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Electronic Disturbance Theater/b.a.n.g. lab

The Transborder Immigrant Tool

Saturday, June 12, 2010 | 4:00 pm

An artist talk/conversation/presentation with Micha Cárdenas, Amy Sara Carroll, Ricardo Dominguez, Elle Mehrmand and Brett Stalbaum.


Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT) repurposes inexpensive used mobile phones that have GPS antennae. The project approximates a code-switch, a queer technology. Its software aspires to guide “the tired, the poor,” the dehydrated—citizens of the world—to water safety sites.

Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT), a code-switch by Electronic Disturbance Theater and b.a.n.g. lab at CALIT2 at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, enables cast-away, disposable mobile phones to function as personal safety navigation systems in the Mexican-U.S. borderlands. An artivist gesture, TBT is both powered by software that leads desert-walkers to water caches and by poetry that performatively poses the question, "What constitutes sustenance?" A return to the utopian impulses of hospitality, freedom, justice, –and the aesthetic ("Poetry is not a luxury!"), TBT kinship-diagrams Luis Alberto Urrea's maxim for the "untimely present": "In the desert, we are all illegal aliens."

On Saturday, Electronic Disturbance Theater/b.a.n.g. lab members will premiere "Sustenance: A Play for All Trans[  ]Borders."” The collectively written script, edited by Amy Sara Carroll and Ricardo Dominguez, is scheduled to be released by Printed Matter Inc. later this month.

Transborder Immigrant Tool is being exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, CA, and will be part of the 2010 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, CA, later this year.

For more information on this work and the project as a whole, navigate:

Micha Cárdenas/Azdel Slade [] is an artist/theorist whose work spans from erotic mixed reality performance in motion capture studios to dislocative border disturbance art in remote desert areas, always striving to find limits and challenge them. Her transreal work mixes physical and networked spaces in order to explore emerging forms of queer relationality, biopolitics and DIY horizontal knowledge production. She is a Lecturer in the Visual Arts department at University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She is an Artist/Researcher in the Experimental Game Lab at CRCA and the b.a.n.g. lab at Calit2. Micha holds an MFA from UCSD, an MA in Media and Communications with distinction from the European Graduate School and a BS in Computer Science from FIU. She has exhibited and performed in Los Angeles, Tijuana, New York, San Francisco, Montreal, Egypt, Ecuador, Spain, Ireland and many other places. Micha's work has been written about in publications including the LA Times, CNN, BBC World, Associated Press and Rolling Stone Italy. Her extended essay, Trans Desire is paired with Barbara Fornssler's Affective Cyborgs in Atropos Press's recently released Trans Desire/Affective Cyborgs (May 20, 2010).

Amy Sara Carroll, an assistant professor of American Culture, Latina/o Studies, and English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is a visiting scholar-artist in the Visual Arts Department at UCSD. Her academic essays have appeared in TDR, Signs, e-misférica, and the edited volume, Representación y fronteras: el performance en los límites del género. Her poetry has appeared in such journals and anthologies as Version, vandal, HOW2, Rattle, Jubilat, Carolina Quarterly, The Iowa Review, Mandorla, Chain, Bombay Gin, Seneca Review, Borderlands, and This Bridge We Call Home. She translated and created subtitles and visual poems for Claudio Valdés Kuri’'s theatrical production El automóvil gris/The Grey Automobile, which has been performed in such places as the Wexner Center (Columbus, OH), the Portland Institute of Contemporary Arts (OR), the Goodman Latino Theatre Festival (Chicago, IL), the Anglo Mexico Foundation (Mexico City), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), and the North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC). Her visual poetry has been displayed in locales like ISEA 2009 (Dublin, Ireland), FILE 2008 (São Paulo, Brazil), the San Diego Museum of Art (San Diego, CA), the Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar (Denver, CO), the Nave Gallery (Somerville, MA), and the Audre Lorde Project (Brooklyn, NY). Her first book of poetry and prints, SECESSION, is forthcoming from Hyperbole Books (an imprint of San Diego State University Press).

Ricardo Dominguez is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), a group who developed virtual-sit-in technologies in 1998 in solidarity with the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico. He is co-Director of Thing ( an ISP for artists and activists. His recent Electronic Disturbance Theater project with Brett Stabaum, Micha Cardenas, Elle Mehrmand, and Amy Sara Carroll Transborder Immigrant Tool (a GPS cellphone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/U.S border was the winner of “Transnational Communities Award”, this award was funded by Cultural Contact, Endowment for Culture Mexico-U.S. and handed out by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico), also funded by CALIT2 and two Transborder Awards from the UCSD Center for the Humanities. Ricardo is an Associate Professor at UCSD in the Visual Arts Department, a Hellman Fellow, and Principal/Principle Investigator at CALIT2. He is also co-founder of particle group with artists Diane Ludin, Nina Waisman, Amy Sara Carroll a gesture about nanotechnology entitled Particles of Interest: Tales of the Matter Market that was presented in Berlin (2007), the San Diego Museum of Art (2008), Oi Futuro, and FILE festivals in Brazil (2008). He recently published an essay on Electronic Civil Disobedience in the French journal “multitudes” (issue 41) and an essay on the future of inventing the future of on-line agitprop theater appeared in PMLA in 2009.

Elle Mehrmand [] is a performance/new media artist and musician who uses the body, electronics, video, sound and installation within her work. She is the singer and trombone player of Assembly of Mazes, a music collective who creates dark, electronic, middle eastern, rhythmic jazz rock. Elle is currently an MFA candidate at UCSD, and received her BFA in art photography with a minor in music at CSULB. Elle has received grants from UCIRA, the Russell Foundation and Fine Arts Affiliates. She is a researcher at CRCA and the b.a.n.g. lab at UCSD. Her performances have been shown in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Tijuana, Montreal, Dublin, San Diego and Bogotá, Colombia. Her work has been discussed in Art21, the LA Times,, Reno News and Review and the OC Weekly.

Brett Stalbaum is a C5 research theorist specializing in information theory, database, and software development. A serial collaborator, he was a co-founder of the Electronic Disturbance Theater in 1998, for which he co-developed software called FloodNet (, which has been used on behalf of the Zapatista movement against the websites of the Presidents of Mexicoand the United States, as well as the Pentagon. As Forbes Magazine put it "Perhaps the first electronic attack against a target on American soil was the result of an art project." For EDT, this was all learned behavior taught by the example of Zapatismo. Also known for his work with C5 corp and, Stalbaum holds an MFA in fine art from CADRE at San Jose State University, a BA in Film Studies from San Francisco State University, and an AA in Music from Napa Valley College. He is a full-time lecturer with security employment in Visual Arts at UCSD
(Academic Senate faculty) and coordinator for the Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts Major (ICAM). Current research can be found at, an umbrella site for generative walking algorithms, the development of mobile software and GPS APIs (walkingtools reference APIs), applications for narrative walking art (HiperGeo), and related activist software (Transborder Immigrant Tool). work has been presented world wide, most recently at SCANZ (New Zealand), FILE (Brazil), and the Edith Russ Haus (Germany). Staubam lives in an unincorporated area of Eastern San Diego County, USA.


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