Tags : programming, metaverse, webvr, vr, code, coding, sciart, aframe, english, open-source, distributed, p2p, decentraland, decentralized

The Metaverse is a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet. The word metaverse is a portmanteau of the prefix "meta" (meaning "beyond") and "universe" and is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.

The term was coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where humans, as avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional space that uses the metaphor of the real world. Stephenson used the term to describe a virtual reality-based successor to the Internet

Extracted from Wikipedia

Towards a Virtual Reality

During the last year we have been exploring how the SciArt Lab could contribute to the emergence of the distributed metaverse. We had the chance of testing new virtual reality open-source technologies and develop several WebVR components with a triple goal:

  • Create our own immersive experiments in virtual reality for phenomenological and artistic explorations.

  • Contribute to the upcoming 3D Web, sharing content and open-source components with the idea of a future distributed metaverse in mind (built on the top of a-frame + ipfs).

  • Build the facilities of the SciArt Lab in a virtual space, in order to have a place always accessible, independently of our location in the physical world.

Some of those experiments have been already released in social media. However, it may be useful to summarize at least some of our last achievements in a blog post.

The potential of WebVR is amazing. It leads to new opportunities for developers and content creators, fixing the problem of interoperability between three-dimensional environments by bringing the community together around web standards (compatible with any virtual reality hardware and accessible from any web browser).

Regarding the role of "decentralization" in the co-production of a metaverse, we should mention that the decentralized web is becoming achievable in the short term. If we take into account the evolution of protocols and technologies for distributed consensus or data storage, we can not deny that the dream of a distributed (completely decentralized) virtual reality is easier than ever before.

The use of new peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols such as IPFS, in conjunction with the Ethereum network or other blockchain-based systems, would make the creation of alternative societies, distributed and transnational, a plausible possibility. As I have been defending in the last decade, P2P technologies are empowering tools which may reshape our societies, and the keystone to implement a cyberspace able to guarantee open innovation and knowledge production. If we combine the potential of peer-to-peer with the immersive experience that virtual reality can provide, we may obtain a mindblowing outcome: a world-wide distibuted metaverse.

SciArt Lab Metaverse Components

The following video displays part of the capabilities of our initial experiments in terms of immersive graphics and interaction with gaze controlled events and teleporting.

Additionally, we have been exploring new possibilities for music creation in a 3D virtual world, along with other projects related with music and technology.

So far, our experiments combining music + VR are straightforward a-frame components which may evolve within the context of more specific projects.

The following tweets are some examples of the prototypes we have been developing lately. The code will be updated in Github (in my repo or the one of the SciArt Lab).

From the SciArt Lab Metaverse components to Decentraland

After some of the SciArt Lab Metaverse components were published in Github and Twitter, we were mentioned a couple of times in the Week of A-Frame series (supported by Mozilla).

Some weeks later, we were contacted by the team of Decentraland offering support for our project. That was a really exciting new, a really good chance for the near future of the SciArt Lab.

Decentraland is one of the most promising projects of the new blockchain-based startup ecosystem. They raised $24 million during their ICO. Forbes wrote an article about them recently, remarking how new economies may emerge very soon in virtual worlds.

Decentraland combines the possibilities of open standards, WebVR and decentralized technologies within a conceptual and economic framework: shared ownership of the platform.

Here there is an introduction from their website:

Decentraland is a virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Users can create, experience, and monetize content and applications.

Decentraland is the first virtual platform owned by its users. Grab a VR headset or use your web browser and become completely immersed in a 3D, interactive world. There are plenty of opportunities to explore or even create your own piece of the universe. Here, you can purchase land through the Ethereum blockchain, creating an immutable record of ownership. No one can limit what you build.

With full control over your land, you can create unique experiences unlike anything in existence. Your imagination is the limit: go to a casino, watch live music, attend a workshop, shop with friends, start a business, test drive a car, visit an underwater resort, and much, much more—all within a 360-degree, virtual world.

And this is a promotional video of the project:

After talking with them, we agreed to collaborate and build during 2018 the SciArt Lab Metaverse Branch as a district in Decentraland. They will provide the resources that we need to make this happen, so this opens a new period for the lab, in which patronage and partnerships will make our projects more sustainable.

We have recently initiated a partnership with Magg Architecture for the construction of our facility in the metaverse. More information about the evolution of the project will be published soon.


Tags : programming, midi, music, code, coding, sciart, guitar, alda-tabs, english, open-source, software, ableton

One of the main goals of the SciArt Lab is the open exploration of innovative ideas from a maker/hacker perspective, finding innovation through prototyping rather than relying on mere theoretical approaches. In that sense, we try to combine disruptive technologies and scientific knowledge with unconventional developments and real implementations/prototypes of our ideas. If you want to know more about the research of the SciArt Lab check our website.

What is this article about?

This article is an introduction to some of the projects which have been developed by the SciArt Lab around topics related with digital musical creation.

In this post I will summarize part of my hands-on experience based on the intersection of DIY electronics, MIDI controllers, and the development of new tools (coded in Java, Groovy, Processing, Javascript) in combination with existing software such as Ableton Live.

This is an on-going exploration, so follow us on Twitter and keep updated in the near future.

Music and digital creation

I can summarize the current projects of the SciArt Lab as a set of fun experiments.

Basically, we are hacking music with both sound synthesis, MIDI experiments, DIY electronics and algorithmic composition, combining experimental music with brand new technologies. Discovering how coding and music can be combined by prototyping domain-specific languages, enabling self-composed songs with genetic algorithms or re-discovering MIDI controllers to create audio art.

A. Genetic algorithms, mathematical compositions and generative music

We are exploring the potential of applying Artificial Intelligence techniques and software development to create programs which are able to write and play their own music.

Take a look of our first experiments, watching our videos of cellular automata with emergent properties for music composition.

Each cellular automaton is able to compose its own music based on simple rules, evolving while it plays synthetic instruments in Ableton Live or external devices through MIDI events.

B. Domain Specific Languages

Alda-tabs is the first Domain Specific Language for Guitar Players in the Java Virtual Machine. This piece of software can help guitar players to “execute” their music notes in the JVM, write songs and get audio feedback with basic tab syntax. You can read more about this in this article.

Take a look of the potential of Alda-tabs with chords and arpeggios listening this example (code also provided):

./alda-tabs.sh examples/01-guitartabs-example.alda

C. Digital instruments and physical interfaces

A couple of years ago, when I was working as Visiting Researcher at the Critical Making Lab (University of Toronto), I discovered how a humanistic-based approach to DIY electronics, coding and making could change forever my conception on research. That experience helped me to see the importance of hands-on learning and the role that tangible objects could have for theoretical or intellectual explorations.

Currently I am working on a prototype of a physical MIDI interface to control digital instruments directly from a guitar fret. This same concept will be explored with different objects and materials (conductive or not) in the following months.

The idea is to go beyond the keyboard as the standard digital music interface and build physical MIDI controllers with wood, cardboard, fabric, etc. More details about this project will be published soon.

In the meantime, I have been also testing some libraries of Javascript for sound synthesis, and playing around with p5.js to develop the foundations of SoundBox, an experimental digital environment for synthetic music creation. Basically, the idea with this tool is to transform a human voice or an instrument (through a microphone) in a MIDI interface. Right now, it basically detects the fundamental frequency of the microphone’s sound signal, allowing the user to transform a continuous signal in a set of discrete notes. It also parses that information and reproduces the played sequence in Sin Oscillator.

It is a very straightforward prototype with troubles with some harmonics, but it has been a good experiment to learn about how these issues work. Let’s see, but maybe SoundBox is the starting point for something more sophisticated.


D. Music Visualization

One of the research interests of the SciArt Lab is information visualization in unusual ways. I always was fascinated about synesthesia and lately I have been testing visual approaches to music. The idea with some of the prototypes I have been working in is to map MIDI inputs both with physical visualizations (i.a. LEDs) and computational ones.

In this second category, I have been testing the possibility of creating my own 2D graphics with Processing and SVG and animate them while controling their movements and shapes directly from external MIDI inputs. This is one example of one program/animation that I have implemented recently:

In the previous example, an animation is created dynamically in Processing while the behavior of an animated cartoon responds to the inputs received from an external DIY electronics device. Both the graphics and the sound are produced by the orders received through MIDI inputs.

E. Postsynaptic Symphonies

I have always liked music. I started writing songs with a keyboard as a kid and continued with a guitar when I was a teenager. Nowadays, I enjoy playing several kinds of instruments. Besides the keyboard, my acoustic guitar and my wife’s classical guitar, I have two harmonicas, some flutes, an ocarina, an ukulele and a guitalele.

Recently, as part of the open-ended exploration of the SciArt Lab, I have been writing also some digital music. I call them postynaptic symphonies because I found interesting the cognitive experience of listening that sort of unpredictable songs.

I have published some postynaptic symphonies in SoundCloud:

More information about the evolution of my music-related projects will be coming soon :)

Tags : english, open-source, music, code, jvm, sciart, guitar, alda-tabs, software

This post explains how to easily compose music with alda-tabs, a Domain Specific Language for Guitar Players which runs in the JVM. I have developed alda-tabs as an open source project so you can download it for free in GitHub.

What is alda-tabs?

  • It is a Domain Specific Language for guitar players.

  • It is a piece of software to help guitar players to "execute" their music notes in the JVM, compose songs and get audio feedback.

  • It is an extensible tool for music programming mainly oriented to guitar players.

  • It is built on the top of Alda, a DSL for music composition in the JVM, so it is compatible with both Alda and Clojure.

Why is so easy to code guitar songs with alda-tabs?

  • It does not require programming skills.

  • It does not require traditional music notation.

  • It is as straightforward as writing simple guitar sketches in a notebook.

  • You only have to copy your tabs from the paper to a text editor and execute alda-tabs.

alda tabs

How can I create complex digital music with alda-tabs?

  • With alda-tabs you can execute any .alda file, so you can write your songs/programs in both Clojure, Alda and alda-tabs in the same block of text.

  • It talks to the JVM, so any experimented programmer can do impossible things :-)

  • It is just a layer on the top of Alda, so if you know music theory, then you can write complex songs using music notation.

How is the alda-tabs syntax?

Remember that with alda-tabs you can always use the standard Alda syntax and Clojure code. You can learn more about both languages later to explore the whole potential of alda-tabs. But don’t worry, you don’t need to know more yet. Just follow this tutorial and enjoy :)

What I am gonna show you here is the easy and super simple alda-tabs syntax:

  • The tab notation

  • The chord notation

In 10 minutes you will be able to write songs in a text editor and listen the result in your speakers.

Tab notation

Imagine that you want to play all the strings of the guitar, one after another:


This example is a regular guitar tab in which all the strings are played sequentially with one hand and in which there are not fingers of the other hand pressing the fret.

So the fret number would be 0 in the six positions of the sequence.

How would we write this in Alda syntax?

Don’t worry, I will explain how to do it in alda-tabs syntax bellow (see How to do it in alda-tabs?) but it is important to read this before to compare alda-tabs with Alda.

In Alda syntax we would need to know the note equivalents of each position. And in addition:

  • We would write the octave and the note, one after another:

guitar: o4 e o3 b o3 g o3 d o2 a o2 e
  • Another way would be to write the initial octave increasing/decreasing it when needed:

guitar: o4 e/>b/g/d/<<a/e

How to do it in alda-tabs?

Remember that alda-tabs is based in the simple concept of a tab. Basically, the notes of a guitar can be defined by numeric combinations, a number to identify the string (from the first at the bottom to the sixth at the top) and a fret.

To write a note in alda-tabs you only have to write ta followed by the string number and the fret number.

With alda-tabs we can write the same sequence that we have previously expressed in Alda. But this time we don’t need to know which note we are playing, we only need to write the tab, the position of our finger considering the string and the fret:

 guitar: ta10 ta20 ta30 ta40 ta50 ta60

In this example, we are asking the JMV to play a guitar with the open strings 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, one after another. That is, ta10 equals string 1 and fret 0 and so on.

Take a look now of the fretboard:

notes fret

If you want to play the first note C, according to the graphic displayed above, you don’t need to know the octave, you just will pick the string 2 in the fret 1: ta + 2 + 1.

guitar: ta21

You can also modify the duration of a note adding a character at the end. For example:

guitar: ta21 ta21W ta21Q ta21D ta21H

What does it mean? If you don’t specify a duration, this will be whole beat (W). You can also play the note during half beat (H), double (D) and quarter (Q). Those note durations will be proportional to the tempo of the score. For example, the following two sentences are not the same:

(tempo 100)
guitar: ta21 ta21W ta21Q ta21D ta21H
(tempo 300)
guitar: ta21 ta21W ta21Q ta21D ta21H

Play with these combinations to see the difference. For more complex timing, check the advanced tips bellow.

Chord notation

Imagine that rather than a sequence of notes you want to play a chord. A basic example would be playing all the open strings at the same time:


You can do this in three ways:

  • In Alda syntax, using the character / to play the notes at the same time:

guitar: o4 e/>b/g/d/<<a/e
  • In alta-tabs syntax, using the tab notation with different voices:

guitar: V1: ta10 V2: ta20 V3: ta30 V4: ta40 V5: ta50 V6: ta60
  • In alta-tabs syntax, but using the chord notation:

guitar: (c 0 0 0 0 0 0 W)

As you can see, the chord notation is just a Clojure function c with seven parameters, the fret of each one of the six strings and the duration of the chord.

For example, the D chord would be

(c 2 3 2 0 x x W)


You can also use the chord notation to play single notes. For example, the two following sequences are exactly the same:

# alta-tab syntax

ta10 ta20 ta30 ta40 ta50 ta60

# alda-tab chord syntax

(c 0 x x x x x W)
(c x 0 x x x x W)
(c x x 0 x x x W)
(c x x x 0 x x W)
(c x x x x 0 x W)
(c x x x x x 0 W)

Advanced tips

You can play tabs with specific durations, in seconds or milliseconds by using the function t. In this case you should write the number of the string, followed by a dot and the fret. Add the end, you should express in String format ("") the duration you want.

guitar: (t 1.0 "2s") (t 2.0 "10ms") (t 2.2 "100ms")

You can do the same with your chords:

guitar: (c 0 x 1 2 2 x "5s")

How can I install alta-tabs?

  • Follow the steps to install Alda.

  • Clone this repo and open the folder alda-tabs in your terminal.

  • Run the Alda server with alda up.

  • Create a simple text file, write your song using the alda-tabs syntax and save it.

  • Execute ./alda-tabs.sh followed by the path of the file you want to play.

  • Listen the result.

  • If you want to stop a song you can stop the alda server with alda down.

You can also play some scores (provided in the /examples folder) and modify their content to explore different sounds.


In this document you can both read the code and listen the output of its execution in alda-tabs. However, the provided audio file is non-stereo. The original output of alda-tabs, however, includes panning. So explore the real result executing the code/song in your own instance of alda-tabs.

Example 1: Chords and arpeggios

You can start exploring the potential of alda-tabs with chords and arpeggios with the example #01:

./alda-tabs.sh examples/01-guitartabs-example.alda

Example 2: The sound of Pi

Try to compose mathematical songs extending Alda and alda-tabs with Clojure. See the example #02:

./alda-tabs.sh examples/02-pi.alda

Example 3: Complex songs

You can also see how beautiful songs with multiple instruments can be written with Alda with the example #03:

./alda-tabs.sh examples/03-hope-for-future-ext.alda

Tags : english, ethnography, multiculturalism, data-visualization, diversity

This article was originally published in the Rhizome Ethnographies site. I have republished it here as an introduction for those who don’t know the project yet.

After several years exploring, from a computational perspective, the evolution of social complexity in heterogeneous and decentralized agent-based models [1] [2], I have decided to start a new stage of research. With this side project, I would like to study the evolution of identity/identities in real social agents. Specifically exploring heterogeneous societies through the observation of their ethnic, linguistic and cultural contexts, and using visual ethnography to learn about transnational identities and multiculturalism.

So let’s say that I am moving from the fields of Computer Science and Information Science to a new multidisciplinary approach closer to the domains of Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. From software simulations of artificial agents to multicultural communities of actual people. From genetic algorithms to GIS analysis, data visualization, maps, sociology and unstructured interviews.


So far, most of my research has been based in quantitative approaches, predominantly in-silico modeling of bacteria colonies and artificial societies [3]. I have been studying the evolution of artificial societies with Artificial Intelligence techniques, with the goal of finding answers to Information Science questions [4]. In fact, most of my former research was oriented, under the umbrella of the Complex Adaptive Systems paradigm (CAS), to understand the role of decentralization and heterogeneity in the emergence of social complexity in innovative scenarios [5] [6]. Regarding the application of my research to Social Sciences, you can tell that most of it was mainly grounded on computational and mathematical models. Fortunately, that lack of actual data can be addressed by radically changing my approach.

During my graduate studies, I coined (and re-coined) a couple of terms (such as “P2P Society” or “P2P Paradigm”) trying to understand the social dynamics of a globalized and plural world. A world with fully decentralized communication networks (see distributed topology [6]) and collaborative communities of heterogeneous peers. I also did some side research on distributed technologies such as different blockchain-based projects to frame the P2P society in that growing ecosystem of emancipatory tools and methods. The Bitmind project [7] was one of those initiatives.

I had the chance to exchange knowledge with several scholars from different fields, trying to do multidisciplinary research. But I was always constrained by the limits of my own field and its methodologies. So even though I will continue publishing and doing research in my own field, I would like to explore in parallel a different experience.

In my thesis and the published papers, posters and communications, I always try to be faithful and accurate, and to keep my research as much constrained as possible in order to offer reliable results according to the scientific method. However, sometimes I feel that to explore social issues properly I need something else, something more than just a quantitative and hypothetical-deductive approach. So I decided that it was the time for a new kind of experience, an open-ended side project, a new kind of both personal and academic approach to reality. Less closed and constrained, less machine-ish and more human-ish.

Although I had a great time observing the evolution of different social dynamics with a computationally-based approach, I realized that I wanted to know more about the human being as a social construct. And I wanted to know it from my own subjective point of view, the point of view of another social construct.

Considering the term ‘agent’ as the most convenient to refer to free individuals endowed with reason and autonomy, I can say that this time I am focused in the observation of the agent itself, a common individual within a physical and social environment. And I am doing it with a completely different toolbox. I want to conduct this research with my own ontological and epistemological constraints, but without the ones imposed by an specific academic field. Understand the inner nature of the social agent, and maybe study again the functional and structural evolution of the social object (the social network of agents). But obviously, with a very different approach. This approach shall be less deterministic, objective, quantitative and pretentious, while focusing on the live experience rather than on the expected results. I will accomplish this by going to the arena and getting immersed rather than implementing a synthetic in-silico arena and observing it through a screen, doing visual ethnography and taking field notes rather than coding simulations and analyzing results. If you are more interested in the other perspective, you can check my peer-reviewed publications and follow my other projects.

One of the first steps to make this change happen is to avoid a hypothetical-deductive mindset and assume a more inductive approach, without preconceived axioms, without a priori hypotheses or pretentious irrefutable truths. In order to do that I have to go beyond my academic background, unlearn and relearn again, and start the new stage without self-constraints. With a methodology (or a set of methodologies) but without a fixed and self-constraining outline.

Computational social modeling requires a reduced amount of variables in isolation and a considerable lack of sociological, anthropological, historical or psychological background. Ethnographical research, however, requires a very different mindset. It may imply critical thinking, personal immersion and opened eyes in the seeking of facts, qualitative data and other kinds of knowledge.

Furthermore, self-conducted research can also be phenomenological. And in addition to that, it may imply a bunch of other things. It can be a rhizome of field notes, secondary data, memories and media resources. It can be a mesh of interconnected experiences.

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Considering this new stage as a chosen path for knowledge crawling, I would consider it both research, game and art. Besides that, naturally, I would also consider this project a way of self-exploration.

What defines the self besides the constraints of national boundaries, ethnicity, race, religion and culture? Are we just a consequence of our context and history? Would it be possible to understand better the complexity of individual and group identities combining photography and film-making as visual ethnography tools with other traditional methods? Could we generalize what we learn from a small sample of people to understand better the notions of ethnicity, race and cultural identity? What can we discover about the object of study with a phenomenological perspective?

This research follows an ethnographical approach and eventually may use some traditional methods, such as participant and direct observation [8] or unstructured interviewing, in order to look for possible answers to the above-mentioned questions. However, it is mainly a visual ethnography and it uses photography and film-making as visual languages. It is also a phenomenological research. It is also a live experience without hypotheses and pre-conceived axioms. It is a happy lack of expectation.

If you want to know more about the project visit the Rhizome Ethnographies website.


[[[1]]] J. R. Hernandez-Carrion and D. González-Rodriguez, “Modelling Complex Dynamics and Distributed Generation of Knowledge with Bacterial-Based Algorithms,” Scientific Publications / University of Economics in Katowice, vol. Economics and Business Communication Challenges : International Week, pp. 138–148, 2014.

[[[2]]] Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Diego and Hernandez-Carrion, Jose Rodolfo, “Decentralization and heterogeneity in complex adaptive systems,” Kybernetes, vol. 44, no. 6/7, pp. 1082–1093, Jun. 2015.

[[[3]]] D. González Rodríguez, “Modelización de Sistemas de Computación Distribuida con Bacterias Sintéticas mediante Autómatas Celulares,” 2014.

[[[4]]] D. Gonzalez-Rodriguez and J. R. Hernandez-Carrion, “Fundamentos teóricos básicos para la defensa de un paradigma P2P cooperativo desde la perspectiva de la producción de conocimiento,” Revista Iberoamericana de Autogestión y Acción Comunal (RIDAA), vol. 0, no. 66, pp. pp. 55–66, 2015.

[[[5]]] D. Gonzalez-Rodriguez and J. R. Hernandez-Carrion, “A Bacterial-Based Algorithm to Simulate Complex Adaptive Systems,” in From Animals to Animats 13, A. P. del Pobil, E. Chinellato, E. Martinez-Martin, J. Hallam, E. Cervera, and A. Morales, Eds. Springer International Publishing, 2014, pp. 250–259.

[[[6]]] D. Gonzalez-Rodriguez and V. Kostakis, “Information literacy and peer-to-peer infrastructures: An autopoietic perspective,” Telematics and Informatics, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 586–593, Nov. 2015.

[[[7]]] Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Diego and Shapiro, Ishan, “Scalable cognition through collaborative sense-making: drafting the Open Value Network model,” presented at the Workshop on Synthetic Cognitive Development and Integrated-Distributed Agency (IDA). The Eighth Conference on Artificial General Intelligence, Berlin, 2015.

[[[8]]] B. B. Kawulich, “Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method,” Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 6, no. 2, May 2005.

Tags : spanish, postmodern, decentralization, diversity, multiculturalism

Examen de conciencia: del filo-marxismo a la filosofía postmoderna

Recuerdo aquellos años de instituto en los que me alimentaba a base de canciones protesta. Enamorado de aquel discurso filo-marxista para adolescentes, me empapé de literatura y música combativa durante años, repitiendo hasta la saciedad aquellos eslóganes que (creía yo) me avalaban como intelectual y joven socialmente comprometido.

Abrazado a una amalgama de ideas casi contradictorias, con base de ska y punk, fudamenté mi discurso ideológico en el desprecio al imperialismo norteamericano y una denuncia constante de las desigualdades sociales edificadas sobre el capitalismo.

Con el tiempo me daría cuenta que muchos de aquellos supuestos axiomas eran parte de un meta-relato alimentado por viejos poderes, pero que de algún modo habían quedado congelados en la España post-franquista, un nostálgico backup de proyectos que prometían hacer justicia y retomar los experimentos ideológicos que habían sido frustrados por el fascismo en los años treinta.

Aquella especie de nunca lo conseguimos por la llegada del franquismo hizo que muchos jóvenes aún nos creyéramos viejos discursos que en otras partes del mundo habían quedado sepultados con el fin de la Guerra Fría.

Gran parte del paquete de principios ideológicos de todo adolescente progre era, por supuesto, un anti-americanismo visceral que rozaba el fundamentalismo. Una especie de dicotomía moral en la que los yankees eran los malos y las naciones que los eurocentristas denominaban la periferia, el tercer mundo o países en vías de desarrollo eran las víctimas de un sistema desigual fundamentado en relaciones de fuerza militar y poder económico.

Lo cierto es que seguí leyendo y explorando, buscando mi propio camino e intentando contextualizar las causas y las consecuencias de aquellos discursos.

Al tiempo quedé fascinando por ese paradigma que llamábamos postmodernidad y que nos ofrecía la muerte de todos los grandes relatos; no sólo de las grandes religiones, que en teoría habían sido derribadas por la Razón Ilustrada siglos atrás, sino también de las grandes ideologías que habían atemorizado al planeta durante el siglo XX, incluyendo el comunismo.

Así que la postmodernidad me empujó a vivir relativizando las verdades, y a reubicar mis panfletos e idearios en el cajón de la pseudociencia y los textos sagrados. Pero lo cierto es que de aquellos años cargados de idelogía y fascinación quedó un poso positivo, un poso de simpatía hacia los que llevaban la contraria a los grandes poderes y luchaban por lo que creían justo. Algo que lejos de ser una defensa filosófica de la sublevación a lo Foucault derivaría más bien en una capacidad de empatizar con las causas ajenas aún sin sentirlas del todo como propias. En respetar más al otro e intentar entender su perspectiva y sus razones para luchar por una u otra causa.

De aquel entonces quedaron además ciertos valores de esos que van más allá de las doctrinas, aunque en esencia no dejen de ser principios adquiridos por un simple primate en un entorno social. Valores como la búsqueda de la felicidad y la convicción de que la fraternidad de los seres humanos, o al menos la convivencia en paz entre los distintos, puede llegar a ser posible. Unos principios kind of naive pero que podrían resumirse en la defensa de la libertad y la igualdad de los individuos dentro de comunidades heterogéneas, algo que no creo posible sin mecanismos que permitan una descentralización de las relaciones de poder.

Al final, como comentaba, estos valores no son otra cosa que un pedazo software cultural que dinámicamente ha ido adaptándose a nuevos contextos y que a día de hoy no termina de despegarse de mis redes neuronales. Pero en cualquier caso, en esencia, estas ideas definen mi visión actual del mundo tras tres décadas de interacciones con otros agentes sociales.

A mi juicio, dentro de este marco postmoderno en el que la heterogeneidad representa un elemento clave, la deconstrucción de los grandes relatos implica eliminar de estos el apellido universalista. En otras palabras, implica asumir que no existen idearios o proyectos que puedan ser impuestos y tengan validez universal sino que las estrategias de supervivencia son dependientes de contexto, y que por tanto son los individuos y las comunidades las que deben desarrollar los futuros posibles en los que quieran desarrollarse.

De ahí a importancia de la heterogeneidad funcional, de la diversidad estratégica, de la convicción de que cada individuo cuenta con un relato propio y que las sociedades requieren de esa variablidad de estrategias de supervicencia, de aproximaciones a la resolución de problemas, de cajas de herramientas, de sensibilidades, de puntos de vista, para poder ser resilientes y dinámicas.

En ese sentido, el individuo postmoderno debería ser capaz de cambiar de contexto y adaptarse a los distintos relatos, aunque estos a veces tengan una naturaleza antagónica. Así que curiosamente, desde hace tiempo, he empezado a ver en la incoherencia y el relativismo absoluto una especie de virtud.

De acuerdo con esto, podría decir que me considero un individuo que profesa la fe del no-relato, un nodo libre que disfruta cambiando de red, cambiando de sociedad, cambiando de contexto. Y en la misma línea, puedo decir que en los últimos años he participado en causas de distinta naturaleza ideológica, atendiendo a necesidades distintas con contextos distintos.

En España me he posicionado abiertamente a favor de la defensa del laicismo y la libertad de conciencia, mientras que en otros contextos como en Senegal he visto en primera persona cómo, a persar de que el pensamiento mágico es el lastre del mundo pre-moderno, la religión es casi el único pegamento posible para ofrecer una comunidad social e identitaria y sustituir a un Estado del Bienestar ausente. Y es que Europa y África tienen necesidades distintas, y dentro de cada continente las tiene cada nación, cada comunidad étnica, linguística o religiosa, cada pueblo o cada aldea.

Los discursos tienen su público y su sentido, tienen su contexto. Al final constituyen estrategias de supervivencia, genomas distribuidos dentro del biofilm de cada sociedad.

Y por ello no son ni universales ni permanentes, sino que son de usar y tirar. Y muchas veces hay que usarlos antes de poder superarlos.

La llamada de la etnografía

En 2009 colaboré con el Instituto Politécnico Tomás Katari en Bolivia, trabajando directamente con comunidades indígenas en el altiplano andino, así como con niños trabajadores dentro de lo que se conoce como la población campesina originaria (mayoritariamente población quechua). Un contexto donde el indigenismo y eso que ahora se llama populismo bolivariano tenían una razón de ser. Y es que allí re-descubrí que aquellos eslóganes que en el viejo continente se nos vendían como obsoletos, mutados con un acento indígena, todavía tenían sentido para muchos seres humanos.

En Bolivia comprendí que no había Verdad ni Historia. Sino verdades e historias, contextos y bancos de soluciones posibles. Y aprendí a escuchar a los hombres que habitaban otros mundos tan distintos al mio, seres humanos iguales a mi en dignidad y derechos, pero con sesgos y filtros culturales radicalmente distintos a los míos, lo que hacía posible una cosmovisión distinta, un universo cognitivo que nunca podría experimentar si no era a través de la escucha. Cuando nos reuníamos con los líderes de las comunidades indígenas o los campesinos de Ocurí, cuando compartíamos la papa, la quinoa y las ceremonias de adoración a la Pachamama en lo alto de Los Andes. Cuando observábamos como mujeres que no hablaban ni una sola palabra de español aprendían sus derechos constitucionales en quechua, cuando masticábamos coca disfrutando de su música, su danza y hospitalidad. Allí comprendimos que un espacio ideológico y un discurso incomprensible para nuestra mentalidad europea era posible, y que la defensa de aquel socialismo plurinacional parecía la mejor solución de consenso para uno de los países más pobres de América Latina, con una desigualdad terrible y una crisis identitaria difícil de resolver con los mecanismos habituales.

Escucharles me fascinó. Sentí la llamada de la etnografía.

Una fascinación similar y un ejercicio por la capacidad de escucha experimenté también en África, a donde llegamos portando un supuesto modelo de desarrollo y de donde volvimos avergonzados de la prepotencia intelectual de los países del primer mundo y del falso proteccionismo de ciertas políticas de cooperación internacional. Allí comprendí que había formas de vivir que no precisaban de propiedad privada, ni siquiera de residencia fija, ni de Estado, y donde reinaba la ley no escrita de lo comunitario y el respeto a la diferencia.

Cada cultura, cada individuo, cada pueblo, es una fuente de luz y conocimiento. Cada relato es una consecuencia de su contexto histórico, un componente evolutivo que podríamos llamar meta-biológico (esto es, social) que puede funcionar o fallar, pero que como un gen recesivo forma parte del gran banco de datos y experiencias de nuestra especie en su riqueza y heterogeneidad.

En parte, esto hace que una de mis principales pasiones sea viajar. Viajar de un modo que me permita establecer conversaciones con la gente común y conectar con esos otros universos cognitivos que hacen que me sienta parte de una red más grande e interesante que lo que constituye mi propio nodo egoico.

Perspectivas, contextos e identidades

Se puede decir que intentando viajar mucho he viajado más bien poco si consideramos el tamaño del globo. Pero tengo la ilusión constante de tener una vida por delante en la que pueda perderme en tantos puntos geográficos de este geoide azul como sea posible.

En la actualidad, mi proyecto etnográfico está más bien acotado a Estados Unidos, donde desde hace ya un tiempo estoy canalizando mis inquietudes investigadoras en desarrollar algunos de esos valores que quedaron de poso tras mi adolescencia. No sólo ya hace tiempo que superé ese anti-americanismo adolescente (aunque por supuesto siga sin comulgar con las políticas de los dirigentes estadounidenses), sino que he podido descubrir que precisamente Estados Unidos es uno de los países más fascinantes en materia de multiculturalidad, una especie de mosaico de micro-sociedades que ha ido integrando en su territorio gran parte de las comunidades del planeta.

Así que estoy intentando romper otro relato, y superar ese discurso que se ha convertido en tendencia. Un discurso en el que se tiende a identificar a los pueblos con sus dirigentes, y en el que se oculta la diversidad ideológica e identitaria de los individuos que habitan un territorio bajo una especie de prejuicio homogeneizante.

Desde aquí estoy desarrollando varios proyectos. Durante 2016 estuve centrando esfuerzos en desarrollar un estudio rizomático sobre la heterogeneidad identitaria de la sociedad estadonunidense. En este trabajo se combinan aspectos computacionales con labores de etnografía visual. Y aquí entran tanto herramientas de visualización de datos como métodos habituales de investigación cualitativa.

Pero fundamentalmente he estado disfrutando del proceso. Limitándome a observar y escuchar lo que la red (los distintos individuos de esta sociedad heterogénea) puede aportar al nodo (el observador).

Parte de este proyecto enlaza con mi afición a la fotografía, por lo que estoy llevando a cabo un proyecto académico y visual. De modo que como si fuera un ladrón estético, a través de mi cámara, voy captando la idiosincrasia de este espacio-tiempo y sus pequeños mundos.

De momento, he visitado más de una veintena de estados y numerosas ciudades que reflejan la gran diversidad de esta federación de territorios autónomos y comunidades religiosas, étnicas y lingüísticas.

Uno de los capítulos más interesantes de esta experiencia ha sido una reciente visita a Puerto Rico. Sin duda, un país fascinante que fue vomitado por un imperio para de ser fagocitado por otro a finales del siglo XIX y que hoy cuenta con el título distintivo de Estado Libre Asociado.

Visitar Puerto Rico ha sido como volver a Latinoamérica sin dejar Estados Unidos. Una sensación maravillosa, como si hubiera podido visitar el punto donde la fusión de estos dos mundos es de algún modo posible, siendo éste al mismo tiempo un representante vivo de la confrontación de dos realidades casi antagónicas.

Como decía antes, cuando era adolescente era un fiel seguidor del discurso anti-americano, algo así como un enemigo visceral del imperialismo homogeneizante que representaba la primera potencia mundial del momento, oculta detrás de tiranos como Batista, Videla o Pinochet en contraposición a héroes como Salvador Allende, tumbados por el poder en la sombra.

Crecí mirando hacia Latinoamérica con una mezcla de fascinación y nostalgia. Por aquel tiempo de gestación ideológica podía pasarme horas escuchando a Victor Jara, o abrazado a mi guitarra tocando canciones de Mercedes Sosa y Silvio Rodriguez.

Me gustaba leer a Benedetti y consumir cine del otro lado del charco, intentando entender las luchas de aquellos pueblos hermanos que aún peleaban por causas nobles.

Sin conocer aún muy bien los pecados de la izquierda, silenciados por ese manto de idealismo que daba saltos contradictorios entre el materialismo dialéctico y el anarquismo, sentía una suerte de fascinación estética por esos otros mundos posibles que brindaban guerrilleros e intelectuales de férrea militancia.

Tiempo después tendría buenos amigos cuyas familias habían sufrido el horror del comunismo. Tendría contacto con individuos y comunidades originarias de Rusia y Vietnam. Sentiría especialmente las duras historias de mis amigos cubanos. La otra cara de la historia: la de los represaliados, la de los perseguidos, la de la humillación y la represión por parte de la dictadura castrista.

Por supuesto, más al norte también encontraría mis referentes. En la lucha por los derechos civiles en Estados Unidos estarían Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Rosa Parks o Harvey Milk. Y también llegarían referentes musicales como Bob Dylan o Janis Joplin. Pero en parte faltaba el vínculo de la identidad lingüística y cultural que sí compartía con Latinoamérica.

Así que visitar Puerto Rico ha sido una re-conexión con América Latina muy interesante. Recorrer brevemente parte de la isla y hablar con sus gentes ha sido muy enriquecedor. Y una vez más me ha permitido formar parte de un capítulo de la historia (minúscula), de una de tantas historias y relatos culturales.

Puerto Rico es una nación caribeña con una idiosincrasia que combina lo africano, lo indígena, lo hispano y lo anglo, con una magia sincrética y una fascinante cultura. Se trata de un pueblo complejo, que de algún modo ha disfrutado de una posición privilegiada frente a otros países de la región como consecuencia de la tutela norteamericana, pero que al mismo tiempo preserva el anhelo de la emancipación del yugo del Tio Sam.

Viajar a la vieja isla y conversar con sus habitantes me hizo compartir cierta alegría al presenciar el indulto de Óscar López. Y es que todo ocurrió un día después de haber estado en Plaza de Colón de San Juan, conociendo la causa de la mano de algunos defensores del independentismo puertorriqueño y participando de forma casual en la manifestación que pedía su excarcelación. El último regalo de Barack Obama.

Me alegra haber podido vivir la era Obama y haber podido asistir a una ponencia suya en Greensboro, la misma ciudad donde hace algunos años Chomsky me firmó un libro.

También me alegra haber vivido en primera persona la ilusión de una generación aupando a Bernie Sanders, mientras que los oligarcas del Partido Demócrata escondían la cabeza y regalaban el trono a Donald Trump.

Hemos vivido un cambio de ciclo, otro de esos momentos que se recogerán como Historia y que sin duda afectarán a muchas de las historias que dan sentido al mundo.

Hay quien dice que se acercan días oscuros. Pero de nuevo toca escuchar, escuchar la llamada de la etnografía. Despojarse de relatos y estar abierto a los distintos puntos de vista.

Asumir la no-verdad del individuo postmoderno y disfrutar aprendiendo del distinto, esto es, del igual.

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