Salvador Jiménez-Flores


I am a nomadic artist who journeys through the Americas, creating rasquache art and high art, speaking Español, English and Spanglish. Occasionally, I feel I have a static sense of identity and sometimes I have an inventory of multiple identities. I fit in here and there but No soy ni de aquí ni de allá. I am one, in two worlds.

The move from a rural town in México to a major metropolis in the United States had a tremendous impact on my life. At first, art was merely a way of coping with the transition but later, due to my limited English, art became my tool for self-expression. In my work I document this journey of adapting to living in the United States, all while looking back at what I left behind in México.

The challenge of being bicultural and bilingual is that I live concurrently in two different worlds. I have learned to adapt to live in these two worlds, but adapting involves expanding and losing part of who I am, so I often find myself in the middle of these two territories. Everywhere I live, I am a foreigner.

The content of mywork is socio-political and is driven by my life experiences. In my work I explore the themes of colonization, migration (voluntary or involuntary), “the other,” stereotypes and cultural appropriation. I take an interdisciplinary approach with my work by choosing the media that will best fit the idea I am trying to convey. As an artist I feel I have the responsibility to address the issues that affect my community, create awareness and propose actions through my art.

Thank you all for a great class!

Hey guys,

Unfortunately, I missed class today because I was at the reception/fundraiser for the Urbano Project, representing our team with Emily. However, I took a look at the Prezi that Willow prepared and thought that all the teams did a great job (I wish I was there to listen to all of you present). Long story short: I want to thank Sasha, Aditi, Becky, Rodrigo, Willow, all the community partners, and all of the students taking the class! It was a great experience where I learned a lot about co-design.



Here are some pictures from tonight’s event at the State Street:

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Urbano PARTI!


Abstract: The goal of the Participatory ARtistic Traveling Installation (PARTI) is to raise public awareness about Urbano and engage diverse communities in imagining their Emancipated City of Boston. Currently, Urbano has consistent reach with their students and the families of their students, but not much more beyond that network. With PARTI, we created an interactive opportunity for Urbano to expand its reach in Boston and beyond; collect and share ideas of what an Emancipated City looks like from different points of view–this includes people from different neighborhoods, age and ethnic groups, and more; and allow Boston residents to speak on issues of social justice and inequality such as residential segregation, immigration, and police enforcement.  We want PARTI to help amplify the voices of Boston residents, as they are the best people to ask what works well and what needs improvement in their own neighborhoods. The physical installation of PARTI is a reusable and mobile tool for future Urbano projects and themes.

Final Case Study:

Final Presentation:

PARTI: A tangle of Vines

Our original design featured a single 22″ Android-based touch screen with a front facing camera. Running only a browser, a web app would control the playing of video and capturing of images. Progress had, however, stalled as we worked through the requirements for moving the images off the device and displaying them.

At that moment in the project, two things happened. First, we received feedback that having people draw something and take its picture wasn’t an interesting or rich interaction. Second, the idea was introduced  that we should use Twitter’s Vine to capture short 6-second videos and that we should move to two tablets running Vine. This was seemed clearly richer and aligned with Urbano’s interest in stop motion animation. It solved our “move the images off the device” problem because that’s what the Vine App does. We validated that Urbano’s students were excited about Vine, decided that “two tablets running Vine”, was simpler than a continued software development effort that could be supported by only one team member, and moved ahead.

Project managers talk of scope, time, and resources, describing them as a triangle, where one cannot be changed without affecting the others. The CoDesign Studio course operates with an unchangeable deadline, thus, time is fixed. Resources, beyond the $1000 budget, are largely team members time. MIT students available time is highly constrained. Time from our project partner is equally, but differently, constrained. In an iterative design process, changes in each design should have less and less impact on scope. While that might be true at the macro level, it didn’t prove to be true on the micro level.

“Two tablets running Vine” has two fundamental assumptions behind it:

  1. Tablets are commodities and, at some rough level, are largely feature equivalent.
  2. Vine, as a social network service, is ubiquitous because that’s what social networks do to achieve maximal network effects.

In the case of Vine, both these assumptions turn out to be false. The only tablets on which Vine is available are Kindle Fires. It seems reasonable to infer that Amazon, seeking to differentiate its offerings, exclusively licensed Vine and that Twitter, in its IPO stage, valued revenue the revenue of a licensing deal over a larger tablet user base.

Our Kindle choice was further constrained by our budget. The only Kindle we could afford . Because our tablet choice was constrained, we didn’t look at features or configurations, thus missed that the last generation Kindle Fires only had a forward facing camera.

We had originally planned a telescoping arm for the recording tablet but, when the choice of arm was rejected for quality reasons, we went with flat, titlable mounting but that proved problematic for actually shooting Vines. Pointing downward made it easier to manipulate props for stop motion animation, but impossible to see what was being shot and awkward to control the start/stop function of Vine. We considered, then rejected the use of a mirror to allow viewing the display side of the Kindle. We settled on creating a small “stage” in front of the PARTI, mounting the recording tablet at the botton of the suitcase, creating felt props for people to use.

While videos are richer than still pictures, we still wanted to make PARTI more versatile than just Vine. With various aggregation technologies, there should be no reason tweets, Instagrams, or other media with the correct hash tag couldn’t be shown by the display tablet. Again, we were assuming ubiquity. We iterated through a number of display choices, discovering one really powerful jQuery plugin that lets you build a network “wall” of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, etc. This was our provisional choice, as it can easily be configured to display a constantly changing gallery of social media. But, it turned out, not Vine. Indeed, Vines can only be viewed easily within the Vine app. They may be shared to your Twitter stream, and displayed with a Twitter app or Twitter’s embedding tools, but the videos render as a link. Vine is a walled garden with nary a tendril growing through. There are sites that advertise themselves as Vine scrapers, but issues like R-rated advertising make them inappropriate.

We had, without realizing the implications, taken an implementation based on open web technologies, and moved to an implementation the features of which would be limited by what commercial software vendors would allow. We looked at various options for other social media platforms. We considered Instagram videos, but there’s no native Instagram client on the Kindle and displays were static and unengaging. As we tried to mix and match social media platforms, input and display technologies, we found ourselves considering options with wildly different implementation scopes. We were asking questions about products that were not answered in the commercial products scant documentation. Products needed to be downloaded and tested. While we wanted a way for people using their social media platform of choice and their own devices to be able to contribute, we discovered, by a process of elimination that, if we wanted to accept and display Vines, would could only display Vines. If we wanted to use other social media, we could not display Vines.

Thus. PARTI’s technical implementation will be two Kindle Fire Tablets running the Vine app, one to shoot short videos on the “stage” in front of the PARTI, the other to display a hashtag-based stream of Vines. Others may contribute by using their own devices to create Vines with the hashtag #UrbanoPARTI.

Urbano: Case Study Draft

This week, our efforts have been focused on the case study draft and working on our final iteration. Some of our team members went to Urbano to gather feedback about user experience and interactions (see our sketch model below, we’re waiting for components to arrive in the mail)

sketch model

Our case study is still a work-in-progress. You can view it here!


Urbano Team Update: Purchasing!

Apologies for the late blog post… hopefully late is better than never. I personally wasn’t able to attend the last couple of meetings due to traveling and things being scheduled when I have class, but I will do my best to summarize what’s been passed along through emails.

After discussing suitcase options with our project partners, Aditi ordered this one, which is 29″, from ebay for us (thanks!), and it is expected to arrive next week. Some members of the team spoke with Sasha about using Vine an Vojo and issues with pulling feeds of relevant content, and he suggested that Birkan, who is our lead web developer, meet with Ed Platt (developer at Center for Civic Media) for guidance.

We had originally wanted to purchase an Acer touchscreen and a 32GB microSD card to go with it, but we realized that these didn’t actually support Vine. After some discussion, we decided to go with two Kindle Fires 8.9″ tablets so we could keep the Vine + RSS feed idea. These should hopefully arrive by Tuesday of the coming week.

Urbano: Presentation!

We got some great feedback during last week’s lecture. Thanks to everyone who contributed! Here are the highlights, courtesy of our representative, Birkan.

  • Buy a hotspot to solve the internet/network problem
  • If the internet is down for some reason, show a stream of photos from people who have participated before
  • Ask Urbano if they are willing to take care of the maintenance of PARTI (hardware, software)
  • Make the suitcase appealing. This is about using visual signifiers like putting stickers of places that the PARTI has been to before
  • Take PARTI to places where tourists do not visit, or talk to organizations who are doing “Emancipated City” related projects and display PARTI there (target audience is current residents)

With this feedback in mind, we launched into our second product iteration. We looked into purchasing the key components of our installation, mainly the screen and the suitcase. After hearing the opinions of the Urbano staff, we decided to go with a “vintage”-looking suitcase. And after some careful searching on eBay, we settled on a couple nice options.

Green Suitcase Orange suitcase

We also explored some different screen options, compared here.

Although our final presentation will be in powerpoint, here is a collaborative googledoc version for the blogpost.

The PARTI Stamp of Approval

On Friday, some of our team visited Urbano to show Stella and Risa our first project iteration, which highlighted our suitcase proposal design for PARTI as described in our blog post from last week. It seems we got a preliminary stamp of approval, and Urbano has expressed how they’d like our team to not only design, but also build a prototype of our project installation. At this meeting, we devised the following flow of actions a potential user would take when interacting with our installation:

1a. Watch 1-2 minute long intro video created by Urbano students about Urbano and the year-long Emancipated City theme with thought-provoking, community-specific information.

1b. While an instructional animation plays, users create their own response to what they just saw, using the pens/papers/craft supplies supplied in the suitcase.

2. The user photographs a reply, optionally entering email/twitter handle to get a copy of the picture and/or to sign up for an Urbano mailing list.

3. PARTI posts the photograph social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

4. The user may choose to take their artistic creation with them, to place it in a receptacle in the suitcase, or to hang it up on a foldable display that comes with the PARTI installation.

The proposed action flow prompted several questions that we need to finalize answers for before next week.

  • We need to work out a more concrete use flow

    • When do they watch the video? – Maybe a “press me” button? or incorporate a proximity sensor that triggers the video to play when a person is near?

    • When do they make their reply? – At the end of the video, we could have a screen that asks the user if they want to share their Imagined City, if so, press a button and an instructional video will play

  • What hardware makes sense (Android? Windows? Tablet? What capabilities does it need?)

    • Needs – simple input/output (press a button, play a video), picture taking abilities, video recording abilities, can connect to the Internet and send picture and video files

  • Do schools/libraries/other sites have wifi or should we provide that?

    • Need to look into the cost of creating our own wireless hotspot

  • What is in the box besides the hardware?

    • art supplies

    • stand or support or some foldable organizational structure

    • theft prevention (like a tether)

    • wifi capabilities (optional)

    • space to hold a foldable display board

  • How are physical artifacts (the responses) displayed/saved or is it just digital?

    • users could either take their picture with them, post it on a foldable bulletin board, or place it in the suitcase

  • How does this integrate with Urbano’s new site?

We put together the following schedule and general task allocations for the coming week before the second project iteration is due as well as planning for the final project iteration and presentation.

  • 11/4:   Buy materials

  • 11/11: Assemble

  • 11/18: Put together content, including video

  • 11/25: Document the PARTI

  • 12/3:   Present the PARTI

Urbano Update: the First PARTI Iteration!

Yesterday (Monday), we met as a group to finalize our first project iteration. After congratulating ourselves for our first meeting outside of class with everyone physically in attendance (woot), we first reviewed feedback from Aditi, Sasha, and Becky and identified the key risks they saw in our proposal. It seemed that there was general concern about having enough time and budget to accomplish what we set out to do in our project proposal, and a suggestion was to narrow our focus to fewer components of the project – either the web interface or the physical installation and emphasizing the design and documentation so that the idea could be implemented by others. It was also suggested that we research other similar installation projects for inspiration.

102813 Meeting

From our meetings with Urbano, we knew that they wanted us to design and build them something, whether it be web-based or physical or both. Optimistic about our capabilities, we tried to stay true to our original intent (at least for now), while identifying ways and paths that could reduce our focus on some tasks and redirect them to others.

Although we are considering many different forms of interaction with users, such as video, audio, and visual, for our first design iteration,we decided to gather user feedback and interaction through drawings of users’ Imagined Cities that would be photographed for documentation so that we would be able to focus on the core technological platform that would be used throughout our project. For the mobile component and housing for our installation, we decided to use a suitcase, which would provide an existing platform on which to build. As seen in our sketch below, the suitcase would house a touchscreen that users would interact with. Besides taking pictures of the Imagined City drawings, the touchscreen would primarily show video displaying the work of Urbano student artists (to incorporate their work into the installation), instructions about how to use the installation, and background about Urbano, their mission, and the Emancipated City theme. The information could also incorporate information about the history of the community where the installation is located, which could be customized and also give users something to reflect on before they draw their Imagined Cities. Here are some UI examples for the touchscreen interface that Birkan made. The suitcase would be accompanied by a collapsible bulletin board on which participants could hang their drawings. In future installations, we intend to incorporate audio and video capabilities. Preliminary product research of the more significant components of our project (touchscreen, suitcase) have shown that we should be able to complete the project within the specified budget for the course.

First iteration

In terms of maintenance, the installation is designed to live within an indoor public space (libraries, community centers, museums, schools, youth organization centers), which would provide a small degree of security, but also be mobile in the sense that it could be packed up and transported to other sites easily. From time to time, the drawings would have to be gathered and taken back to Urbano and paper supplied to the installation, and every so often, the location of the installation would have to be changed.

With a design in place, we can move forward with purchasing the necessary components, playing with the software, and building the necessary mechanical inserts for the installation.