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Friday, May 13 • 11:15am - 11:30am
Taquerías Conversos: Digital Visualization of Latino Immigrant Impact on Arizona Cityscapes

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This presentation uses dynamic digital visualization to provoke unexpected humanist insight into the vibrant impact of immigrants on Arizona cityscapes. Specifically, it tracks a peculiar form of the architectural uncanny that haunts everyday urbanism in metro Phoenix: taquerías. 20 years of intensive immigration brought drive-thru Mexican taquerias, serving cheap, fast, flavorful food. Many inhabit structures abandoned by iconic American fast-food chains (DQ, BK, KFC…), colonizing dead spaces made moribund by sprawl’s centrifugal pull. Taquerias revived stagnant neighborhood economies, catering to an immigrant-inflected palate, and added Latin cultural flair to the city’s subdued design palette. Despite Mexicanized makeovers, even the casual flâneur subliminally registers the iconic architecture haunting the taquerias; ad campaigns trained Americans to recognize instantly their distinctive corporate branding. The project uses 6-second Vine micro-movie loops to reenact this “conversion” from hallmark fast food chain to taqueria, performatively disclosing the homely architectural form “buried alive” beneath exuberant magical-realist redesign. In an era that would sooner squelch especially Mexican immigrant visibility at every turn, metro Phoenix holds immigrants in abundance. But city residents are reluctant to acknowledge—and cultivate—creative ways that migrants already make their imprint. This project invites appreciation for how taquerias conversos recast conventional modes of envisioning the city. The taquerias’ vibrant magical-realist decor conjures prosthetic links to the city’s (Mexican) past and inscribes border-crossing transnationalization into local city spaces. Some relish these changes, others, not so much; for many Phoenicians the bewildering repetition-compulsion of the taquerias conversos evokes an unsettling psychical-spatial estrangement as the city around them hauntingly becomes unfamiliar. For the taquerias' insurgent urbanism swerves beyond city boosters’ defensive vision of sundrenched uniformity toward embracing a complex transnationalized urban future. The video loops take a fresh look at everyday urbanism by making strange the taquerias’ mundane but ubiquitous urban form and artfully aims to lightheartedly provoke in viewers a deeper, humanist comprehension of culinary/cultural challenges posed by the city’s diasporic remaking by Latino immigrants. Sample: https://vine.co/v/MbOztBTWu5j


Friday May 13, 2016 11:15am - 11:30am MST
COOR L1-18 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  Culture and Ethics, Long Paper
  • Session Location COOR L1-18