Rem Project, San Juan

Calle Canals #204, Piso 1, Santurce San Juan, Puerto Rico

remproject@remove.me @gmail.com

www.remproject.gallery

 

 

Rafael Vargas Bernard

Buscando en el escombro / for something better

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria confirmed the ineptitude, corruption, and obsolescence of the government of Puerto Rico coupled with decades of colonial neglect and indifference by the federal government of the United States. Puerto Ricans are awakening from the illusion that the government serves the people's interests. We have suffered emotional turmoil, financial crisis, loss of basic infrastructure, rampant unemployment, food shortage, plus widespread damage, destruction and loss of property. Neither the federal nor the colonial governments have attempted or been able to better the post-hurricane situation in Puerto Rico and the citizens have had to take direct action to help the island and its people survive. We need to emerge from under the debris of the Estado Libre Asociado.

This project consists of works created from or referencing debris and wreckage and represent ideas about post-Maria Puerto Rico and the circumstances leading to the colonies current condition. Some pieces are interactive, requiring simple and physical direct or indirect participation. Most consist of or are a result of a generative digital, electrical, or mechanical system. All produce sound. Most are connected to a central sound system in the project space. 

Born 1979 in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Rafael Vargas Bernard is a visual artist focus in digital art and new media tendencies. He studied sculpture at the Escuela de Artes Plasticas de Puerto Rico and computer engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA), Residency program La Practica at Beta Local (Puerto Rico), participated in the residency program created by Alanna Heiss, Clocktower Productions(NYC). Also, Mana Contemporary curated by Ysabel Pinyol and exhibition: Focus on Puerto Rico.(Miami). As part of his compromise with the future next art generations Rafael Vargas Bernard is an art educator for museums and institutions and communities.

His work explores functional and non-functional systems (including power structures, economic systems and generative systems) and societies relationship with these. He creates pieces and experiences that are often interactive and require participation with the intention of provoking dialogue and action. He employs readily accessible materials and technologies, found objects, and a utilitarian esthetic. 

His work has been exhibited twice (2) at Biennal Tropical, Curated by Pablo Leon de la Barra (Gugenhein Museum Latin American Curator), Exit Art, Curated by Papo Colo (New York), Peripher, Curated by Lisa Ladner (Zürich), and Las Naves , Curated by Laura Bravo.(Spain). Amond others. Rafael is part of the permanent collection of the Museo de Arte Contempor‡neo de Puerto Rico and Museo de Arte de Caguas. Collection Hernandez Castrodad. Awarded by PUMA Creative Art Network, Curated by Mark Coetzee with a participation on Basel (Swiss) and Documenta (Germany). Also have participated at NADA Art Fair and now VOLTA Art Fair. 

Vargas Bernard utilizes performance, sound, programming, sculpture, video, painting, humor, and drawing in his creative practice.

Rafael Vargas Bernard

Se voló la puerta / and everyone can see inside

2018, Found wooden door, tactile transducer speakers, insulated wire, teensy 3.2 development board, accelerometer and x, y and z position sensor, and acrylic paint

 

This piece consists of a door that is cut in half and then joined together to form a 90 degree angle. The door is suspended from the ceiling. The door contains drawings (made by a programmed and glitched vertical plotter) of the wind directions and trajectory of Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico. This door contains a direction/position sensor and accelerometer. It produces sound frequencies which allude to hurricane sounds but the frequencies remain unchanged unless the door is pushed, spun, or moved in any way. It is a call to action and also represents how the situations in Puerto Rico were exposed by the aftermath of Maria and how the people must take action for this visibility to last and to produce positive change.

Rafael Vargas Bernard, Se voló la puerta / and everyone can see inside, 2018, Found wooden door, tactile transducer speakers, insulated wire, teensy 3.2 development board, accelerometer and x, y and z position sensor, and acrylic paint
Rafael Vargas Bernard, Analizando post-Maria Puerto Rico, 2018, Hot press cotton watercolor paper, acrylic aerosol paint, acrylic paint marker, acrylic medium, acrylic paint, wood, insulated wire, teensy 3.2 development board, and RGB color and light sensor
Rafael Vargas Bernard, Analizando post-Maria Puerto Rico, 2018, Hot press cotton watercolor paper, acrylic aerosol paint, acrylic paint marker, acrylic medium, acrylic paint, wood, insulated wire, teensy 3.2 development board, and RGB color and light sensor

Rafael Vargas Bernard

Analizando post-Maria Puerto Rico (1-4)

2018, Hot press cotton watercolor paper, acrylic aerosol paint, acrylic paint marker, acrylic medium, acrylic paint, wood, insulated wire, teensy 3.2 development board, and RGB color and light sensor

These paintings contain images (made by a programmed and glitched vertical plotter) based on the wind directions and trajectory of Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico, in addition to abstracted photographs taken from different Puerto Rican citizens’ Facebook accounts. The images include a plantain field where all the plants are dead on the floor, a woman collecting water from a broken pipe, a street with all electrical posts have fallen and a woman waiting in vain for FEMA to bring her food and supplies. These paintings are mounted on the wall with wood latices mimicking the way windows and doors are covered with wood panels. These can be “analyzed” by participants using an RGB color sensor on the end of a dowel, which translates the frequencies of each color channel to separate audio sine waveforms which are then combined to produce a sound relative to each colors RGB values.

Rafael Vargas Bernard, Buscando en el escombro / for something better collectors edition audio single, 2018, Electrical conduit, wood, plastic, cement, usb drive, and insulated usb cable

Rafael Vargas Bernard

Buscando en el escombro / for something better collectors edition audio single (1-3)

2018, Electrical conduit, wood, plastic, cement, usb drive, and insulated usb cable

Each piece contains an 18 minute audio composition recorded using only the sound from the pieces in this project. The only way to attain this audio piece is to own one of the pieces. The audio can be previewed using the headphones in the installation.

Rafael Vargas Bernard, Privatizaron a la telefónica hace tiempo and soon the Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica, 2018, Electrical conduit, junction boxes, insulated wire, teensy 3.2 development board, and laser proximity sensors.

Rafael Vargas Bernard

Privatizaron a la telefónica hace tiempo and soon the Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica (1-3)

2018, Electrical conduit, junction boxes, insulated wire, teensy 3.2 development board, and laser proximity sensors.

The wire in the pieces moves around erratically and the randomness and duration of the movement will be affected by a person's proximity. The sound created by the sculptures will be generated by proximity and wire movement data being translated into audio sine waveforms. This is about public over-site of utilities and government run programs.

Rafael Vargas Bernard, Buscando donde cargar / and my electricity withdrawl, 2018, EMT conduit, EMT junction box, wood, copper wires, micro-controller board, controllable multi-outlet, speaker, servo motor, HC-SR04 ultrasonic ranging distance sensor, 2.8 watt amp, epoxy, enamel paint and programming, 60 x 45 x 30 approximately

Rafael Vargas Bernard

Buscando donde cargar / and my electricity withdrawl

2018, EMT conduit, EMT junction box, wood, copper wires, micro-controller board, controllable multi-outlet, speaker, servo motor, HC-SR04 ultrasonic ranging distance sensor, 2.8 watt amp, epoxy, enamel paint and programming, 60 x 45 x 30 approximately

 

All day ventures searching for hours for places to charge a phone and flashlight batteries in post-Maria Puerto Rico, the anxiety caused by electricity withdrawal, the moments shared with so many others experiencing the same situation, and failing electrical infrastructure. This sound sculpture randomly searches for the proximity of any object and uses the distance data to generate an audio sine wave frequency that is modulated by another audio sine wave frequency relative to the position towards where it is searching, and all this combined controls the how the lights switch on and off.