Letter in Support of Ricardo Dominguez and Brett Stalbaum


To whom it may concern,

I write this letter in support of Professors Ricardo Dominguez and Brett Stalbaum, and their collaborators at the Bang.Lab at the University of California, San Diego. The criminalization of the research conducted by Dominguez and Staulbaum can and should be expected by xenophobic and racist outsiders in the San Diego community, but I was appalled to hear that the University of California is not whole-heartedly supporting Professors Dominguez and Stalbaum in the wake of recent hateful and threatening responses to their current work. 

As a logistical tool, one could argue their Transborder Immigrant Tool will be only as effectual as the amount of GPS-enabled cell phones that can be made available in the area. Consider especially their demographic primarily includes human beings that would take the chance to cross miles of desert by foot, risking starvation and death, in order to find a better life. While efforts may be made to help the logistics of this project, this is not a group you would expect to have income to acquire such devices.

I think most importantly their research should be looked at as a humanitarian gesture to bring into light an important problem in this geographic region. The inequality between classes in this area, drawn along racial and political boundaries, has caused a deep resentment on both sides of the border. Professor Dominguez and Stalbaum’s tool, while it takes the form of a functional opportunity to save the lives of other human beings, is as much a cultural product that initiates a very public conversation about an important issue, and suggests at the heart of the problem is the inability for some groups to consider the well-being of others.

It is important the University of California facilitate this conversation and acknowledge the contribution this project makes to the fields of visual arts, human computer interaction, and cultural studies, and support the work of Professors Dominguez and Stalbaum in a time when they need it most.


Owen Mundy
Assistant Professor
Department of Art
Florida State University

Masters of Visual Arts, 2008
University of California, San Diego

Learn more about the issue

As usual, a perspective on past issues related to this problem in the area will help contextualize this one.

Learn about Herbert Marcuse and his problems with San Diego/UCSD in this documentary

Even more related, David Avalos, Elizabeth Cisco, and Louis Hock’s Art Rebate project which garnered all kinds of dissidence from the San Diego community, was intended specifically to bring into the public eye an important and overlooked part of the local economy—that of wages and labor of migrant workers.

UC San Diego professor who studies disobedience gains followers — and investigators, LA Times

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