Project URL: http://www.ungravity.org/corridos/
Corrido: Oral form of communication, deeply rooted in mexican culture, perfected during the revolution (1910), when the media was co-opted by the government, as an opensource, peer to peer efficient way of disseminating news from afar, mainly great battles and heroic gestures. In recent decades, this form has been retaken to sing about famous narcotraffickers and big trafficking operations. Narco-corrido songs tell the sometimes sad, cynical and romanticed adventures of narco traffikers who take great risks to deliver drugs across the mexican/us frontera, over a polka or waltz beat in the background. In keeping with the folklore of illegality of the norteño frontera, in older narco-corridos, words for drugs and weapons were codefied --heroin is a chiva (goat), marijuana is gallo (rooster), cocaine is perico (parrot), unlike the more obvious and crude terminology of recent corridos. Corridos are usually commissioned to norteño musicians by the traffikers themselves, who like to hear songs about their exploits, beginning at 500 USD and going up.
Corridos the game has two neighborhoods semi-factually based on two nearby neighboorhoods on the us mexican frontier; a section of downtown tijuana and an adjacent mall in us san ysidro. The neighborhoods were modeled by looking at maps and taking photos. Tijuana is still a major point of entry for drugs en route to the biggest market of the world, as it had been since the US is not 'officially' buying the drugs produced in Mexico, which was actually the case after World War II, when mexican farmers in neighboring Sinaloa were trained by US paid chinese technicians to harvest poppy seeds, in order to satisfy the demand of morphine for heavily addicted U.S. soldiers. The best route to move the drug was through Tijuana, so all the infrastructure created under US request and funding just decided to stay. Unlike the deaths in most of the corridos songs, more recent narco deaths, 60 violent murders in the first two months of 2005 in Tijuana when we first moved there, inclulding the chief of police, are due to a power vacuum after the crumbling of the Arellano-Felix Organization, with one of its main chiefs dead and the other imprisoned. According to 'Zeta' newspaper, one of the few mexican papers to contain factual information on narcos, the Gulf Cartel, commanded by Osiel Cardenas, is trying to regain the zone from what's left of the once really violent and powerful Arellano Felix Organization. Osiel is imprisoned but his death squad 'Los Zetas', composed of deserted mexican soldiers, is still loyal to him, and as had been said, are trying to gain control of the California area.
Hakim Bay has postulated that corruption can create an environment favorable to his famous TAZes: temporary autonomous zones like carribean islands where communites of european pirates, escaped african slaves and indians lived together in anarchistic freedom, participating in non stop parties with music, dancing, and lawlessness. Tijuana, perhaps even more than the rest of Mexico, is a place were law is so flexible. In this optic we can examine places like Bar Zacazonapan, half a block from the local police station, which by the way, is facing the main street of the red light district. Patrons can ask the bartender for joints and snort coke lines on their table. Towards the back of the bar, near the restrooms, tweakers smoke ice on light bulbs. Ice, or smokable methanphatmine, according to the DEA website, is the top number one drug of the 2000's not only in depressed small town Americana but also is gaining popularity in Mexico, because of the low cost and intense availability due to easy synthesis, one gram can cost from 3-9 USD, street prize . Many of the people who work long hours in TJ, taxi drivers, bartenders, hawkers and hustlers, stay awake on ice, despite the severe health side effects that set in after just a few months.
In March 2005 a new tunnel was found between a middle class neighborhood in Calexico in the US and a upscale home in Mexico. Since 2003, 8 narco tunnels have been discovered in California and 15 in Arizona, according to the DEA. Some of them are quite high tech with electricity, ventilation and rail systems. In Corridos we wanted to make a secret tunnel for cars where you could cross the border driving really fast, instead of waiting for hours at border controls. Corridos is basically a computer game about driving and listening to music .Corridos is also a game about exchange between countries. This exchange is part of a fluid set of interactions despite the border. The Bush administration labels the narco operators, "narco terrorists", neatly fitting them into another neo-conservative good and evil package, another coy maneuver since 911 and the war on terror. In corridos we only focused on illegal exchanges, but illegal and legal exchange has been the most important vector affecting the zone, historically speaking, traversing many directions and levels, from eldery gringos crossing to tijuana to buy cheap legal medication, sometimes controlled substances in the U.S, and retire to trailer homes further south in baja mexico, or US women who travel to tijuana and rosarito for plastic surgery, to computers and electronics that are smuggled to Mexico to avoid heavy Mexican government taxes, or mexicans going to San Diego to buy consumer products, US marines partying in the clubs of Tj and Rosarito and visiting prostitutes (although so many soldiers are currently stationed in Iraq that downtown Tijuana feels like a ghost town.) And of course the exchange of people smuggling, the many mexicans and other latin americans who risk their lives to cross the border in dangerous conditions and if they survive work to help support families at home, fueling the US economy in many ways.
Corridos is a computer game, done with open source tools including Blender, distributed freely in the internet as a downloadable application, running on all platforms.
Schleiner received her BA in studio art from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MFA in computers in fine art from San Jose State University. She is currently an assistant professor of fine art at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Her work has been exhibited at diverse venues, including the Centro de la Imagen (Mexico City, Mexico, 2004); The New Museum (New York, US, 2004); The Whitney Biennale (New York, US, 2004); and the American Museum of the Moving Image (New York, US, 2002). Schleiner founded and manages opensorcery.net, a website focused on game hacks and open source digital art forms, and has been actively involved in the anti-war game performance art initiatives Velvet-Strike and OUT. She designed the games Anime Noir and Heaven711 and has curated numerous online exhibitions of game mods and add-ons, including Snow Blossom House, Sonar Festival (Barcelona, Spain, 2001) and Mutation.fem, an online exhibition hosted by Alien Intelligence, Kiasma Museum (Helsinki, Finland, 2000). Schleiner currently lives and works in Boulder.
Hernandez (Mexico City, Mexico, 1977) studied architecture at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. His work ranges from virtual architecture to installation and videogame intervention. Hernandez co-founded Heterarquia, an organization dedicated to architectural experimentation and low-tech, developing proposals for an interactive surface, an interactive pavilion, that obtained second prize in the Third Arquine Competition; and a low-cost shelter for the homeless. [narrowcast], a public installation that he produced as an artist in residence at the Sala del Cielo at the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City (also shown as part of Vitrinas, a public art program), reflects his interest in surveillance and public space. Hernández was commissioned by rhizome.org to produce Oversaturation, a video game dealing with limited space. He has produced extensive illustrations for Disco Movil Voyager, as well as designs for Orbe® T-shirts and OUT posters. Hernández has also recently collaborated with Anne-Marie Schleiner on her work OUT. He currently lives and works in Boulder.
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