El Barrio’s art project

The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute has been named the developer of a decommissioned, historic landmark Romanesque Revival-style firehouse located at 120 E. 125th St. in El Barrio, to open in 2015.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

Last week, Dr. Marta Moreno-Vega, president and founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), announced the planned art and historic exhibition “Mi Querido Barrio” (My Dear Neighborhood), celebrating the rich history in East Harlem’s El Barrio.

Mi Querido Barrio, a two-year project, is an augmented reality exhibition. Simply put, it is a view of a real-world environment (which is/was physically somewhere else) transformed digitally, appearing on your smart phone.

Triggers at on-site posters throughout East Harlem (La Marqueta, Tito Puente’s birth location, the Young Lord’s garbage offense, or Willie Mays stickball locations, to name a few) call forth on your phone the digital artwork. Sound, graphics, and video are also part of the digital-transformed creation.

If this all seems very conceptual, a demonstration using a smart phone makes it straightforward.

Nine artists from diverse artistic backgrounds have been brought together to produce an exhibition using this latest technology paying homage to the vast contributions of East Harlem’s community.

The newly launched art project will map historic and cultural areas of New York’s El Barrio neighborhood. Each artist will create a site-specific virtual artwork. At the end of the training period for artists, there will be a limited public exhibition as an example of what the final project will be.

The artists have been trained by Tamiko Thiel, a German-based visual artist, who has developed artistic capabilities of various forms of this technology for exploring social and cultural issues. Bruce Lincoln is directing the project along with a technology advisor, historian, and workshop coordinator.

This is a homecoming for cultural activist Dr. Moreno-Vega, who was born and grew up in El Barrio.

Having devoted her life to preserving, nurturing and showcasing Hispanic arts, she is clearly on the wave of a “now” art form, situating CCCADI stanchly into the 21st century. With this recognition, Dr. Moreno-Vega says, “It is an exciting time for us here at the Center as we have the opportunity to train and open a new field to a diverse group of artists.”

Dr. Marta Moreno-Vega, president and founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), listens to partners and participating artists talk about the planned art and historic exhibition “Mi Querido Barrio” (My Dear Neighborhood) celebrating the rich history in East Harlem’s El Barrio.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

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