Pasatiempo

Local artists project local history

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Imagine visiting Santa Fe’s monuments, tourist sites, and hidden historic locations by clicking icons on a digital map. City historian Valerie Rangel made that possible when she lassoed geographic informatio­n system technology to create a series of deeply researched and documented websites, each revealing a layer of Santa Fe’s history.

But Rangel and the city Arts and Culture Department weren’t finished. They wanted to show our story through a more personal lens as well. Working with Refract Studio of Santa Fe beginning in 2022, they chose a handful of local artists to create video projects combining historical reflection on a place or icon with personal interpreta­tion. The dealmaker? Each project would include augmented reality.

The result is Ojos Diferentes, No. 6 in the series of Santa Fe websites based on Storymap technology. Here you’ll find out-of-this-world videos featuring teepee-shaped rockets with laser beams, ghosts lurking on the Plaza, helmeted “Watchmen” protecting Pueblo lands, and dancers made of light. The site now includes eight projects, with plans for two more.

The projects express a range of emotions, from humor to anger to tenderness. “Each artist had free rein to create their own interpreta­tion,” says Chelsey Johnson, director of the city Arts and Culture Department. “It’s the full spectrum of human experience and emotion.”

In his project, “A River Through Time,” multimedia artist Ehren Kee Natay used science fiction and time travel to create a film noir-style scenario in which Indigenous people have made exponentia­l technical advances and now have the power to overthrow society.

The Plaza ghosts are imagined by Chicana artist and poet Artemisio Romero Y Carver in a reflection inspired by a bronze plaque near Palace and Washington downtown honoring the Santa Fe trail drivers. In a voiceover, she says the apparition­s are ghosts of settlers reduced to “cattle-hungry animals.”

The other six projects on the Ojos Diferentes site are:

Jemez Pueblo sculptor Cliff Fragua compares Pueblo Revolt leader Po’peh to St. Francis in a project that includes music by The Cloud Eagle Singers, also from Jemez Pueblo.

Multimedia artist PAZ (also known as Mapitzmitl) and his daughter, dancer Crystál Xochitl Zamora of Albuquerqu­e, imagine dancers made of energy and light at Louis Montaño Park, part of the Barrio de Analco Historic District. Pottery artist Virgil Ortiz of Cochiti Pueblo creates scary looking “Recon Watchmen” who, in the year 2180, watch over the past, present, and future of the Pueblo people.

Lady Shug, a Diné activist for LGBTQ rights, gives a guided tour of La Fonda on the Plaza.

Santa Fe poet and artist Natachee Momaday Gray uses the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe to reflect on motherhood.

Taos poet Olivia Romo imagines a worker in a Hazmat suit outside the office where J. Robert Oppenheime­r and his team launched the Manhattan Project. The city provided $50,000 in March 2022 to offer the artists small stipends and to pay Refract Studio to work with them on the AI component. In some cases, the artists were already familiar with the technology and did most of the work themselves. Others acted more as creative directors, describing their vision and letting Refract make it happen, says Lauren Cason, the studio’s creative director and co-founder.

“We didn’t want to ask them to learn a new technology if they didn’t want to,” Cason says.

The Ojos Diferentes site went live last December and, a year later, has already garnered internatio­nal attention. It was a finalist in the augmented reality category for a Webbie Award, billed as the leading internatio­nal award honoring excellence on the Internet. Competitor­s in the category included such giants as Meta, Google, and Snapchat. More recently, Snapchat gave Ojos Diferentes its Moonshot Award, which goes to a project that showed innovative use of the instant messaging app. “This project is really punching above its weight,” Cason says.

Although she came on board in September, after the project was complete, Johnson is an enthusiast­ic supporter of Ojos Diferentes, comparing it to Pokémon GO, a smartphone game that uses GPS technology and augmented reality to catch and train Pokémon characters.

“You’re in your everyday reality, then you lift your phone and it becomes a lens and this 3D moving, talking figure emerges,” she says. “A story is not simply text or a flat image but something that appears in front of you and inspires feelings of wonder. It’s fantastica­l and super real at the same time.” — Judy Robinson/for The New Mexican

Access Ojos Diferentes and Santa Fe’s six other websites based on geomapping at:

Ojos Diferentes — ojosdifere­ntes.com

Perspectiv­es on Water: A Storymap on the topic of water — sfnm.co/water No Me Olvides: A People’s History — sfnm.co/nomeolvide­s

Layers of Santa Fe: Visualize the city through geographic layers of time, space, history — sfnm.co/layers

Teacher’s Guide: Lesson plans and resources for K-12 teachers — sfnm.co /Teachersgu­ide

Sombras de Oscuridad: Santa Fe’s Mysteries, Legends and Lore — sfnm .co/sombrasdeo­scuridad

City of Faith: A People’s History of the City of Santa Fe — sfnm.co /Cityoffait­h

 ?? ?? An imagined ghost looms over downtown Santa Fe in this image from a video project by artist and poet Artemisio Romero Y Carver for the city’s Ojos Diferentes project. Jemez Pueblo sculptor Cliff Fragua built his Ojos Diferentes project around his own statue of Pueblo Revolt leader Po’peh.
An imagined ghost looms over downtown Santa Fe in this image from a video project by artist and poet Artemisio Romero Y Carver for the city’s Ojos Diferentes project. Jemez Pueblo sculptor Cliff Fragua built his Ojos Diferentes project around his own statue of Pueblo Revolt leader Po’peh.
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