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow was nominated for the Lumen Prize for Art and Technology in the Global South Award category. Reyes-Retana’s work has also been shown in group exhibitions at Casa del Lago UNAM (Mexico City, MX), Museo Anahuacalli (Mexico City, MX), Mutek (Mexico City, MX), Masa (Mexico City, MX), Distant Gallery (Amsterdam, ND), Paul Kazmin (NYC, US), amongst others.


Reyes-Retana has participated in artist residencies at Fabrica in Treviso (Itlay), Toda la Teoría del Universo in Concepción (Chile), Casa Wabi in Puerto Escondido (Mexico), and Ucross in Wyoming (US). His writing has been featured by ISLAA’s symposium on Latin American Art (NYC, US), xCoAx’s Conference on Computation, Communication, Aesthetics & X (Coimbra, PT), Centro de la Imagen (Mexico City, MX), Sociology Lens: Cercereal Edgelands (Alberta, CA), the Royal Anthropological Institute (London, UK), and Toda la Teoría del Universo (Concepción, CL).

Reyes-Retana is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in Emergent Technologies and Media Arts Practices at the University of Colorado (Boulder, US). He holds an MFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from The University of Texas (Austin, US). He has been awarded with the Study Abroad Fonca-Conacyt Fellowship through the National Council for Arts, Culture and Technology (Mexico).