This is a digital animation. The trunk and a branch of a 3D-modeled mesquite tree appear in the foreground on the left side of the image. The branch extends horizontally to the right side of the image. A grassy hillside and a lake can be seen in the distance behind the tree. Three hundred monarch butterflies that were perched on the trunk and branch have just taken flight and are scattered in the air.


MediumDigital video game comprising Unity3D executable file listening for OpenTSPS interpretation of a surveillance camera signal. Housed on a Mac mini (late 2014) running Mac OS 10.11.6, El Capitan. The surveillance camera is an ELP 180° FOV USB cam in a custom 3D-printed housing.
CreditCopyright SWEAT

Migraciones is an interactive display created by SWEAT (South West Ensemble for Art & Technology), a collaboration between Rafael Fajardo, Esteban Fajardo, and Chris GauthierDickey. The work offers a poetic meditation on migration and the environment. Conceived as a game, the installation establishes a playful dialogue with gallery visitors who affect the system through their presence. When people are absent from the space in front of the screen, animated monarch butterflies alight on the bough of a mesquite tree. As a person approaches the screen, the butterflies respond by flying away and do not return until the space is empty again.

Set in a Texas landscape in a time prior to human habitation of the land, Migraciones not only illustrates the impact of humans on the ecosystems in which we live, but also serves as a potent metaphor for human migration. Monarch butterflies, which migrate north from Mexico to sites in the United States and Canada, have dwindled in recent decades, with populations declining more than 80% since the 1990s as a result of pesticides, climate change, and development. Beyond the project’s dire ecological implications, Migraciones also includes a political dimension, as the movement of the butterflies corresponds to the movement of people from South and Central America to the United States. While one migration is generally celebrated, the other has been met with fervent resistance and weaponized for political gain.