menu

The Creators Project: Sewable Circuit Boards Create Jobs In Mexico

technology

“Performative intervention” gives residents in Mexican cities the chance to work for $7.50 an hour.

Creators Project
  • 10 june 2014

In Mexico, where the minimum wage averages less than $5 a day, being visited by Amor Muñoz and her giant white bike-trailer is like winning a small lottery. Rolling into the working class barrios in places like Mexico City and Campeche, Muñoz flips its panels and doors, opens up a shelved work station, and hires members of the crowd at an undeniable hourly rate. By the end of the day, once the commissioned work has been done, she packs it all up and moves onto the next destination.

As ephemeral as it seems, it’s actually part of a long-term project called Maquila Region 4 (MA4), which Muñoz started in 2012. Inspired by the operations of Mexican-American border town factories, known as maquilas, this “performative intervention” gives residents in marginalized areas of Mexican cities the chance to work for $7.50 an hour.

The work involved is an extension of Muñoz’s ongoing fascination with blending electronic and artisanal technologies. If you’re lucky enough to get contracted by a visiting MA4 unit (you literally have to sign a contract), you’re then assigned to a unique project: sewing conductive thread into cloth, to create fully functioning, textile-based circuit panels.

mexico-circuit-board-sewing2

The socioeconomic disparities probed by this project makes it one of the nascent decade’s finest examples of art-for-social change. And it’s only one in a line of Muñoz’s experiments that aim to shatter the class-oriented divide between traditional Mexican crafts like embroidering and sewing, and costly electronic technologies.

How functional can an electronic textile actually be? Pretty functional, it turns out. Take a look at Esquemáticos (2011), one of Muñoz’s projects that prefaced MA4. It’s a series of 5 different sound-generating electronic textiles, each of which were hand sewn based off Munoz’s schematic drawings (hence the name).

mexico-circuit-board-sewing1

One piece, for example, emits the sound of a siren and radiates with patches of color when you take a drink of alcohol and blow into its attached breathalyzer. Another oscillates a high-pitched radio frequency while you draw on a piece of paper that’s rigged up to its circuits. See both, along with another three cloth devices, in the video below:

These works and others will be featured at the Digital Latin America exhibition in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s 516 Arts space until August 30th. Alongside selections from Muñoz’s portfolio, you’ll find works by 15 other Latin American digital artists from disparate parts of the Americas— Chile, Mexico, and even Kansas. Viewed through a new media lens, each project is imbued with an exploration of 21st century Latino society and identity.

Keep updated with Muñoz over at her website. There, she’s already been posting snippets of information about her next project. The details aren’t fully out yet, but it’s looking like it’ll continue along the same path as the projects mentioned above. Photovoltaic panels appear sewn into fabrics, essentially creating super portable generators. If you’ve got sunlight and access to lighting infrastructure— yet can’t afford monthly electricity bills (or are simply in a village that’s off the grid)— this could present a means to self-sustainability. It’s called Yuca-Tech, and it has its own blog here.

If it’s as effective in its power generation as it is at being socially aware, it’s just another contribution Muñoz has made to bringing modern world to those without access to it.

Originally published on The Creators Project, republished with kind permission. All Photos Courtesy of Amor Munoz.

technology
Trending

How Indiegogo Is Becoming An Adult Product Destination

Retail
Home september 23, 2016

Watch This Fire Pit Dance Along To Your Favorite Song

Music City Fire is a system that is designed to flicker in time to ambient music

Automotive september 23, 2016

Slick GPS Navigator Gives Directions To Moped Riders

This small, round device attaches to a sideview mirror to display maps for safer traveling

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Home september 23, 2016

A Clock That Beautifully Manages Your Information Overload

The wall-mounted timekeeper is made to help people maintain focus and stay up to date with their appointments

Arts & Culture september 23, 2016

Performance Piece Blends Dancers Into Folds Of Light

The work provides commentary on the increasing connection between programmed and analog dimensions

Related Expert

DeRay McKesson

Social Media, Social Justice, Community

Design & Architecture september 23, 2016

Design Firm Adapts Childhood Homes For Unemployed Young Adults

The studio has unveiled three prototypes of transformed living spaces for people forced to move back in with their families

Health september 23, 2016

These Chocolate Squares Claim To Reverse The Aging Process

A group of researchers from Cambridge University have developed a candy bar that promises to give you a youthful glow

Cities september 23, 2016

Food-Producing Architecture Competition Seeks To Better Feed Cities

A design challenge in Copenhagen highlights the need and beauty of urban farming

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed september 21, 2016

Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned Teaching 7th Grade Math

Bree Groff, Managing Director at NOBL NYC, shares her secrets for knowing your employees and enabling a team

PSFK Labs september 22, 2016

The Future Of Work: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

PSFK Labs sits down with management at Johnson & Johnson to learn how the company comes up with their next ‘big idea’

Health september 23, 2016

Wearable Monitors Sun Exposure To Prevent Sunburn

The clip monitors UV rays to make sure you're not receiving too much sunlight

Op-Ed september 23, 2016

Productivity Expert: The Magic Of The Five-Hour Workday

Stephan Aarstol, Founder of Tower Paddle Boards, explains why the modern notion of office hours needs to evolve

Culture september 23, 2016

This Exhibition’s Crowning Jewel Is An 18k Gold-Plated Toilet

The piece, titled 'America,' is meant to raise questions about the country's wealth inequality

Culture september 23, 2016

Match Up With Dates On Tinder Based On Your Music Preferences

A new partnership with Spotify lets people pair up based on shared tastes in artists

Entertainment september 23, 2016

Capture, Cut Up, And Configure Your World In 360 Degrees

To meet a booming 360 and VR video-capturing industry, a multimedia software company bolstered its media editing suite for 360-video creation

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Advertising september 23, 2016

These Trucks Drove Around In Circles For 24 Hours To Keep Time

The giant ticking clock was created by 14 Scania vehicles in a deserted airfield

Advertising september 23, 2016

Buy Movie Tickets Directly From Your Facebook Profile

The new feature is part of a campaign from Fandango to further imbed social media into the ticket vendor's digital presence

Asia september 23, 2016

Co-Working Space Brings The Calming Atmosphere Of Nature Indoors

An architectural firm in China has designed a new type of shared office that prioritizes the natural environment

No search results found.