Projecting Particles Youth Workshop in Havana

June 3, 2015 Arts

The Projecting Particles youth workshop combines particle physics concepts and projection art to inform students on the latest particle physics concepts while encouraging them to visualize and express their understandings through a Tagtool iPad app designed to create projection art.

For the Havana workshop students sat in on a presentation at La Escuela Secundaria de Havana, by Mexican physicist, Dr. Luis Flores Castillo whose visit was sponsored by ATLAS Experiment at CERN. Students explored the question, What is space?” which, following the interests of the participants, related to the big bang theory, spacetime and other symmetries, the Higgs field, the discovery of the Higgs boson, the search for Dark Matter and Supersymmetry, and the idea of Dark Energy.

Then, in an open air workshop at the Parque Trillo in Centro Habana, students continued a physics chat with Luis followed by Tagtool  instruction from Markus Dorninger, Austrian artist and developer of the Tagtool app. Students learned how to paint and animate their ideas in real time as the images projected on to the side of a building. The public was encouraged to listen in and ask questions and try out the app.

Malu Tavares, Abbey Hepner and Adrian Pijoan documented the workshop and event which will be available this year as part of a short documentary video.

Touring the Biennial with Senator Udall and Jill Udall

June 1, 2015 Arts


One of the highlights of my journey to the Havana Biennial was getting to visit with Senator Udall and Jill Udall who came to show their support, along with congressmen, Grijalva, Franken and Larson. They came to the Pabellon Cuba exhibit hall for a preview of our exhibit, Between, Inside, Outside, and gave a little talk to the public. Then the electricity went out in the entire hall and they were not able to see my installation and other electronic pieces. In the Cuban spirit that we came to know after just a week in Havana, the curators continued unwavering with the tour. Each artist gave a lively talk about the work as best we could and the Udall’s will have the opportunity to see my installation when it comes back to New Mexico.

That evening, the curators Royce Smith and Dannys Montes De Oca, held a wonderful dinner in old Havana for the artists and congressional delegation. The food was excellent and it was a wonderful celebration of our successful inauguration. The next morning Senator Udall and Jill invited us to see some art with them and we had the pleasure of joining them for a tour of the Zona Franca exhibit at the Morro-Cabaña, one of my favorites site at the Biennial. If anyone is planning a trip to the Havana Biennial this is not to be missed, along with our exhibit, of course, Between, Inside, Outside in the Pabellon Cuba.

Thanks again to the Udall’s for always being there to support local artists and in particular for this unique cultural exchange between US and Cuba at such a pivotal time in our history.

About Marcel Schwittlick

May 30, 2015 Arts

marcel berlin

For the projection installation, Origination Point, which was presented at the Havana Biennial, I collaborated with Marcel Schwittlick, a young German visual artist that incorporates programming and technology into his work. We started working together in Berlin just 8 weeks before show time. Check out his website for more about this cool new artist.

Apart from his creativity and skill, he demonstrated his ultimate dedication to his work when he climbed in through a window at 1am to get into the exhibit hall to make some final edits to the piece. He almost got arrested if not for Roberto, his Chilean friend who was able to speak in Spanish and explain. Thanks Marcel and Roberto!

In his personal work he is examining new possibilities of modern technology. He is interested in digital culture and its inclinations on society and is working in strong connection to various fields in the arts, forging a connection between physical and digital media. He’s experimenting with a variety of media ranging from digital images, physical and interactive installations, videos to physical acrylic paintings. The play with media is a basic property of his work challenging the spectator to see his work outside of the context of one specific media and immerse into the underlying story. This story will often be communicated and transformed with his technological thinking, putting the future onto display. His main objective is to make virtual and digital aspects of life more tangible and emphasize the necessity for critical but open examination of tendencies in this ever changing point in time.

For those that wanted to know more about the technical creation of the installation, Marcel shares his process below:

For the visual part of the piece, it was essential that a generative approach be chosen. Generative in this context means that the visual output is slightly different every time the application is run, but still within certain boundaries, which I expressed in code. The visuals in it’s entirety are generated in real-time.
For developing the software for the piece I used the collaboratively developed creative coding framework OpenFrameworks. OpenFrameworks is not a ‘program’, it’s essentially a set of tools for creating experimental media based applications.

The entire piece is constructed of generative and static elements. The nature of the generative approach is to let the computer have a certain degree of freedom in the creation of the piece. Many of the generative elements in this piece are using Perlin noise ( in all it’s varieties.
In Act One, the texture of the stone wall is generated with a two-dimension noise field, the shapes and margins between the individual, small rocks are governed by a smoothed voronoi diagram. The vector field is animated in relation to a three-dimensional noise field. The walking stones are animated with the concept of a random walk, which is essentially governed by random, the brother of noise.

In Act two, the texture of the rock is created via a combination of generative and static elements. In order to create the texture, many image of brush strokes are used, which are arranged randomly in relation to the shape of the rock. The shape of the rock is generated through an underlying voronoi diagram, which is slightly adjusted in order to create a big, organic and centered cell.

For act three, all layers that are introduced in this act are variations of the growing rock from Act 2 being layered over each other with different transparencies.

Thanks again to my sponsors!

May 30, 2015 Arts


As the dust settles from the whirlwind journey to the Havana Biennial 2015 and back, I wanted to take a minute to thank again the people and organizations that helped make this possible through their generous contributions. For sponsors that are expecting their rewards, I am planning to have them delivered by the end of June.

Mil gracias!!!

UNM CFA Office of the Dean
ATLAS Experiment at CERN
Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Republic of Austria
Social Media Workgroup/Americorps VISTA
 (Markus Dorninger and Malu Tavares for generous contribution of equipment and time)
Josh and Kate Comfort
Andrea Szekeres
Mary H. Burns
Barney and Ursula Berkowitz
Matt Thomas and Richard Spera
Mark Speight
Shelli Bergmann
Magda Chavez
Mary Calas

That’s a wrap!

May 27, 2015 Arts


Contributing blogger, Juliane Aguilar, UNM art student assistant

And we’re back in the USA!

Our trip concluded with the student Tagtool performances, which went off without a hitch… that is, until it started pouring rain! It ended up being a cathartic end to a crazy 9 days in Havana, in which we dealt with delays, reschedules, denials of permission for the workshop by the government (really!), but in the end succeeded in accomplishing nearly everything we set out to do.

The students’ Tagtool drawings projected onto a building in Havana

The students were naturals with Tagtool. Speaking to the immense kindness and generosity we had experienced so far from nearly every Cuban we’d met, some kind people allowed us to use their home’s electricity to power the projector and a stereo. Salsa blared and the students lit up the night with awesome drawings and animations. They were so talented with the app, and did awesome things that drew a pretty big crowd from the park we were in!

It was such a privilege to be allowed into Cuba to see the amazing city of Havana, and to work beside so many people who were so kind and helpful. These have been 9 days we will never forget. As Cuba begins to open up to the outside world, Havana will no doubt begin to change, and fast. Developers will move in and change the face of the city. Residents will experience gentrification. Modernity will arrive, but at what cost? We are so lucky to have been able to experience the country while it is standing at the threshold between past and future, and to have met so many people and heard so many stories.

Projecting pARTicles will be on view for the next month at the Pabellon Cuba as part of the Bienal de la Habana. We are all so proud of the work we accomplished, and if you can, please go experience this installation and the rest of the festival. There’s no better way to experience Havana than to simply go outside and start walking, and this festival is perfect for just that.

We have to thank Agnes for putting her trust in us to accomplish her vision, and we also have to thank the University of New Mexico, The Department of Art and Art History Dean Kymberly Pinder, and The Department of Art and Art History Chair Mary Tsiongas for funding and supporting our trip. It was a trip of a lifetime, and something special and unique that so few have been able to experience.

I also must thank my fellow grad students for all their hard work. Cristine was invaluable as the installation leader and head translator. Abbey went above and beyond the call of duty manning the cameras and photographing and filming everything! Adrian took care of the sound recording for the videos, and was our secondary translator and all-around jack of all trades. These three are beyond awesome, and it was a honor to work with them.

To see our work, check out our websites!

Cristine Posner:
Abbey Hepner:
Adrian Pijoan:
Julianne Aguilar:

I’ve had a great time writing this blog, but must now sign off.

Dr. Flores Castillo and Agnes talking with students during the final workshop

Dr. Luis Flores Castillo, CERN physicst explaining physics concepts to students during the final Projecting Particles workshop.

Success! “We” did it.

May 26, 2015 43 Arts


“The Havana Biennial was established in 1984 and is one of the longest-standing biennial art exhibitions. “Entre, Dentro, Fuera / Between, Inside, Outside” marks the first time in the history of the Havana Biennial in which a Cuban and U.S. curator have closely worked together on a project.” This article provides a little background information on the co-curators Royce Smith and Dannys Montes de Oca, as well as the exhibit.

Everyone worked together as a team to realize this exhibit. From the curators who had to navigate the organizational hurdles on a minute by minute basis, to the construction team and custodians working with limited resources to build the structures, to the artists who had to adapt and invent in response to a constantly changing panorama. This was Cuba, where we got to experience in one week what Cubans experience every day in their lives. So what is my lasting impression as I write from Miami just one day after leaving Havana?

As a Cuban-American I am no stranger to the positive and inventive nature of the Cuban people. Yet I was still marveled at how they maintained this outlook and approach to life in the face of systemic curve balls being hurled on a daily basis. Vacationing in Cuba is not the same as ‘working’ in Cuba and participating in the Biennial as an artist provided this unique and unforgettable opportunity. Whenever we encountered one of those curve balls the Cuban people would always respond with ‘Todo es posible!’ or ‘Vamos a encontrar manera’ ‘We will find a way’, and they did. Even if it meant taking the shirt off their back, or in my case, offering me their personal fan. After Cristine, our UNM art student assistant, spent all day trying to buy a fan for my space, our Cuban assistant offered to bring hers from home. We experienced this on a regular basis and this was what left a lasting impression.

This doesn’t mean that the Cuban people accept the broken systems that often lead to chaos. They are always looking for ways to improve things and I also saw a lot of hope that changes will come. My wonderful Cuban assistant Viviana shared a story that the new US-Cuba relationship was announced on December 17th, a special saints day for San Lazaro, the healer, which for the Cuban people is known as the day of miracles. We are all hoping for the miracle that the transition will be a positive one for all.

Thanks to Dannys  and Royce for inviting me and taking on this challenge and congratulations to their success! The exhibit “Entre, Dentro, Fuera / Between, Inside, Outside” will be up in the Pabellon until June 25, 2015. Please go to Havana to see it.

Bienal time!

May 24, 2015 Arts

Contributing blogger, Julianne Aguilar, UNM art student assistant

 Contributing blogger, Julianne Aguilar, UNM art student assistant

It’s finally here – the Bienal opening weekend! Last night was the inauguration party, and when I say party, I mean PARTY! The Bienal knows how to throw a good one. There was an awesome variety of music from Cuba and all over the world, and the biggest dance floor I’ve ever seen was full of revellers having a great time and busting a move despite of the sticky heat.

Entre, Dentro, Fuera (Between, Inside, Outside), where Projecting pARTicles is installed, was packed to the brim today as the official celebrations got underway. IMG_20150523_133448But, as this is Cuba, after all, a minor complication arose when we needed a ladder. However, the Bienal staff came through, as always, and a ladder materialized out of nowhere, and all was well. The afternoon started with a short talk by Agnes and us four students to a group from the University of New Mexico about the piece and what it was like to undertake such an endeavor in a country with such limitations. We all agreed that learning to stay on your toes and adapt to changes, delays and other challenges at the drop of a hat is key. Also, have awesome fabricators who can make magic happen no matter what the problem is! Heat and sun are no deterrent for the many Bienal-goers, and the city is full of people from all over the world here to experience this unique event.

IMG_20150522_133027Walking around we heard a dozen or more languages being spoken, which really gives you the feeling that Cuba is opening up to the world at last. We really get the idea that we’re here at a unique moment, and we are so grateful to be welcomed here to experience this amazing place. Tomorrow is the Tagtool projection performance with Markus and the local school kids, which is a great way to spend our last day in Cuba. Abbey, Markus and director Malu Tavares have done a great job documenting everything that has been happening, and you can look forward to their documentary about this experience. It’s been an exhausting week, but one that we’ll never, ever forget!

Higgs and beyond!

May 22, 2015 Arts

Contributing blogger, Julianne Aguilar, UNM art student assistant

It’s done!

Projecting pARTicles is up and running, and what an experience it’s been. Neither heat nor humidity could stop us! With the Bienal opening today we didn’t finish a moment too soon.

We had a moment of scariness when we were told all our equipment had to go through customs, but we made it through.

Focuses have shifted to the student workshop, where Agnes is teaching the Tagtool app. But that’s not the most exciting part! The Bienal has graciously and awesomely invited Dr. Luis Roberto Flores Castillo to come to Havana and be a part of the workshop. Luis isn’t just any physicist – he was a part of the CERN team that discovered the Higgs Particle! He is also a professor at the University of Hong Kong. The Atlas Experiment at CERN is sponsoring Luis to help make this possible.

Luis will do a presentation to the scientific community on Saturday at 5pm at the Salon de Mayo in the Pabellon building. Needless to say it is an extreme honor to have him here with us. As part of the workshop, he is teaching the kids about the Higgs and other tenets of particle physics. I can’t think of a better person to do it!

Tomorrow we’ll all be giving a presentation about Projecting pARTicles, and today the final, final, final finishing touches are going into the installation. It’s been a crazy ride but it’s all coming together in a pretty great way!

The Biennal fabrication team could not have been more helpful, understanding and cool, and we could not have done any of this without them. Cheers to them!

Getting it done!

May 19, 2015 Arts

Contributing blogger, Julianne Aguilar, UNM art student assistant

Wow! It’s been a crazy first two days in Havana!

What an incredible and surprising city this is. The people! The food! The architecture! All amazing. Everyone has been so welcoming, and we could not have asked for a better introduction to this city.

The Projecting pARTicles team has been hard at work scoping out our pavilion and getting ready for our big install day tomorrow! The Biennale team has been great. Our space looks great and they couldn’t be more accommodating.

Tomorrow we put the final touches on everything. The projector and Kinect will be calibrated and we’ll see the final piece as it has been planned for months!

Havana has been so good to us. The weather is gorgeous and we’ve met the kindest people and eaten the most delicious food.

Tomorrow is the big day. After that, we switch gears and get ready for the Tagtool work shop!

Check back tomorrow for more updates. See you soon!

Between Idea and Experience

May 18, 2015 Arts

Lorraine Monteagut, contributing blogger

The streets of Havana are sizzling with activity! Powered by the infectious energy of the Cuban people, the Projecting pARTticles team is currently hard at work on the installation, double-checking measurements, climbing scaffolding, making adjustments. Our Cuban friends have been invaluable in the process, lending their expertise and resourcefulness to transform the team’s vision into reality.

The installation, Origination Point, will be up and running with the opening of the Biennial this Friday, May 22. It is housed in El Pabellon, a massive indoor/outdoor structure that connects two busy streets in the Vedado district of Havana, nicely complementing the theme of the exhibit: “Between, Inside, Outside.” Other artists will set up in different locations of El Pabellon’s expansive atrium, and performances will punctuate the spaces between to inaugurate the exhibit on Saturday, May 23, beginning at 11 am. Stay tuned for more from the Cuban front!

Lorraine Monteagut is a Ph.D. candidate in Communication at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Follow her summer travels: