Help me complete my Master's Project

My name is Regina Bultron Bengoa and I am a Puerto Rican student who moved to New York City from San Juan, Puerto Rico two years ago to pursue a Master's Degree in Media Studies at The New School. After having acquired new tools, learned new theories, and conceived new ideas, I will finally receive my Master's May of 2014. Still, in order to successfully achieve this important milestone in my academic life, I need your support to complete my Master's project.

The project: An Interactive Participatory Mural

To mark the conclusion of my Master's, I have designed a multi-dimensional media project. The final product is an interactive mural that will serve as a space where the residents of a community in Puerto Rico be afforded the experience of creating their own information hub by appropriating new technologies to archive, discuss, comment, and share information that is relevant to their diverse realities. At the same time the mural will work as a visual stimulus to incite critical thinking.

The interactive mural will come to life through augmented reality and will be co-produced by myself and another visual artist, with the support of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI)El Taller DeCentro de Acción Urbana, Comunitaria y Empresarial de Río Piedras (CAUCE); and Sistema de Retiro de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.

Augmented reality (AR) is cutting-edge technology that allows for a digitally enhanced view of the real world, connecting you with more meaningful content in your everyday life. With the camera and sensors in a smartphone or tablet, AR adds layers of digital information "“ videos, photos, sounds "“ directly on top of items in the world around us.

For the purpose of this project, I have identified a community that is close to my heart as it has nurtured and witnessed some of the most productive years of my life so far: Rio Piedras, a neighborhood that is in the exciting process of being revived with community art. It is my goal to contribute new technologies and new media to this socio-cultural movement by mixing a traditional medium, like the mural, with more contemporary ones, such as augmented reality.

After presenting the project to a community group in Rio Piedras, they've decided to curate the interactive mural in commemoration of the town's 300-year anniversary.It will be fascinating to see how this mural becomes both a visual stimulus that will incite critical thinking to those who pass it in regards to the rich history of this town, and as a reciprocal exchange of knowledge made possible by new technology that will allow us to share information that is relevant to the diverse realities of this community. At the same time, the interactive mural will connect people to current community-based projects that they can get involved with.

Once the mural is ready to use, visitors will be encouraged to download an augmented reality application to their smartphones and tablets called Layar. This application will allow them to activate these augments and appropriate, archive, annotate and recirdulate important information about this 300-year-old community. This information will be presented in form of photos and videos, websites and blogs, old maps, news clippings and more.

With this project, it is my goal to share with the Rio Piedras community new tools for community activism. The mural will serve as an example of the many things they can create with new media. As part of my project I have included a New Media for Community Activism 101 workshop that I will be giving during the upcoming month of April. In this workshop an intergenerational group of members of the community will learn how to best utilize computers, tablets, smartphones, blogging and micro-blogging platforms, among many other tools, to advance social change.

What is needed?

We have come a long way! Working with augmented reality tends to be expensive because of the exclusivity of this technology, but GREAT NEWS! As part of their Sponsored Program, the Augmented Reality Company Layar has supported this project by donating the technological support needed for this project.

Now, with Layar's patronage under my belt, I simply need to raise funds for the creation of the actual mural.

With your help, I trust I will be able to secure funding for:

Travel Expenses- Currently living in New York City, I've been traveling to Puerto Rico once a month to do some research, attend community meetings, and give workshops on new technologies and community activism. Two more trips are scheduled for the months of April and May 2014.

Paint and painting materials- I need to provide the artists and the youth group involved in painting the mural the materials they need to create something beautiful that reflects the voice of the community of Río Piedras. The list of materials includes paint in different colors, paint brushes, painting trays, sketching pads, pencils, etc.

Printing of interactive artwork- The type of augmented reality that I will be working with it is called image based augments. This means that augmented reality activates when the user scans an image with his/her phone or tablet. These trigger images need to be printed by good quality printers, laminated to protect them and mount on the mural.

Videographer and Photographer - The innovative nature of this project requires me to document the process to later be presented and shared in the future with others.

Artist Stipend- When the goal is achieved, the artists directing the youth group with the painting of the mural will receive a small stipend as compensation for their work.

How you can help

I've been working on the idea behind this project for almost two years now, and itis beyond rewarding to see that is finally now taking form. What began, as a simple assignment for a semester class is now a full-fledged interactive community mural that depends on your support for its completion. Remember that every dollar counts.

There are different ways to give. You can either (OPTION 1) choose from one of the amounts that have been already established, or (OPTION 2) You can click the "˜DONATE' button and state the amount of your donation. Every dollar counts! Please, help me achieve the goal of raising $1,500.00 to cover the mural's expenses.

What I can offer you

Your donation will automatically make you a sponsor of this project and your name will be added to the donors' lists that will be placed on the mural. If you wish your donation to remain anonymous, please make sure to check the box that says "˜Private' when you enter your information.


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Regina Bultrón Bengoa 
Brooklyn, NY
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