[ISEA2013] Paper: Pat Badani – On AL GRANO’s “Crop-Cropping” project and agro-cultural erasures


In an evaluation of the idealized vision of scientific and technological progress, the multi-year AL GRANO project questions the rush by agribusiness to produce genetically modified corn to supply the needs of an expanding industry of processed foods without consideration of the potential chain of unbalances: maize’s biodiversity and its extinction, impoverished lands, water depletion, the demise of small-scale farmers and agro-ecological methods in Mexico, obesity in the USA yet starvation in developing countries.

The artist has lived in Mexico and in the U.S.A. Corn Belt, and through this experience she has come to see the defense of maize as a fundamental reaction to capitalist interests that instigate the protection of Mexican cultural integrity, specifically by indigenous populations who defend native seeds, their lands and their livelihoods.

Nested within the AL GRANO enterprise, the “Crop-Cropping” work transforms into art the current political, social and economic murkiness related to maize seed debates by drawing from Spanish American literature, and using an iconographic language that conjoins new media codes and ancient Maya codes. The title of the piece plays with the words –crop and cropping– used in agriculture as well as in digital art practices.

“Crop-Cropping” is accessed via an Augmented Reality App. Tagged foodstuffs in U.S.A supermarkets are portals to vision-based augmented reality layers of digital content in context with the real-world objects. Additionally, the AR app links to an interactive piece designed for touch-sensitive screens (smart phones and tablets) with a pictographic interface inspired by Maya logograms. Historical and contemporary elements overlap and are digitally dealt with to address a latent erasure. The spotlight is not only on impending extinction of seeds and of ecosystems, but also on processes of erosion, disappearance, revaluation, and densification in the production of historical narratives.

  • Pat Badani, Media-N, Journal of the New Media Caucus, United States