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Dialogo Urbano: Perceptions of Life, Language and Identity in Metropolitan Puerto Rico

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PAGE 1

1 DILOGO URBANO: PERCEPTIONS OF LIFE, LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY IN METROPOLITAN PUERTO RICO By RICARDO HERNNDEZ A PROJECT IN LIEU OF THESIS PR ESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF FINE ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

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2 Copyright 2007 by Ricardo Hernndez

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3 To my mother, Sandra Ester Ruz Jimenez, for s howing me what the word sacrifice truly means.

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to take a brief moment to thank several individuals that helped me through this process. First and foremost, I want to th ank God for giving me the strength and ability to create such a meaningful project He truly is omnipresent and omnipotent. Secondly, I want to thank a woman who recognized my ability since my young age and gave everything in her power to demonstrate her unconditional love for me a nd for what she believed in, my mother. Your presence will always be with me and your depa rture will always sadden me. Mom, there is no form or shape to really envelop what your life means to me and what your death demonstrates. You are a hero to anyone that loves me because through me, they know you and because I want to believe that I am just like you. I want you to know that I would have died for you as well. Thank you for teaching me the value of a home, pl ace, roots, education, self evaluation, family, and God. I thank you for all the hard work and pain you went through in order for me to be where I am today. I know this was not the way you wanted things to end but I know you acknowledge that your mission was accomplished. I know you would be here if you thought I was not ready to be the man that I am today. I wi sh I can continue writing to thank you for every second you gave your children. I know you always cam e second to us and I am thankful now for that because I know why you did it. This paper was your last dream before you died and I am proud to say that I did this for you. In this way, I show you that like you did to me, I put you first and myself second in order to reciprocate in so me way or another the same devotion you showed me. I know you are proud and not surprised by it. I know you want me to continue and I will do so, eventually. I thank you and love you. My academic progress and development is attribut ed to more than just gut, intuition, and hard work; many thanks to all my professors w ho were patient with me in finding my voice in a field that I was struggling becau se I was trying to be what I was not. To Brian Slawson, thank

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5 you for recognizing what I truly l oved and showing me the door to such a wonderful material of knowledge and exploration. Your optimism and en thusiasm will always resonate with your name. Maria Rogal, thank you for being tough an d crude with me. I mean well by both terms. You know that I appreciate tough love because I truly got better by it. I will always remember your desire to better understand cultures a nd your passion for making me understand myself better though my project. I know I am better because I met you and I also feel I write better because you pushed me to articulate my work bette r. I wish we could have talked more, we could have learned a lot from each other. Fiona Mclaughlin, you quietly entered my life but aggressively shook it with your perspiration of love for what you do, which is really how you live. Thank you for showing me how much I coul d learn about life through the study of language and the city. It was you who truly sparked my project. I wish I had met you earlier but know I hope to continue a relationship with you. I hope to learn much more from you. You told me it was possible, you told me is was good enough, my sincere gratitude. I also want to thank Efran Barradas for being such an influence in my wor k. I measured my work by keeping in mind that it had to please your mind and perhaps touch your heart. I hope longevity is the word that describes my friendship with you. A special thank you to Hector Puig who allowed me to exhibit in his gallery and through this process nurtured a friendship a nd mentorship. I admire you more than you can imagine. Thank you to all the sta ff members who were supportive and responsive in my graduate career. To my classmates, thank you for being there when I lost everything. Special thanks to Cameron Thomas. I really do not know what would be of me if you were not there. Honestly, I love you like my brother and admire you like no ot her individual in my life. You are my friend today and always. I will always hold you close to my heart. You saw the most emotions out of

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6 me and that is special to me I will truly miss having you around gringo. To the rest of my classmates, thank you for your voice and cri tique, it was integral to my work. A very sincere and warm gratitude goes to the core network of people whom I call family. You all know that family to me is more than just blood. I do not have to mention names because you all know who you are. Thank you for be ing everything I needed in order for me to be writing this at this moment. Y our support was and still is crucial in my life. I love you all very much. I want to specifically thank my brother, Roy and my sister, Raissa. I love you both very much and that is also a gift from you to our mother. Your voices your li ves, your pains and your heart is in my work. I know how hard was fo r you both to go through this process alone and collectively. I hope this was of your liking a nd I hope one day you will look back and see how much of you guys is in my work. You guys kept me going and inspired me to search deeper because I did this for all of us. Last but not least, I would like to thank a woman that was there every minute of the project, Jennifer Alier. My accomplishment is truly an attribute of your time, disposition and support to my work and myself. You were and sti ll are my best critic. You learned to evaluate my work and myself better than anyone else. There is no way I can repay you for all that you have done for me and my family, but I will surely try and die trying to. I love you more than any words could articulate and your place in my lif e is perpetual. I thank you for everything. Thank you for loving me the way you do. Your love main tains me strong. Your presence in my life inspires me to reach for higher goals and bigger risks. Thank you and I love you.

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7 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................................ .........8 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ............10 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................11 2 INFLUENTIAL BACKGROUND.........................................................................................13 3 TRAGEDY.............................................................................................................................15 4 LOCATION OF RESEARCH................................................................................................ 17 5 URBAN COLONY.................................................................................................................22 Patrimonial Foundation...........................................................................................................22 Colony of Modernization........................................................................................................23 6 FORM OF A CITY.......................................................................................................... .......26 7 MEANING OF A CITY....................................................................................................... ..30 8 PARAMETERS OF PROJECT.............................................................................................. 32 9 RESEARCH PROCESS AND METHODOLOGY................................................................ 39 Research Tools................................................................................................................. .......41 Typography..................................................................................................................... ........42 Authorship..................................................................................................................... .........44 Urban Creative Analysis (UCA).............................................................................................47 Creative Pieces................................................................................................................ ........49 10 IMPORTANCE OF WORK................................................................................................... 70 11 EQUIPMENT AND DOCUMENTATION............................................................................ 74 12 CONCLUSION.............................................................................................................. .........75 LIST OF REFERENCES............................................................................................................. ..77 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................79

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8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3-1. Family grave. Photograph, 2004.......................................................................................16 4-1. Metropolitan Area. Photograph ma nipulated to show area boundaries............................20 4-2. City scene, Bayamn. P hotograph taken in July 2004......................................................21 5-1. Street in Old San Juan. Photograph, 2004........................................................................24 5-2. History of urban Puer to Rico. Artist Book, 2006.............................................................25 6-1. Group of young adults esta blishing a sense of identity. Photograph, 2004, Toa Alta......28 6-2. Fortified wall in Old San Juan. Photograph, 2003............................................................29 8-1. Cockfighting in Las Palmas, Bayamn. Photograph, 2003..............................................34 8-2. Cockfighting in Las Palmas, Bayamn. Photograph, 2003..............................................35 8-3. Llorando y Sangra ndo (2006, 18 x 40) ........................................................................... 36 8-4. Palmera pattern (2006, 12 x 18) ...................................................................................... 37 8-5. Aguacate pattern (2006, 12x 12)...................................................................................... 38 9-1. Blackletter, Goudy Text Regular, 2006.............................................................................. 55 9-2. Filosofia, 2006........................................................................................................... ........55 9-3. Urban poem 1 (2006, 4 x 12)...........................................................................................55 9-4. Urban poem 2 (2006, 4 x 12) ..........................................................................................55 9-5. Urban poem 3 (2006, 4 x 12) ..........................................................................................56 9-6. Urban poem 4 (2006, 4 x 12) ..........................................................................................56 9-7. Urban poem 5 (2006, 4 x 12)...........................................................................................57 9-8. Urban poem 6 (2006, 4 x 12)...........................................................................................57 9-9. Urban poem 7 (2006, 4 x 12)...........................................................................................58 9-10. Bayamn 1 and 2 (2006, 20 x 30). .................................................................................. 58 9-11. Aguacate pattern (2006, 12 x 12).................................................................................... 59

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9 9-12. Aguacate detail, 2006..................................................................................................... .....60 9-13. Patterns of urban culture (2006, 12 x 12 each) ............................................................... 61 9-14. Candelabro detail, 2006................................................................................................... ...62 9-15. Pattern details, 2006............................................................................................................63 9-16. El sabio (2006, 20 x 30) ..................................................................................................64 9-17. El sabio (detail), 2006................................................................................................... ......65 9-18. Ciudad de Carolina, detail (2006, 20 x 30) .....................................................................66 9-19. Residente (2006, 20 x 30)............................................................................................... .67 9-20. Residente (detail), 2006.................................................................................................. ....68 9-21. Carolina (2006, 20 x 30) ............................................................................................... ..69 10-1. Exhibition piece, 2006.................................................................................................... ....72 10-2. Exhibition opening, close-up view (April 17, 2006)..........................................................72 10-3. Exhibition opening (April 17, 2006).... ..............................................................................73

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10 Summary of Project Option in Lieu of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts DILOGO URBANO: PERCEPTIONS OF LIFE, LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY IN METROPOLITAN PUERTO RICO By Ricardo Hernndez May 2007 Chair: Brian Slawson Major Department: Art and Art History This creative project explores my perception of the urban landscape of the metropolitan area in Puerto Rico. Since its discovery by the Spanish, San Juan has always been primarily urban and it is this density that has defined the way we are today. This urbanity has affected our language, cuisine, music, architec ture, and entire way of life. It has also molded me as an individual, artist, student, and citizen. My objec tive in this research project is to expose the urban, and other, realities that live within me through writing and visual memories. It also attempts to depict several urban conditions in which exist in the metropolitan area today. In order to begin my explorati ons, I, collected from imagery th at belonged to my family for generations and as well as that wh ich I collected during my visits and life in Puerto Rico. This auto-ethnographic technique accentuates my per ception of life in the city (this being the metropolitan area of Puerto Rico). Through a proc ess of collection, analysis, and evolution, I emphasized poetry and cockfighting the latter a metaphor for being a man in the city. Through these I filtered then transformed the content a nd visual product of my creative work. It became the threshold between my past, my present and my future. The connections between my imagery and poetry are an attempt to be tter understand not only myself but the complexity of Puerto Rican identity in an urban setting.

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11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION As a young child I vividly remember the stre ets, establishments, intersections, and neighborhoods that composed my landscape. My mo ther never told me this was my home but I subconsciously felt it was due to my vast knowledge of it. It was recently when I realized that what I called home was not necessarily those elem ents that shape the landscape. Home was truly the fusion of people, food, music, language, expe riences and education I received while living in the Metropolitan Area of Puerto Rico. It was such things that afforded me to be comfortable in the landscape, therefore calling it home. Through my eyes, I absorbed body expressi ons, architectonic language, violence, compassion, love, hate, fashion, consumerism, and language; generally everything that which constitutes culture. At that point in my life, I absorbed culture but did not necessarily understand how it was affecting me. I do not th ink my mother knew either. Nevertheless, life in the city was a challenge everyday. As I got older, my knowle dge grew with the city and its inevitable changes. This is how culture grew in me. T oday, I look back at my life in my homeland and analyze every path I took and every new path I ta ke. I look at the construction of my culture as a dweller, visitor, academic and designer. In orde r to define what todays complexity of urban identity constitutes, an analysis and description of the history of urban Puerto Rico must be established. It is through this de piction that one can truly begin to understand the place that today defines Puerto Rican urban culture a nd the complexity of its identity. It took a tragedy in my life in order for me to question and self reflect what I have been through. When my mother was diagnosed with ca ncer, and an appointment was made with her death, I decided that if anyone kne w more about me was she and I n eeded to seek for answers. I did not expect her to answer all the questi ons but I knew she understood where I was coming

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12 from. My desire to look for meaning was crucial since the weight of the family now rested upon my weak shoulders. Through countless conversations and many tears, I began realizing that as Socrates says, "the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." If I lived there for so long and I continuously visited, w hy did I feel I knew less now than yesterday? It seemed that there was a problem with translation. My mother decoded the experiences differently and as I child, I decoded things according to how my mother molded those experiences. Therefore, my mother directly influenced the language I knew. No t that there is anything wrong with that, but in order for me to find or at least attempt to find the meaning of my culture I needed to experience the place for myself and understand those e xperiences I lived through my mother. This experience developed a new language that I was una ware of and a language my mother would be proud of. It is the voice of a dweller, historian, visitor, academic, designer and most importantly, of a citizen of the Puerto Rican urban culture that wants to help his community in some unique way even if it is through the exposure of my work as a designer or writer.

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13 CHAPTER 2 INFLUENTIAL BACKGROUND The desire to venture into the exploration of urban and cultural iden tity arises from a disciplined past. I am the son of a teacher Sandra Ruiz. My mother worked at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico; this is the biggest private universit y in the island. Ever since I can remember, she used to take us to her o ffice and we would play around chemistry labs, mathematic classrooms and computer laboratories We were always surrounded by adults and in this case, academics and students. While most ki ds were playing outside in their neighborhoods, we spent a great deal of time inside classrooms listening and doing academic assignments. We didnt seem to mind. As my mother taught class, I would be sitting down with math professors doing homework in order to be ah ead of my class. The university was my domain and everyone knew us around campus. The desire to be in scho ol and learn was instil led by my mother since early age. Furthermore, if being in a univers ity doing homework and extra academic work was not enough, my mother enrolled my siblings and I into military school, Lincoln Military Academy in Guaynabo. Ever since I was 5 years old, I attended this school. It was a very demanding and highly disciplined institution. We were observed at all times to make sure that not only behavior but also appearance was met since we used military uniforms. As you can see, discipline was a big part of my childhood. I spen t my days studying and going to church since my family was heavily into church attendance. This was pretty much my life for about sixteen years. When I turned 16, my moth er decided to move to the US in order for us to pursue a better education. This decision came very abruptly and r eally impacted our lives. Not only did I had to move from the only place I had ever known but I had to do it in a blink of an eye. My mother had planned to move but decided not to tell us until the last moment. I left my home, my lifetime friends, and everything else I kne w to that point for a new life where I had no opinion in the

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14 decision process. I was upset but I knew my mother was always a smart woman and that her decision in our lives had a positive purpose to them. Once I arrived in Florida, I found myself imme rsed in a new culture that constituted new language, different ethnic cultures, new architectoni c expressions, basically everything new. It was a rough transition. I found myse lf displaced since I did not find a common denominator with other peers. I truly coul d not find meaning to my mothers de cision. It was not until I went to college at the University of Fl orida that I found out what that purpose was. At the university, I found my passion for space and langu age. I studied Interior Desi gn as an undergraduate and was fascinated with space and place. I manifested my passion through academic assignments but it wasnt until a visit I had to Puer to Rico that I noticed that I was seeing my old home differently. This visit took place in 2001, 5 y ears after I moved. I started analyzing space, language, place, objects and so on. This was why my mother ma de that decision. She knew I was going to acute my senses once being away from what I used to know for so long. This desire grew into my decision of studying in Graduate School. My interest in graphic design graduate school be gan late junior year of college. At that point, I found myself manifesting spaces very differently from ot her classmates. I found myself interested in typography, color, imagery and presentation as mu ch as the space itself. Once I began studying in graduate school, I saw the th reshold between the two in my life. What one field did for me in a macro scale, the other one did it in a micro scale. I was able to explore a vast field of landscape and translate it into meani ng. I fell in love with th at communication between space and individual. Nevertheless, I still had not found what I really wanted to do for my creative project. It took a tragedy for me to realize what the purpose truly was.

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15 CHAPTER 3 TRAGEDY In November of 2003, during my first year of Graduate School, my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. At that moment, I had no idea on what to do next now that my mother was facing a terminal disease. It was shocking. My mother never had a cold, never felt any physical pain. She was truly strong. She worked three jobs to keep us afloat and still had time to spend with us and joke around the house while doing typical Puerto Rican dishes. On the other hand, I felt lost, powerless, and looking for answers I knew I was not going to get. My entire life flashed across my eyes. The disease did not stop my moth er from telling me to stay in school and go through it while staying in track to graduate. It was a painful experience and one that I do not wish on anyone. How to decide whether to leav e or stay knowing the only person who cared for me needed me to care for her. A lot of changes occurred through this situat ion but the pivotal time in my life came when my mother passed away with brai n cancer (Figure 3-1). Even t hough it took nearly a year for her to pass away since she was diagnosed, the reality was harder than the process. When she passed, I truly immersed myself into writing and photogr aphy. I wanted to capture anything that caught my eye or came across my mind; this became my th erapy in some way or another. I wanted to encapsulate things, people, places, etc. anything that had a tie betw een my mother and I. I felt as if this process would allow me to find not onl y myself, but my mother as well. I guess that having my mother gone, I figured that I needed to learn and know about myself since I had nobody else to assist me in the process. It wa s truly an amazing process, which I will unveil further in later chapters. But there was one thing th at truly I was not prepared for and this was the role change that occurred in my life. After my mother was un able to care for herself, I found myself taking on the roles of a father, a mother, a brother, a friend, to a 14-year-old girl in a

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16 sensitive time in her life. My sist ers question of identity starte d not only because of her age as an adolescent, but also because the mother that molded her life was not there anymore. It was now my turn to help her find out what her roots are and how she can identify herself not only to her family but also to herself. It was important to return to Puerto Rico in order for her to see it from her own eyes and my eyes as well; this how the process of documentation began. Figure 3-1. Family grave. Photograph, 2004.

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17 CHAPTER 4 LOCATION OF RESEARCH My investigative work takes place in the Metro politan Area of Puerto Rico. This area is composed of the municipalities of San Juan, Bayamn, Guaynabo, Catao, Canvanas, Caguas, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto and Carolin a (Figure 4-1). Nearly 3 million inhabitants commute or dwell in this area everyday. The impo rtance of this area in todays contemporary landscape is vital not only to the local community of Puerto Rico but the global fabric as well. The impact of this metropolitan area is eviden t through our economy, touris m, leisure activities, scholarly institutions and vernacular networks. Th e area seems to be an organism that grows and changes without any predetermined plan ev en though governmental institutions would say otherwise. While occupying the landscape, one f eels the disorder, the chaos and multiplicity of living, people and culture. Now that I am away fr om its physical space bu t so close to it through my research, I understand what Richard Sennett calls learning from chaos. Let it be clear that I do not believe that Puer to Rican culture is onl y what happens within the metropolitan area but it does have an impact on how Puerto Rican culture is perceived due to its magnitude of dwellers. My investigative work looks at the complexity of Puerto Rican urban identity; its constituents within the main land and the impact away from it. There are other urban agglomerates in Puerto Rico, the most recogniz ed being in Ponce, Mayaguez and Arecibo but the intensity of the islands urban population is in the metro area. What Se nnett calls chaos is the area of interest in my investigative and creativ e work. Due to this vast urban proximity, we cannot overlook the effect it has in shaping the is lands culture and cultural perception. Puerto Rico is 74 percent urban and 71 percent of that urban population lives in the metro area. What the world is now shifting to, urban majority has b een the mode of living in Puerto Rico for quite a while. The ratio of dwellers in the landscape pl aces Puerto Rico in the Latin American urban

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18 primacy model, even though Puerto Rico is at times not considered part of Latin America. Nevertheless, the ratio and the is lands history determines how cl osely connected it is to other Latin American cities. The population number s are reflected in the latest US census. Urban primacy is the empirical distribution of city populations in a territory. In Latin America, this model is reflected through the bigge st city (the capital) being bigger in population than the next three cities combined. In this m odel, we are looking at San Juan and Bayamn as one unit. The model is a direct reflection of its hi story. It reflects the power the Spanish colonial municipalities had over their hi nterlands as proposed by Fernando H. Cardoso in his book, the city and politics The effects of this model are highl y complex and it encompasses the economy, social and cultural stability of Latin American communities not only to themselves but also as part of a global community. Through this, I me rely wanted to estab lish a foundation to my investigative work and its effect in the prem ises beyond a personal decision and more in an academic platform. If one looks at some of the largest metro ar eas in the Americas, Me xico is #2 and Chicago is #7, whereas San Juan-Bayamn is #59. By looking cl oser into these areas, one will notice that San Juan-Bayamn has the least land per square k ilometer and it has the mo st density per square kilometer. What this means is that even though Me xico City is one of th e biggest Megalopolis of the world, the San Juan-Bayamn area is denser than Mexico City. It is an impressive fact and one that I really wanted to e xplore. Cities are usually looked at through their volume, being the numerical value given to describe its population in number but they are rarely looked at in its density model. This involves looking at the city through its mass, being th e usable space and its volume being its dwellers. This means that water mu st be omitted since it is not a usable mode of living at this moment. This is the reason why the San JuanBayamn area is considerably the

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19 densest area in the Americas. Even though I did no t develop my thesis with extensive statistical charts and mathematical models, the area is magn ificent in human interaction and cultural value. The population of the metropolitan area and the proxi mity of its dwellers contain an immense impact on its identity and it cannot be overlook ed. The metropolitan areas edge seems to continue growing due to advances in roads and transportation engi neering. It is empirical to observe and document the value of what at tim es is overlooked because it is not a monument made of marble or stone or considered a major tourist attraction. Our inna te culture is what we live not merely what establishes a sense of pride with the culture th at lived before us. The city is our contemporary monument to the other generati ons that will follow us (Figure 4-2). The more we understand, study and value it; the generations after us wi ll be able to care for it.

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20 Figure 4-1. Metropolitan Area. Photogra ph manipulated to show area boundaries.

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21 Figure 4-2. City scene, Bayam n. Photograph taken in July 2004.

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22 CHAPTER 5 URBAN COLONY The colonial city of San Juan was a confr ontation of an urban vision that disregarded topography and local culture. The condition of today s San Juan and its outskirt cities contain a blueprint of what was done by the Crown over fi ve hundred years ago. This blueprint is more than just spatial; it has shaped the culture of todays contemporary landsca pe. In order to begin understanding todays urban environment in the San Juan metro area, we must first be aware of how it was founded and shaped in its colonial times (Figure5-1). A Patrimonial Foundation Puerto Ricos documented urban history began in the early 1500s as the Spanish arrived to the New World. An abundance of this informati on is in the form of writings of oral accounts done by the Spaniards when they arrived a nd oral accounts that have traveled through generations through coplas. Coplas are simply oral accounts told by the local community and carried through generations. This method of histor y telling was developed due to the constraints the early urban dwellers had becau se some were illiterate and the rest were not allowed to read. Either way, the Spanish felt that through educati on came power, so its was forbidden. Another factor to Puerto Ricos poor urban history was du e to the Dutch attacks in the late 1500s. Puerto Ricos first discovery resulted in an exploratory trip with no in tention of occupying the land. In the second voyage though, the Spanish occupied Puer to Rico with the inte ntion of staying there and establishing power. Entering land, they encountered an i ndigenous population, Tanos, who belonged to Arawak group. It is belie ved that the Tanos received Juan Ponce de Leon well. It is believed that this positive welcoming had to do with the perception the Tainos had of these visitors being sent from their gods. This was al so true of other indige nous populations in Latin America and North America. They might have felt that instead of conquistadores, they were gifts

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23 or messengers from theirs gods. It is here that urban composition begins to appear in the Puerto Rican landscape. In order to gain control of th e land and the Tanos, they had to urbanize. By delineating the land, they started defining their po wer onto the landscape. This would assist them in gaining control over the Tanos and ultimately decimating them. At this time, the process of urbanization began with full force and their cultural behaviors began to tran sform the identity of the city. The city was fortified, the streets were narrow, the roads were paved in stone and the scale began to move upwards. The city was a place to parade the street in order to be seen and look for a spouse. It was a place, of what the Spanish would call, gentiles, noble men and noble women (Figure 5-2). Colony of Modernization Today, Puerto Ricos metropolitan area is a rich landscape of culture, architectonic manifestations and rich histor ic monuments. Even though the me tropolitan area has continually grown, the government has made the effort to maintain its Spanish built monuments intact by protecting them and preserving them. By doing suc h, the Puerto Rican community is able to see and feel their pride through these monuments. Th is has also helped immensely in tourism. The metropolitan area is truly an aggressive mixt ure of patrimony and modernization. Even though our physical tie to the Crown wa s over in 1898 through the Spanish-Am erican War, we still feel like a colony being a commonwealth of the United States. This political position will maintain Puerto Rico being a colony th rough modernization. This crea tes a fragile state in the communitys understanding of identity and culture.

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24 Figure 5-1. Street in Ol d San Juan. Photograph, 2004.

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25 Figure 5-2. History of urban Puerto Rico. Artist Book, 2006.

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26 CHAPTER 6 FORM OF A CITY Old San Juan, like many other Latin American citie s, contains straight streets that intersect each other in right angles. This composition delineates an orthogonal grid called squares. The square, appropriated from the Greeks was then mastered by the Romans and began to spread throughout Europe. This form is very practical and easy to construct. This method was widely used throughout Latin America and Europe. The empty space of one of these squares is the plaza, and its relationship to the streets and the squares is clearly determined by itself (Tern, 2002.) This architectural void becomes the spa ce for social congregat ion, thus becoming the most active communal space. This simple compositi on is repeated continuously and it becomes a signature of the Latin American city. Like discusse d before, it has similarities to other cities in Europe but the rigidity of San Juan is only simila r to other Latin American cities such as Baeza, Puerto Real and Santa Fe. This spatial mani festation is still part of the Old San Juan. Just as in Europe, the occupation of Puerto Rico was a conscious effort of expressing power and domination over the existing culture and landscape (Q uiles 2003). This remark is clearly established in the Law XXIV of Felipe II in the 137th Ordinance: que cuando los indios los vean les cau se admiracin y entienda n que los espaoles pueblan all de asiento y os teman y respeten, para desear su amistad y no los ofendan Through this ordinance, the Spanish Crown inci tes the admiration of the tanos. They want to demonstrate that they were occupying the space and that it was theirs, therefore, inciting fear in the tanos so they would resp ect and submit to their rules. Du e to this aggressive occupation technique, the Crown overlooks all the mistakes they were making in the process. They were not the best planners but they surely were great in timidators. It was not until the Law of the Indies that a process develops to control the growth of cities. Nevertheless, by the time the Law of the

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27 Indies comes in the year 1573 and establishes the cr iteria to these parcels, San Juan is already taking form and the mistakes are already in pl ace. Amongst all forms in the city, the Spanish inculcate the importance of two el ements, the street and the plaza as part of the quotidian life. Spaniards use the outdoor spaces to flaunt their ri ches and be seen by others. This is how men met women and men discussed business. This co uld be a direct determinant of the Latin American and Caribbean fascinatio n with the outdoor landscape. A brief depiction of the colonial city establishes a sense of origin to what todays urban landscape is. A tie to the colonial city still remains and even t hough some of it has been damaged through modernization, the core of th e city still remains. The footprin t of the colonial city allows us to depict that we come from somewhere a nd someone, whether that has positive or negative implications to our history, its existence permits our mortality (Figure 6-1). This demonstrates how the metropolitan area truly depicts a binary urban landscape, the co lonial and contemporary. I include this portion of the histor y in my creative project due to the importance the Puerto Rican population places onto these monuments of the ini tial colonial city. The attachment to these monuments comes to no surprise and it should not su rprise you either (Fig ure 6-2). We all yearn the belonging of something and someone else; it is part of our nature.

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28 Figure 6-1. Group of young adults establishing a sense of identity. Photograph, 2004, Toa Alta.

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29 Figure 6-2. Fortified wall in Old San Juan. Photograph, 2003.

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30 CHAPTER 7 MEANING OF A CITY The rich meaning of the city lies not only in the diversity of people who occupy it but also in form--where the knowledge of possibilities that the centralit y and simultaneityin form of Lefebvreoffers (Almandoz, 2000). Wh at this passage refers to is the dialogue that occurs in the city between the dwellers and the citys built environment. Together, it creates a core of interaction that enriches its existence. One cannot exist without the other so the form is truly the simultaneity of both. It is the stories of those who inhabit the city that gives color to the culture. But what happens when one leaves and a void is placed upon the landscape and the memories that once composed ones life? The void leaves a map of images that one y earns to return and unveil in order to bring meaning to the urban culture that the process of modernization has transformed. It is simply a process of filling in the blanks that once were filled but displacement has blurred them. Once one is ready to refill the blanks, once notices the possi bility of filling in with different words from those one once had. It is inevitab le, we change and the city changes. What it meant before now contains a different meaning. An important part of the memories are kept in the interiors, in the spaces behind the faade (Quiles 2003). In the book, Tras la fachada (Behind the Faade), Edwin Quiles talks about the spatial qualities of these memories. He explains them as architectonic manifestations but I see them as emotional constructs to these memories The same process in which modernity erases the landscape through renovation or transformation, the memory erases it as well but when you are displaced from this landscape prior to modern ization, your memory is kept in the time when you occupied it. These memories, as Quiles says must be brought to the surface because they represent the ways in which others lived the pro cess of being in the city. This is what indeed

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31 constructs a community. The experiences compos e the city in which I lived and continuously visit. This process is on ly possible through the action of living and leaving. My creative manifestation of the city occurs through living in the city, leaving the city and then returning to it in order to analyze what you have lear ned away from it. This is where writing, photography, composing and reading become integral facets on the exploration on urban identity. This is where the metaphor of the car, th e plane and the foot tran sforms ones life in the search for meaning in the urban setting. Fu rther information on these metaphors will be discussed in a later chapter.

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32 CHAPTER 8 PARAMETERS OF PROJECT The creative project involves the explorati on of identity and culture through autoethnographic research in order to understand a complex cultural identity. Its goal is to allow people to see the power of memory and the proce ss of understanding cultural identity, even if the viewer is foreign to the culture. Works on the fields of anthro pology, ethnography, graphic design, architecture, urban design, ph otography and linguistics, were st udied in order to arrive to this stage of completion to my creative project. All of the work in this project was written and documented by me and it exposes the perception of my experiences in Puerto Ricos urban landscape. It was crucial for me to understand what the culture meant to me first before assuming how others live and experience it. Whether anyo ne else feels this is the appropriate way to understand and analyze cultural iden tity is up to the individual. I found that this method allowed me to understand the city beyond its governmental patrimonies. I also paid particular attention to the even t of cockfighting (Figure 8-1). The decision to document and study it was due to the strong connection the local cu lture has with it. Cockfighting is considered to be the national sport of Puerto Rico and I was interested in seeing how this patrimonial event plays a role in how we see and understand ourselves as Puerto Ricans (Figure 8-2). By creating a metaphor between a how a gamecock is raised and prepared to fight in the cockpit and the pr ocess of growing into manhood in the cit y, I was able to create a stronger connection to my exploration of cultural urban id entity. Understanding co mes with maturity and experiences. The more you experience the city, the better you should un derstand it. In this manner, the process of maturity from boyhood to manhood relates to the process a gamecock, as it is developed to fight in the cockpit. My goal was to develop a narrativ e about my experiences in the city through images, poetr y, patterns, and music as I e xpose the city and cockfighting

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33 (Figures 8-3, 8-4). In figure 8-3, I present a co llage that depicts the intensity of the city. My intention was to demonstrate elemen ts of the city that annoy its dw ellers but we have learned to live with. This particular piece, comments on how the population of the metropolitan area is perpetually bleeding and crying from the intense competition that is created by the over populated area. In figures 8-4 and 8-5, I developed pattern extracted from elements of the city that resonate with memories of my childhood. Th is collection demonstrates that even ones memory has the power to communicate and educat e others on cultural values. The development of pieces truly became a plural tool of visual communication. It satisfi ed my journey to find myself and through that, also expos ing my culture to other in orde r for them to see what urban culture is in the metro area of Puerto Rico. My work overarches themes of density, violence, love, competition, and cuisine, which are global facets of urban culture bu t I depict it with my local textures, language and imagery. My overarching question is: how can one inve stigate and appropriately expose cultural identity in an academic perspectiv e while attaining a fine art product in order to place it back as a cultural artifact? Also, how can I revive the reality of the outside world as a dimension of visual experience? Other questions that complemented my exploration of urban culture where: What is urban culture? What elements complement Puerto Rican urban culture? What is the relationship between a gamecock and a man? Is there one Puerto Rican urban culture?

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34 Figure 8-1. Cockfighting in Las Palmas, Bayamn. Photograph, 2003.

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35 Figure 8-2. Cockfighting in Las Palmas, Bayamn. Photograph, 2003.

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36 Figure 8-3. Llorando y Sangrando. 18 x 40, 2006.

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37 Figure 8-4. Palmera pattern. 12 x 18, 2006.

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38 Figure 8-5. Aguacate pattern. 12x 12, 2006.

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39 CHAPTER 9 RESEARCH PROCESS AND METHODOLOGY The desire to further explore my initial crea tive proposal was the acknowledgement of a lack of identity in my life. Regardless of ones life within a specific culture, usually there is a disconnection to what the reality of ones purpose due to the proximity one is to that culture. At times, it is beneficial to step backwards and see fro m afar the constituents of that culture in order to better understand it. Once distance is establ ished, whether be physical mental, emotional or all, one must understand what kind of desi gn research is involved in the project. Many individuals and schools have attemp ted to define what design rese arch is, most notably, Lszl Moholy-Nagy from the Bauhaus, Dreyfuss, and Frayli ng in the early 1990s. In its most recent definition design research is iden tified in three modes: research into design, research through design, and research for design (Laurel 2003.) Research into de sign refers to the historical and aesthetic value of the content. Research through design refers to the project, materials and its development. Lastly, research for design refers to the purpose to creat e and then display the research and prove its value. The last one is by fa r the most difficult to atta in, but one that I feel was attained with this creative project. Therefore, the se nse of emptiness for not knowing the into and the for of the design of what I ha d lived, permitted me to seek for answers or perhaps raise other questions. The exploration of oneself in the urban landscape can lead to a compilation of ideas, theories and discoveries of not only the indi vidual but also the agglomeration of people that occupy a cosmopolitan area. Design research is anything but traditional, and in my project, I needed to practice more than one model in order to reach a level of not only completion but also au thenticity. It is the authenticit y, in my opinion, what adds the for of the creative project. From focus gr oups, participatory methods and ethnography, the project involved many facets but there was one th at was uncontrollable, the city. Due to the

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40 citys perpetual change and its unpredictable transformation, the project contained a sense of adaptation and organic growth that was not fore seen from its initial conception. It was that organic quality that pe rmitted the projects authenticity to some degree. The same organic growth allowed me to change with the proj ect. The process of individual and project transformation came at the same time. The urban culture of Puerto Ri co is too plural to magnify. Wh at this means is that every individual will manifest and articulate its esse nce differently. Due to this plurality, a decision was made to further explore my own culture within this urban context. This allows a level intimacy and unfiltered perspective to the culture. This auto-ethnographic research required the observation of things, people, pl aces, language, and many other elem ents that subconsciously or consciously, I have participated in or with, but no t necessarily realized th e role it had in shaping my culture. Initially, memories became data but those were not substantial enough to make project credible as a study of urban identity. In order to connect people to place, time, language, etc. something must be more direct than just word s. This tool must be visual and when combined with words, the understanding of culture will be clearer. For th is reason, photography became the catalyst to this metropolitan culture. It is difficu lt to depict the complexity of the metropolitan area in Puerto Rico due to its vast plurality in space, language, and imagery. The city crosses itself like a hammocks fabric suspended by tw o trees. The metropolitan area is not clearly ordered and it is difficult to explain and describe, that is the reason why photography became such an integral element. Through countless pho tographs, an urban area was exposed with its countless realities and the manifestati on of its plurality was magnified. The research process and methodology is worthle ss if the project did not contain a sense of authenticity. That is the reason that all work (writing, photography, collage etc) was done by me.

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41 No footage and data was used other than my ow n in order to produce my creative outcome. This was only possible through partic ipating in the ethnographic res earch. This decision was made after reading and agreeing with the practices and techniques of ethnography in and outside academia. By understanding that ethnographic acc ounts are descriptive and interpretive (Laurel 2003,) only my own culture seemed to be the only th ing I felt prepared to depict. Realizing that culture is lived, my visual qual itative (photos, video, observation, ar tifacts, material collection) and verbal qualitative data (oral histories, inte rviews) become essential to the authenticity. This gathering of data can take years of intensive fieldwork and at tim es it is unsuccessful because it is considered that the research er needs to, as Tim Plowman men tions in his article Ethnography and Critical Design Practice, become accepted as a natural part of the culture or context under study. This was my advantage in th e exploration the urban culture. As a natural of the island and more specifically the metropolitan area, my presen ce causes no negative impact in my interaction with any of its elements therefore increasing the likelihood of the accounts being part of the natural environment. Establishing such comfor t, the experience becomes a matter of creating a dialogue between the internal manifestation (tim e and memory) and external component (place). The importance of both narratives was integral to the understanding of this complex landscape. The purpose was not necessarily for the viewer to fully understand or become an expert in the culture; it was merely an exploration in which I hope individuals will be able to notice the complexity and richness of this metropolitan area. If the viewer became aware of this plurality of time and space and began questioning his or her own identity within an urban landscape, my project could be considered a success. Research Tools Photography was taken of certain aspects of urban lif e, these being: the street, intersection, dwellers, transportation, fashion, la nguage, architectonic forms that depict time of construction

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42 and periods, etc. Clearly, the magnitude of photographic collection was vast. The idea behind this was to cover multiple elements that coexist within one photograph if taken afar and focus on some of them if taken closer. By doing such, I was able to begin analyzing the connection to myself, as a dweller of the area, and the conn ection people have being residents of an urban landscape whether you are from there or not. This process ended with thousands of photos to look at and analyze prior to fragmenting them into categories to better locate them in the creative process. From there, categories were established in order to qu ickly delineate th eir location and content. Some of these categories were: place, people, food, nature, city, transportation, specific events, miscellaneous, and memories. The categor ies could have been a nything. The individual doing the research defines the process of categoriz ing. It is merely a st ep to facilitate and economize time while searching through them. Video was also captured within different urba n scenes and events. The footage would act as data that could be reviewed once out of th e metropolitan area. This was important because it was able to capture audio as well. Through this there was less note taking and more of just participating in the environment unobtrusivel y. Among the footage, pe rsonal conversations, social interactions, strangers conversations, city noise, natural sounds, etc were captured through this tool. This method also allowe d for observation of behavior and the built environment. Typography The history of urban Puerto Rico is assembled by two major colonizing periods: the Spanish and the Commonwealth. These two periods contain their respective importance in history and their effect in our Puerto Rican urban culture is clearly defined. In order to expressively signify their importance in Puerto Ricos urban identity, it was vital to clearly define these two periods in the body of work. It is here where typography becomes a strategic

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43 tool to not only to visually render the message but also stylistically repr esent these two dominant periods of Puerto Ricos history. Through t ypography one is able to communicate more than message; it has the potential of enveloping elements of place, time, power, and culture. Understanding the potential, my body of work revolves around writing. The writing exposes not only messages but also the character of th e pieces through its typographic compositions. From research, several typefaces were selected to further enhance the creative project. One typeface would be a blackletter and the other one a contemporary serif. Blackletter, also known as Gothic script, was a script used throughout Western Europe from 1150 to 1500. This script allows me to quickly position the viewer in a pla ce and time, therefore effi ciently delineating the importance of the Spanish colonial period. Even t hough a specific style or type of blackletter was not defined in Spain, it is conc luded that blackletter, spre ad throughout Europe quickly. Countless documents demonstrate th e use of blackletter as authen tic and official documents. The blackletter textura, which is the style of Goudy Text Regular, was widely used by the Romans. This is one of the reasons why I selected th is typeface. The Spanish culture was heavily influence by the Romans since the Roman Empire occupied what today is Spain. Furthermore, religion, Roman Catholic, became Spains main re ligion and to this day, Catholicism is the predominant religion, not only in Spain but also in Latin America. I selected Goudy Text Regular (Figure 9-1) as the typeface that encompasses the colonial period and Filosofia as the contemporary period (Figure 9-2). Goudy Text Regular contains a balance between white and black elements. What this typeface was able to provide was the great presen ce of authenticity. This allowed me to depict Spains romantic but strong emphasis to power and history. The typeface is strong and legible at a big scale. This allowed me to emphasize the monumentality of patrimony and fortified

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44 architecture that the Spanish left in Puerto Ri co. Furthermore, this typeface added the dimension of time that I was after. Filosofia afforded me with the opportunity to play with scale. This typeface is comfortable to read at a small scale and equally beautiful at a large scale. The typeface is truly stylistic and beautiful. It worked well as a contemporary type face to represent a different time and a different voice. It represents todays contemporary landsca pe. Once my typefaces were selected for the compositions, I needed to begin molding the importance and the reason why I wanted to design My interest in this project grew from a voi d in my life, the displacement from my home and my mother. It was that void that got me inte rested in reading about urban theory and authors such as Richard Sennett and Kevi n Lynch, who offered me a great d eal of insight on how to read urban form and life. But I also read Borges and poetry of a friend, Guillerm o Rebollo Hil. It was the poetry that satisfied my emotional side while Lynch and Sennett my academic side. While reading, I continuously kept writi ng about experiences that I rememb ered or insights into how I perceived urban life. Writing became very impor tant in the process. I was writing ideas, memories, experiences, thoughts, conversations, mu sic, etc. The purpose of writing was to allow me to go back to something and develop visual compositions out of wo rds. Writing became the root of the project. Authorship Today, cultures are viably absorbed thr ough communication. Media and books act as filters of this unknown phenomenon. This modern method of understanding cultures has a hole, this being the direction in which the information is going This unidirectional transfer does not allow the recipient to feed back into the fo rmula. What this creates is an assumed and unauthentic representation to what the culture is. Stereotypes are a product of this model. The most optimal model is one that is bidirectional and both parties are allowed to dialogue back and

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45 forth. It is through the transact ion of the bidirectional model that one can truly begin to understand cultural identity. In order for the dialogue to take place, one must interact with other naturals, see and hear their respective opi nions. In urban Puerto Rico, specifically the metropolitan area, this dialogue occurs bilinguall y. So many American brands and products are present in this area that it is merely impo ssible to negate them. Th e metropolitan landscape contains a constant dialogue between the Engl ish and Spanish language. What is bilingual by nature has become one language, Spanglish. This is more evident in the younger generation than any other. The creative project is based on the identi ty of the outside so in nature, it is bilingual. I am bilingual and I also speak fluent Spang lish. The young Puerto Rican generations have adopted and continue to recreate this broken language in order to posses something unique about the culture and through this proce ss, affect culture. This hybrid language has become so widely used that it is now heard in America, Latin Am erica and even Europe. It has been magnified through music and commercialized throughout the worl d. Because the plural use of English and Spanish is used to todays urban landscape, the decision to use both languages was made in order to preserve the authenticity to what is experience d in the street rather than the classroom per say. This transaction was crucial to my creative proj ect because not only did I project my perception but also the perception of others who interact with me. In orde r to arrive into a position of transaction between others, and my self, I wrote poems that depict realities of the urban quotidian life. These self-written poems we re internally processed and their messages contain an important meaning to me. Understanding the fragility of this transaction, authorship becomes an integral facet of my creative wor k. Even though my natural occupation of the space, as I was born and raised there, adds credibility to the work, it is authorship what roots the work to me. Through authorship, I take responsibil ity and position the viewer to un derstand the culture through my

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46 participation in it. Above all, I fe lt that there is a need to expose the different realities of this metropolitan area because people, who are not from there, assume that life is one way when it is really more layered than media perhaps, depicts it. Even those living within this urban edge, at times, overlook the essence of living in such form and end up not appreciating the great value the city has on our culture and us. If one learns a nd grows through the difference in others, what better place than the city to magnify and allow us the opportun ity to immerse ourselves in such exploration. As I was born and rais ed there, I learned and shaped myself through this plurality and even though I might not have understood such tr ansformation earlier, it st ill had an effect in me. People might perceive my work as pessimist ic or perhaps detrimental because they overlook the details on how the city works. My work is not a negative outlook on the city. It is merely a depiction of the things that allowed me to learn, develop character, garner my competitive personality and at the same time be humble a bout my position in this shared urban space. This need, to better understand ones purpose and m eaning, rises from the death of my mother. Her role in helping me figure out what I am was tore through death so it was up to me to search for such. Writing became the most intimate yet recipr ocal form of dialoguing between my external reality, my recognition of presence and my inte rnal memories. The writing not only depicts my memories, experiences and observations, it also demonstrates that even though the urban world is composed of different cultures, we all still share common experiences within this context. The writing allows the reader to create sensorial expe riences with the work. The work could say what other people say but it is my words that give m eaning to the research because the viewer is able to experience a culture through my eyes, my word s, acting as a filter to their heart and mind.

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47 Urban Creative Analysis (UCA) As I read theory, poetry and hi story of urban form and life, I visited Puerto Rico three times in order to document the images in which I was writing about in my journals. In each trip, I stayed for a period of three months and it was during those nine months that I documented all images and started molding the research. The suc cess of this research relied on a process that started well beyond my decision to study in Grad uate School. This process breaks down into these: Living in Puerto Rico (Car) Leaving Puerto Rico (Plane) Returning to Puerto Rico (Foot) Through these three metaphors, one can truly begin studying and evaluating urban identity. These metaphors contain the elements of velocity, distance, and energy; they require the use of all your senses as a method to describe the city. Living in Puerto Rico. The car refers to the time one spends in the city under the supervision of older siblings. It is at this time when one looks at the city from inside the car at various velocity but always maintaining a dist ance to the use of touch, smell and at times hearing. One looks out, protected by the car and the trajectories that the person driving chooses. In this stage, one is looking at the city at a velocity that only permits you to see the facades the city portrays to you. This is the time when one begins understanding landmarks as nodes of direction within the city. It is ve ry important because this stage is the first stage of the process of understanding the city. Leaving Puerto Rico. The second stage is the plane. It is in this stage where one leaves the city for whatever reason and has th e perspective to look at it from a bove. In this stage, distance is

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48 a critical factor. Also, it is in this stage wher e one must use the mind to recover memories from the time you could use your senses. Away from it, one counts on books, articles and sporadic visits that refresh your mind with more images th at define you in this urban landscape. At this distance, one begins to notice wh at is maintained in memory a nd what one learned from looking at it from the first stage. At th is point, one begins to analyze a nd question elements from the city. This is the most critical stage due to the readi ng, analyzing and interpre ting of what one search for, identity and cultural value. It is here wh ere one becomes a historian, academic, theorist, and thinker. This is the stage where one opens its eyes without the older siblin gs having control of it. Returning to Puerto Rico. The third stage is the foot stag e. Here, one returns to the city after one has read, written, analyzed and studied the city one once occupied. Now, one walks the city and sees it differently. This new vision is due to the exploration of oneself away from it and now the understanding of ones purpose within th is urban culture. At this point, one starts transforming the information into art and most im portantly, into meaning. It is here when one uses all of your senses to better define hi s or her own meaning as an urban dweller. After understanding the city through these meta phors, compositions were created and an exhibition was designed to expose such. The exhib ition was crucial to the work because it was a tool to interaction betw een my work and the community. It was very important for me to see how people reacted to my work. Severa l considerations were taken in order to achieve an intimate experience between viewer and the work. In order to direct people from enjoying the pieces from afar and getting them to become intimate with them, I had to consider two senses, sight and touch. I did not want the viewer to see my work from a distance because I feel that culture must be experienced through immersion. To achieve that, I played with scale in order to attract attention to the viewer but also permit them to wa nt more in order to get closer and see the rest

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49 (Figure 9-4). This seemed to work exquisi tely. The second sense, touch, was tough to conceptualize. I wanted the viewer to desire to touch my work. I wanted the viewer to physically interact with culture so I debated on how I will achieve that and I seemed to get it from the texture of the paper where I printed my urban poe ms. I selected a dense, textured paper that accompanied with the historic typeface, gave the viewer a sense of time and place therefore triggering them to get closer and touch the piece. In the future, I hope to use the sense of smell and sound to further enhance the ex perience of my work. I feel th is is a good strategy to the way a designed the exhibition in order to not only grab the attention of the viewer but immerse them into this culture in order for them to absorb it. It sounds complicated but that was the only wa y I was able to reach an effective dialog on the urban culture of the landscape. I see this process (walking, driving and flying) as tools to understanding culture. There are plenty of ways researchers or even individuals might consider to understanding and learning about cultures. Many would do it through the study of paintings, sculptures, books, monuments, t ourist guidebooks, television, movi es, etc. I learned it by these three stages. Sure, some of the other elements were present in my unde rstanding of myself but for me, the city is the painting, sculpture, m onument and the book that contains chapters and chapters of information valuable to ones search of urban identity and culture. Creative Pieces The tangible result of the project was devel oped with great detail. There were different types of work produced for this project with the intention of enveloping as much of the city as possible. The first creative product was a set of poems that narrated memories, experiences, commentaries and passages about urban culture a nd the quotidian life (Fi gure 9-3). It was in these poems that I initially began to explore th e use of Goudy Text Re gular from Linotype and Filosofia Regular from migr. These typefaces were selected because they satisfied several

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50 criteria important to the body of work. Furthermor e, these typefaces represent me in my body of work. Their form and articulation are a direct representation of my life, character and personality. The blackletter repr esents my bold, aggressive and strength aspects and Filosofia represents my romantic, articulate, and contempo rary aspects. Through the use of both typefaces, I was able to begin encapsulating time into the pieces and permitted my perception to be manifested with the opportunity of being interpreted. They were the backbone of the entire body of work. These poems were the most crucial f acet of the project because they contained the substance of what I wanted to viewer to see. Looking at the poem in Figure 9-4, one can notice how the typography moves within the aperture Typography was used to evoke rhythm, pacing, and movement. That is the reason why one can obse rve that not all words and even letters, line up next to each other. This deci sion creates an irregular rhythm th at exists within the vernacular language of the street. Looking at a detailed imag e of the same poem (Figure 9-5) demonstrates the intentions closer. Notice how angles and proxi mity are arranged in order for it to be legible but at the same time, to convey a secondary message of space and order. When using Goudy, Notice how it not only depicts the colonial period but also to adds power, boldness, and weight the canvas. Its use allows for visual balance and ae sthetic interest. It als o, because of its density, allows the eye to move easier through the composition. Other examples also demonstrate the procedure (Figure 9-6 through 9-9). More than twenty poems were developed but only sixteen were exhibited. The poems were printed on a Kraft paper purchased at Neenah. Th is paper allows the pieces to maintain the vernacular aesthetic that was desi red for the exhibition. Through this material, one is able to detach the viewer from something that seems unt ouchable into an intimate and local piece that should be interacted with. Typogra phically, there was a need to expos e two realities, the colonial

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51 and contemporary. As explained before, Goudy Text Regular and Filosofia were chosen to depict their respective realities. The selection of typography allows th e viewer to observe that there is two time periods that exist within the compositi ons. The duality of time was very important due to its transparency in the urban landscape. The size was kept small in order to attract the viewer to get closer and read the poems. The next phase of the pieces was patterns. The significance of this facet of the work is visible though the way people live within the city. There are several things that are omnipresent in the city and people, through repetition, make it significant and assim ilate them into their quotidian life. Through this process, they become part of the urban culture. These patterns are symbols of the way we live in the city. They repr esents facets from cuisine, music, sports, etc. some of them seem obvious to all people and others seem unusual. Since many people only see few elements of this urban culture, these pa tterns manifest the common but also uncommon facets of this rich landscape. So me of the elements include the perpetual traffic jams, the thought of spending time on the beach, the craving of refresh ing ones thirst with a fresh fruit juice, the competition that drives us, and the presence of religion in our lives. These are just few of many patterns of the urban quotidian lif e. The pieces contain not only the pattern but also an image below it. This image allows the viewer to position place and symbol. The decision to include both came from a desire to manifest where the me mory visits and how it interprets images into developing symbols. Many di fferent images can trigger the memory to think of the same pattern, this is just one. These patterns will quickly trigger the sensory thoughts and provoke the viewer to imagine, feel, taste, hear and touch the cult ure (Figure 9-11). The pa tterns contained elements of the quotidian life, such as: vegetation, domestic animals, religious motifs, traffic jams, cultural events, and people (Figure 9-13). I wanted to show a little bit of everything in the vernacular

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52 rather than just making a set of fruits or so on. The elaboration of the patterns, besides its exposure of the quotidian, was to visualize it as a commercial print that could be applied to wall surfaces, fabric, and objects (Figure 9-15). Due to time and cost, the patterns were kept as samples on paper. The last facet of the creative project was the 20 b y 30 canvas of municipality poems (Figure 9-10). These compositions contained not only the poem but also imagery to accompany the writing. They depict memories and experiences with in the municipalities of the metropolitan area. Images had direct correlation with the wr iting. Under such a layered landscape, components of the city can be easily overlooked by locals and even more by foreigners. Every image captured had an elaborate amount of layers that were overwhelming to the poems. In order to magnify the strength of the compositions, a technique, which I call, singularization was utilized. This technique refers to the use of imagery in order to convey a targeted message. Since images were complex, by extracting just what is necessary from the image, one can focus the composition and the message (Figure 9-16). This method allows for subject focus and through this, a foreigner might be able to notice such subject when visiting the urban landscape in a future occasion. They helped accentuate the messa ge. These compositions expose the realities of a young man living in the city and the facets of growing in such complex urban setting. Typography is used to delineate message, time and rhythm. The poems lines are arranged according to the pace of the message. This would a llow the viewer to experience elements such as: intensity, density, dominance, passiveness, distance, proximity, movement and space. The poem permeates the negative space of the piece as if it is creating its own landscape. The language is written as the urban co lloquial language is util ized. This means that certain aspects of the pronunciation are omitted, accents are added or subtracted, and slang vocabulary is utilized.

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53 This decision was made in order to demonstrat e the origin, corruption and genuine elements of todays urban language. Typography size is varied in order to create intensity, focus and importance according to the messages. The pieces seem minimal but such minimalism allows the viewer to see what they need to see and nothing else. This creates interest in the images that are presented. It affords a sense of impact and shock due to the power of the images. This is once again called visual singularity. Th rough this technique, one is ab le to only expose what one desires the viewer to experience. The technique could be used to maximize the visual into the viewers memory in order for the viewer to be more prone to noticing th e subject if seen under such a layered landscape. This technique allows complete focus on the message and gave the compositions a clean, uniform aesthetic (Figure 9-2) A portion of the work was framed in order to further accentuate time and history. Whethe r all pieces will be framed has yet to be determined. All photographs, patterns, and municipa lity poems were printed with archival paper and ink in order to maximize its collectors value and preservation. Piece Descriptions In order to facilitate the use and interpreta tions of the pieces, here are some of the descriptions. The description is based on the artis ts perception through his life in and outside the urban perimeter in metropolitan Puerto Rico. Figure 9-10: These two compositions depict the importance of the haircut in a young mans life. The use of the gamecock is utilized to serve as a metaphor to what the young male lives in the city. In order to fi ght, the gamecock must not have its crest due to its fragile position and the possibility of bleeding to death. The im portance of the haircu t in a young mans life is just as crucial. Young males cut their hair every week to mainta in elegance in order to compete in the urban landscape. Just as the gamecock, there are people who have earned their reputation for preparing and breeding strong fowls. This do es not guarantee their vi ctory but in perception,

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54 it helps theirs odds. The young mans hair is also left to people that have earned a reputation for such task. Young males visit their respective mast ers to keep them elegant not only for the ladies but also for the men. The decision to include this facet of urban life is attributed its current importance in the urban culture. Whether it is in Puerto Rico, Ne w York, Orlando, Chicago, Puerto Rican males have an obsession with their haircuts and maintaining such elegance. Figure 9-11: This piece expos es one of many elements that are part of the urban quotidian life. The fortification of the fort is and will always be part of our history and the dominant use of avocado as part of our cuisine is just as important. In my household, avocado was eaten with white rice and it is part of my life as Puerto Ricos urban history. The image of the fort and beyond reminded me of the avocado b ecause of its beautiful green color. The excess of the color activated my memory into thinking of such side dish to any meal. My mother loved avocados and a strong memory of her will be he r obsession with eating plain white rice with avocado while she sat on her own to meditate. Figure 9-16: This poster raises a question that parallels with the metaphor of the gamecock. The question reads, What does a gam ecock that has lost many battles do? This speaks about not only the bums, but also any male in the city. The decision to using the bum was made because, visually, it portray s a sense of defeat and the b ody exposes such depreciation. The composition also answers many possibilities to what a multi-loosing gamecock does. It comments on results of strength, perseverance, weakness, addiction, spir ituality, labor, and confusion.

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55 Figure 9-1. blackletter, Goudy Text Regular, 2006 Figure 9-2. Filosofia, 2006 Figure 9-3. Urban poem. 4 x 12, 2006. Figure 9-4. Urban poem. 4 x 12, 2006.

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56 Figure 9-5. Urban poem. 4 x 12, 2006. Figure 9-6. Urban poem. 4 x 12, 2006.

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57 Figure 9-7. Urban poem. 4 x 12, 2006. Figure 9-8. Urban poem. 4 x 12, 2006.

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58 Figure 9-9. Urban poem. 4 x 12, 2006. Figure 9-10. Bayamn #1 and #2. 20 x 30, 2006.

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59 Figure 9-11. Aguacate pattern. 12 x 12, 2006.

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60 Figure 9-12. Aguacate detail, 2006.

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61 Figure 9-13. Patterns of urban culture. 12 x 12 each, 2006.

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62 Figure 9-14. Candelabro detail, 2006.

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63 Figure 9-15. Pattern details, 2006.

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64 Figure 9-16. El sabio, 20 x 30, 2006.

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65 Figure 9-17. El sa bio (detail), 2006.

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66 Figure 9-18. Ciudad de Carolin a (detail), 20 x 30, 2006.

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67 Figure 9-19. Residente, 20 x 30, 2006.

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68 Figure 9-20. Residente (detail), 2006.

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69 Figure 9-21. Carolina, 20 x 30, 2006.

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70 CHAPTER 10 IMPORTANCE OF WORK The discipline of design in the academic environments has been concerned with conceptualization and aesthetics. Not too often did I experience a drive into using the ability to conceptualize, problem solve and aesthetically develop elements into a drive of understanding cultures, society and people (Fig ure 10-1). It was not until I started my graduate studies in Graphic Design, that I began exploring my desire to use visual compositions to educate and help society understand culture through my work. The fi eld of Graphic Design is often viewed as a process of creating corporate identi ties in order to get money in re turn, but I feel that it could be used to help communities (wheth er academic or professional) to understand other cultures. As designers we create cultures and now that dive rsification is becoming global, the necessity of understanding cultures has become essential. Language itself se gregates the cultures, so do customs. But visual imagery can be absorbed by ev eryone and could be used as a tool to educate others on the life and conditions of places. The potential lies in using language, music and images to formalize and concretize ideas of cultu re and then expose them for others to see and absorb. My intention as a designer is to represent elements of my life in an innovative way. In doing such, facilitate others to better understand my culture th rough my experiences. As an academic I hope to show a thorough compilation of important elements that comprise the understanding of the urban culture of Puerto Rico but perhaps an example to be used when studying other cultures. The goal is to present the heterogeneous multi-temporal stages of identity that are and will always be presented in a modern urba n context. The final goal is to inspire others into learning about cu ltures in the discipline of design.

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71 Urban dialogues, is an important project in the field of graphic design (Figure 10-2, 10-3). The project exposes the trajector y one could experience in the process of understanding urban identity and culture. As the majority of the worl d turns urban for the firs t time in human history, we will need to be prepared to face the comple xities of this plural landscape. With this complexity comes an enormous confusion to how we perceive and understand others and ourselves. Graphic designers have an integral role in this moment in history. We shape messages through media and space and it is our responsibility to make sure that things have the capacity of being understood by others. Decoding information in the multiplicity of the urban landscape is a challenge and the necessity of fi nding the essence of ones cultur e is even more critical. For these reasons, I understand that urban dialogues is an important project to this field. This project also serves as an important step in my life as I know clearly understand the purpose my mother lived and died. She allowed me to see for myself, the light and the shadows of my beautiful home. Through this process, I was able to take my academic life into a different level and it opened the doors to my professional life for many years to come. It is my mission to utilize what I have learned to show others the reality of this complex phenomenon, the city. Through exhibitions, seminars, workshops, and wr iting, I hope to spread my knowledge to many people and many cultures. This is how society will benefit from my work, through the exposure of it. I hope my name one day is remembered as someone who loves his culture very much and that understood his place in it.

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72 Figure 10-1. Exhibition piece. 2006. Figure 10-2. Exhibition opening. April 17 of 2006.

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73 Figure 10-3. Exhibition opening. April 17 of 2006.

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74 CHAPTER 11 EQUIPMENT AND DOCUMENTATION In order to document I used the following tools: Sony DSC-717 digital camera at its highest resolution to capture vernacular images. 1GIG Memory Stick in order to be on th e field without loading images constantly. 256 MB Memory Stick just n case I ran out of space. Samsung Digital Camcorder to capture di alogues, music and sounds of the city. Apple Powerbook G4 to contai n and manipulate my data. Lacie External Hard Drive 180 to store of images and video. Adobe Photoshop CS2 Adobe Illustrator CS2 Adobe Indesign CS2 Final Cut Pro HD While in Puerto Rico, I took over 5,000 photogr aphs, over 10 hours of video footage which include personal interviews, city life, cockfightin g and collection of rou tinely things which are used in the quotidian life. I was mostly interested in places, things and people, which were part of my life in order to reach a genui ne representation of my identity. While in Puerto Rico, I always had my digita l camera and digital camcorder with me. That was not a problem since I commuted the island wi th a close friend or on my own. Most of the pictures I shot were taken from an unobtrusive location in order to capture an uninterrupted shot of quotidian life. Many shots were taken while m oving in the car, others while shooting it from a distance in which the subject c ould not realize I was there. This method was crucial to my research. Through this method, I acquired shots that depict behavior that is natural to the subject in the picture rather than a modeled shot.

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75 CHAPTER 12 CONCLUSION Puerto Ricos urban identity is more comple x that what I imagined. Even though I lived there for 16 years and continue to go back and vi sit, the multiplicity of the urban landscape is faster and more aggressive than what one can experience wholly. Th rough the process of unveiling certain aspects of this culture, I was ab le to realize the importance of this study not only to myself but also to the Latin Ameri can community, urban community and academic community. The great majority of the Latin Amer ican community was under the ruling of Spain for centuries. This occupation of land had an i mmense effect on how society is lived today. The complexity lies as time continues to disappear and we see ourselves renovating the past but yearning modernization. In a way, we want the new but are not willing to le t go of the past. This friction creates plurality in our urban backyard and develops a lack of understanding into how this chaos truly works and affects us. In the metropolitan area in Puerto Rico, everything is up for change. Everyone knows that it will happen but the question is not when but how will we change with it. We must be attentive and retentive of all things that were once standing or living. It is through th is that we learn about ourselves. The power of memory is the educatio n that can illuminate your future. Through this education, we will be participants into the development of stronge r units that will empower the mind, body and soul in order to make the city an organic experience generator. Even though this project had an academic term ination to accomplish a degree of Master in Fine Arts, it is a perpetual project that will be pa rt of me and of those close to me. The city needs to expose its experiences. We need to tell others because it is through that transaction that we learn and grow into better urban dwellers. It is through those transactions that we come together as a unit. Through this project, I have satisfied the dream of a mother but at the same time, I

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76 satisfied the need I had and was not aware of. Th e only thing left for me to do is what I share with every other urban dweller; not only in Puerto Rico but the rest of the urban world that is survival. It is through survival that one has the o pportunity to tell others the story. Therefore, I recommend everyone to desire the need to know stories from other urban dwellers that have been there longer than you. Through those stories, you will be stronger to fight and compete in this chaotic paradise that I ca ll urbe and you call city.

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77 LIST OF REFERENCES Almondoz, Arturo. 2000 Ensayos de Cultura Urbana. Fondo Editorial Fundarte. Bachelard, Gaston. 1964 The Poetics of Space. Translat ed by the Orion Press. (First Published in French in 1957.) Beauregard, Robert A. 1999 The Urban Mo ment. By Sage Publications, Inc. Cabrera, Gilberto. 1997 Puerto Rico y su Historia Intima Tomo 1. Hato Rey. Ramallo Bros. Printing, Inc. Caliban. Caliban: Apuntes sobr e la cultura en nuestra Amer ica, Mexico: Diogenes, 1971. (11527) Fernandez Retamar Cantz, Hatje Dr. 2002 Under Siege: Four Af rican Cities Freetown, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos Documenta 11_Platform4. Published by Hatje Cantz Publishers. De Hostos, Adolfo. 1966 Historia de San Juan Ciudad Morada. San Juan. Instituto de Cultura Puertorriquea. Del ensayo y El ensayo en su funcion soci al. Teoria de la cr itica y el ensayo en Hispanoamerica. La Habana: Editorial Academia, 1990. (pp. 109-11/113-15) Garcia Canclini, Nestor 1995 Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity. Translated by Christopher L. Chiappari and Sy lvia L. Lopez. Published by the Regents of the University of Minnesota. Montoya, Jairo.1999 Ciudades y Memorias. Editorial Universidad de Antioquia. Multiplicity 2003 USE: Uncertain St ates of Europe. Translated by Antony Bowden. Published by Skira Editore. Presupuestos de la identidad cultural iberoa mericana (pp.23-110). Identidad cultural de Iberoamerica en su narrativa. Madrid : Editorial Gredos, 1986. (Fernando Ainsa) Quiles, Edwin. 2003 San Juan: Tras la Fachada. San Juan. Editorial Instituto de Cultura Puertorriquea. Sennett, Richard 1970 The Uses of Disorder: Pe rsonal Identity and City Life. Published by Norton & Company, Inc. Sepulveda, Anibal. 1989 San Juan : Historia Ilustrada de su De sarrollo Urbano. Viejo San Juan. Centro de Investigaciones CARIMAR. Universidad de Guadalajara 2002 Reconstruccion del termino diseo: memorias del XI Congreso de Academicos de Escuelas de Diseo Grafico.

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78 Zijderveld, Anton C. 1998 A Theory of Urbanity : The Economic and Civil Culture of Cities by Transaction Publishers.

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79 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Ricardo Hernndez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1980. He lived in a metropolitan area of Puerto Rico where he at tended military school for nearly 12 years. He is the son of a teacher, social worker and single mother. Rica rdo spent most of his childhood surrounded by college students and university pr ofessors due to the f act that his mother worked at the biggest private university in Puerto Rico. The importan ce of education was inculcated since early age and the desire to go beyond an undergraduate degree was a dream to his mother. Within the family institution, Ricardo is the oldest of 3 ch ildren of Sandra Ruz. He has a younger brother who is 3 years apart and a sister who is 9 years apart. Since earl y age, he took on the responsibility to look after them since his mother at times, had to work multiple jobs in order to keep the family afloat and keep us enrolled in a costly military school. Ricardo moved to Florida in 1996 after his grandmother died and his mother made the decision in order to benefit the future of her child rens education. At the Univ ersity of Florida, he studied in the School of Design, Constructi on and Planning where he began by studying architecture and later graduate d with a bachelor in design fr om the Interior Design division. Upon graduation, he decided to attend Graduate School in order to expand his knowledge in design communication and language.


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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0017621/00001

Material Information

Title: Dialogo Urbano: Perceptions of Life, Language and Identity in Metropolitan Puerto Rico
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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DIALOGO URBANO: PERCEPTIONS OF LIFE, LANGUAGE AND
IDENTITY IN METROPOLITAN PUERTO RICO





















By

RICARDO HERNANDEZ


A PROJECT IN LIEU OF THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF FINE ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2007

































Copyright 2007

by

Ricardo Hernandez


































To my mother, Sandra Ester Ruiz Jimenez, for showing me what the word sacrifice truly means.









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to take a brief moment to thank several individuals that helped me through

this process. First and foremost, I want to thank God for giving me the strength and ability to

create such a meaningful project. He truly is omnipresent and omnipotent. Secondly, I want to

thank a woman who recognized my ability since my young age and gave everything in her power

to demonstrate her unconditional love for me and for what she believed in, my mother. Your

presence will always be with me and your departure will always sadden me. Mom, there is no

form or shape to really envelop what your life means to me and what your death demonstrates.

You are a hero to anyone that loves me because through me, they know you and because I want

to believe that I am just like you. I want you to know that I would have died for you as well.

Thank you for teaching me the value of a home, place, roots, education, self evaluation, family,

and God. I thank you for all the hard work and pain you went through in order for me to be

where I am today. I know this was not the way you wanted things to end but I know you

acknowledge that your mission was accomplished. I know you would be here if you thought I

was not ready to be the man that I am today. I wish I can continue writing to thank you for every

second you gave your children. I know you always came second to us and I am thankful now for

that because I know why you did it. This paper was your last dream before you died and I am

proud to say that I did this for you. In this way, I show you that like you did to me, I put you first

and myself second in order to reciprocate in some way or another the same devotion you showed

me. I know you are proud and not surprised by it. I know you want me to continue and I will do

so, eventually. I thank you and love you.

My academic progress and development is attributed to more than just gut, intuition, and

hard work; many thanks to all my professors who were patient with me in finding my voice in a

field that I was struggling because I was trying to be what I was not. To Brian Slawson, thank









you for recognizing what I truly loved and showing me the door to such a wonderful material of

knowledge and exploration. Your optimism and enthusiasm will always resonate with your

name. Maria Rogal, thank you for being tough and crude with me. I mean well by both terms.

You know that I appreciate tough love because I truly got better by it. I will always remember

your desire to better understand cultures and your passion for making me understand myself

better though my project. I know I am better because I met you and I also feel I write better

because you pushed me to articulate my work better. I wish we could have talked more, we could

have learned a lot from each other. Fiona Mclaughlin, you quietly entered my life but

aggressively shook it with your perspiration of love for what you do, which is really how you

live. Thank you for showing me how much I could learn about life through the study of language

and the city. It was you who truly sparked my project. I wish I had met you earlier but know I

hope to continue a relationship with you. I hope to learn much more from you. You told me it

was possible, you told me is was good enough, my sincere gratitude. I also want to thank Efrain

Barradas for being such an influence in my work. I measured my work by keeping in mind that it

had to please your mind and perhaps touch your heart. I hope longevity is the word that

describes my friendship with you. A special thank you to Hector Puig who allowed me to exhibit

in his gallery and through this process nurtured a friendship and mentorship. I admire you more

than you can imagine. Thank you to all the staff members who were supportive and responsive in

my graduate career.

To my classmates, thank you for being there when I lost everything. Special thanks to

Cameron Thomas. I really do not know what would be of me if you were not there. Honestly, I

love you like my brother and admire you like no other individual in my life. You are my friend

today and always. I will always hold you close to my heart. You saw the most emotions out of









me and that is special to me. I will truly miss having you around "gringo". To the rest of my

classmates, thank you for your voice and critique, it was integral to my work.

A very sincere and warm gratitude goes to the core network of people whom I call

family. You all know that family to me is more than just blood. I do not have to mention names

because you all know who you are. Thank you for being everything I needed in order for me to

be writing this at this moment. Your support was and still is crucial in my life. I love you all very

much. I want to specifically thank my brother, Roy and my sister, Raissa. I love you both very

much and that is also a gift from you to our mother. Your voices your lives, your pains and your

heart is in my work. I know how hard was for you both to go through this process alone and

collectively. I hope this was of your liking and I hope one day you will look back and see how

much of you guys is in my work. You guys kept me going and inspired me to search deeper

because I did this for all of us.

Last but not least, I would like to thank a woman that was there every minute of the

project, Jennifer Alier. My accomplishment is truly an attribute of your time, disposition and

support to my work and myself. You were and still are my best critic. You learned to evaluate

my work and myself better than anyone else. There is no way I can repay you for all that you

have done for me and my family, but I will surely try and die trying to. I love you more than any

words could articulate and your place in my life is perpetual. I thank you for everything. Thank

you for loving me the way you do. Your love maintains me strong. Your presence in my life

inspires me to reach for higher goals and bigger risks. Thank you and I love you.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A CK N O W LED G M EN T S .................................................................. ........... .............. .....

LIST OF FIGURES .................................. .. .... ... ...............8

A B S T R A C T ............................................ ...................................................... 10

1 IN TR O D U C TIO N ................. ............................ ............ ............... ........ 11

2 IN FLU EN TIAL BA CK GR OU N D ..................................... ............................... ..................... 13

3 TRAGEDY .........................................15

4 L O C A TIO N O F R E SEA R CH ......................................................................... .................. 17

5 URBAN COLONY .................. .................................... ........................... 22

P atrim onial F ou n dation ................................................................................ ......................22
C olony of M modernization .................................................................... ...............................23

6 FO R M O F A C ITY ......................................................... ................... .......... 26

7 M E A N IN G O F A C IT Y ............................................................................... .....................30

8 PARAM ETER S OF PR O JECT ............................................ ................... ............... 32

9 RESEARCH PROCESS AND METHODOLOGY............................................................39

R e se a rc h T o o ls ................................................................................................................... 4 1
T y p o g rap h y ................... ...................4...................2..........
A uthorship ...............................................................................44
U rban Creative A analysis (U CA ).................................................... ............................... 47
C re ativ e P ie c e s ................................................................................................................... 4 9

10 IM PO R TA N C E O F W O R K .......................................................................... ....................70

11 EQUIPMENT AND DOCUMENTATION......................................... ......................... 74

12 C O N C L U SIO N ........................................................................ ................... .. .............. .. 7 5

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ...................................................................................... ....................77

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ............................................................................... .....................79






7









LIST OF FIGURES

Figure page

3-1. Fam ily grave. Photograph, 2004 ...................................... .................... ................ 16

4-1. Metropolitan Area. Photograph manipulated to show area boundaries..........................20

4-2. City scene, Bayam6n. Photograph taken in July 2004................... ........................... 21

5-1. Street in Old San Juan. Photograph, 2004. ............................................ ............... 24

5-2. History of urban Puerto Rico. Artist Book, 2006. ................................. .................25

6-1. Group of young adults establishing a sense of identity. Photograph, 2004, Toa Alta......28

6-2. Fortified wall in Old San Juan. Photograph, 2003...........................................................29

8-1. Cockfighting in Las Palmas, Bayam6n. Photograph, 2003 ....................................34

8-2. Cockfighting in Las Palmas, Bayam6n. Photograph, 2003 ....................................35

8-3. Llorando y Sangrando (2006, 18" x 40") ...........................................................................36

8-4. Palm era pattern (2006, 12" x 18") ..................................................................... 37

8-5. A guacate pattern (2006, 12"x 12").............................................. ............................ 38

9-1. Blackletter, Goudy Text Regular, 2006.................................... ........................... ......... 55

9 -2 F ilo so fi a 2 0 0 6 ............................................................................................................. 5 5

9-3. U rban poem 1 (2006, 4" x 12")................................................. .............................. 55

9-4. U rban poem 2 (2006, 4" x 12") ................................................................................... 55

9-5. U rban poem 3 (2006, 4" x 12") ................................................................................... 56

9-6. U rban poem 4 (2006, 4" x 12") ................................................ .............................. 56

9-7. U rban poem 5 (2006, 4" x 12")................................................. .............................. 57

9-8. U rban poem 6 (2006, 4" x 12")................................................. .............................. 57

9-9. U rban poem 7 (2006, 4" x 12")................................................. .............................. 58

9-10. Bayam 6n 1 and 2 (2006, 20" x 30") ...................................................... ............... 58

9-11. Aguacate pattern (2006, 12" x 12") ...................................................... ..................59



8









9-12. Aguacate detail, 2006.................... ...................... .......... 60

9-13. Patterns of urban culture (2006, 12" x 12" each) .................................... ............... 61

9-14. C andelabro detail, 2006. .......................................................................... .....................62

9-15. Pattern details, 2006...................... ...................................63

9-16. E l sabio (2006, 20" x 30") ............................................................................ ............. 64

9-17. El sabio (detail), 2006. ..................................................... ............ 65

9-18. Ciudad de Carolina, detail (2006, 20" x 30") ........................................ ............... 66

9-19. R esidente (2006, 20" x 30")........................................................................ ..................67

9-20. R esidente (detail), 2006. .......................................................................... .....................68

9-2 1. C arolina (2006, 20" x 30") ........................................................................ ...................69

10-1. Exhibition piece, 2006 ........................................ .... .. ..... .............. .. 72

10-2. Exhibition opening, close-up view (April 17, 2006)............................... ............... 72

10-3. Exhibition opening (April 17, 2006) .................................. ............... ............... 73









Summary of Project Option in Lieu of Thesis
Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Master of Fine Arts

DIALOGO URBANO: PERCEPTIONS OF LIFE, LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY IN
METROPOLITAN PUERTO RICO

By
Ricardo Hernandez
May 2007

Chair: Brian Slawson
Major Department: Art and Art History

This creative project explores my perception of the urban landscape of the metropolitan

area in Puerto Rico. Since its discovery by the Spanish, San Juan has always been primarily

urban and it is this density that has defined the way we are today. This urbanity has affected our

language, cuisine, music, architecture, and entire way of life. It has also molded me as an

individual, artist, student, and citizen. My objective in this research project is to expose the

urban, and other, realities that live within me through writing and visual memories. It also

attempts to depict several urban conditions in which exist in the metropolitan area today.

In order to begin my explorations, I, collected from imagery that belonged to my family for

generations and as well as that which I collected during my visits and life in Puerto Rico. This

auto-ethnographic technique accentuates my perception of life in the city (this being the

metropolitan area of Puerto Rico). Through a process of collection, analysis, and evolution, I

emphasized poetry and cockfighting- the latter a metaphor for being a man in the city. Through

these I filtered then transformed the content and visual product of my creative work. It became

the threshold between my past, my present and my future. The connections between my imagery

and poetry are an attempt to better understand not only myself but the complexity of Puerto

Rican identity in an urban setting.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

As a young child I vividly remember the streets, establishments, intersections, and

neighborhoods that composed my landscape. My mother never told me this was my home but I

subconsciously felt it was due to my vast knowledge of it. It was recently when I realized that

what I called home was not necessarily those elements that shape the landscape. Home was truly

the fusion of people, food, music, language, experiences and education I received while living in

the Metropolitan Area of Puerto Rico. It was such things that afforded me to be comfortable in

the landscape, therefore calling it home.

Through my eyes, I absorbed body expressions, architectonic language, violence,

compassion, love, hate, fashion, consumerism, and language; generally everything that which

constitutes culture. At that point in my life, I absorbed culture but did not necessarily understand

how it was affecting me. I do not think my mother knew either. Nevertheless, life in the city was

a challenge everyday. As I got older, my knowledge grew with the city and its inevitable

changes. This is how culture grew in me. Today, I look back at my life in my homeland and

analyze every path I took and every new path I take. I look at the construction of my culture as a

dweller, visitor, academic and designer. In order to define what today's complexity of urban

identity constitutes, an analysis and description of the history of urban Puerto Rico must be

established. It is through this depiction that one can truly begin to understand the place that today

defines Puerto Rican urban culture and the complexity of its identity.

It took a tragedy in my life in order for me to question and self reflect what I have been

through. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and an appointment was made with her

death, I decided that if anyone knew more about me was she and I needed to seek for answers. I

did not expect her to answer all the questions but I knew she understood where I was coming









from. My desire to look for meaning was crucial since the weight of the family now rested upon

my weak shoulders. Through countless conversations and many tears, I began realizing that as

Socrates says, "the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." If I lived there for so

long and I continuously visited, why did I feel I knew less now than yesterday? It seemed that

there was a problem with translation. My mother decoded the experiences differently and as I

child, I decoded things according to how my mother molded those experiences. Therefore, my

mother directly influenced the language I knew. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but in

order for me to find or at least attempt to find the meaning of my culture, I needed to experience

the place for myself and understand those experiences I lived through my mother. This

experience developed a new language that I was unaware of and a language my mother would be

proud of. It is the voice of a dweller, historian, visitor, academic, designer and most importantly,

of a citizen of the Puerto Rican urban culture that wants to help his community in some unique

way even if it is through the exposure of my work as a designer or writer.









CHAPTER 2
INFLUENTIAL BACKGROUND

The desire to venture into the exploration of urban and cultural identity arises from a

disciplined past. I am the son of a teacher- Sandra Ruiz. My mother worked at the Interamerican

University of Puerto Rico; this is the biggest private university in the island. Ever since I can

remember, she used to take us to her office and we would play around chemistry labs,

mathematic classrooms and computer laboratories. We were always surrounded by adults and in

this case, academics and students. While most kids were playing outside in their neighborhoods,

we spent a great deal of time inside classrooms listening and doing academic assignments. We

didn't seem to mind. As my mother taught class, I would be sitting down with math professors

doing homework in order to be ahead of my class. The university was my domain and everyone

knew us around campus. The desire to be in school and learn was instilled by my mother since

early age. Furthermore, if being in a university doing homework and extra academic work was

not enough, my mother enrolled my siblings and I into military school, Lincoln Military

Academy in Guaynabo. Ever since I was 5 years old, I attended this school. It was a very

demanding and highly disciplined institution. We were observed at all times to make sure that

not only behavior but also appearance was met since we used military uniforms. As you can see,

discipline was a big part of my childhood. I spent my days studying and going to church since

my family was heavily into church attendance. This was pretty much my life for about sixteen

years. When I turned 16, my mother decided to move to the US in order for us to pursue a better

education. This decision came very abruptly and really impacted our lives. Not only did I had to

move from the only place I had ever known but I had to do it in a blink of an eye. My mother had

planned to move but decided not to tell us until the last moment. I left my home, my lifetime

friends, and everything else I knew to that point for a new life where I had no opinion in the









decision process. I was upset but I knew my mother was always a smart woman and that her

decision in our lives had a positive purpose to them.

Once I arrived in Florida, I found myself immersed in a new culture that constituted new

language, different ethnic cultures, new architectonic expressions, basically everything new. It

was a rough transition. I found myself displaced since I did not find a common denominator with

other peers. I truly could not find meaning to my mother's decision. It was not until I went to

college at the University of Florida that I found out what that purpose was. At the university, I

found my passion for space and language. I studied Interior Design as an undergraduate and was

fascinated with space and place. I manifested my passion through academic assignments but it

wasn't until a visit I had to Puerto Rico that I noticed that I was seeing my old home differently.

This visit took place in 2001, 5 years after I moved. I started analyzing space, language, place,

objects and so on. This was why my mother made that decision. She knew I was going to acute

my senses once being away from what I used to know for so long. This desire grew into my

decision of studying in Graduate School.

My interest in graphic design graduate school began late junior year of college. At that

point, I found myself manifesting spaces very differently from other classmates. I found myself

interested in typography, color, imagery and presentation as much as the space itself. Once I

began studying in graduate school, I saw the threshold between the two in my life. What one

field did for me in a macro scale, the other one did it in a micro scale. I was able to explore a vast

field of landscape and translate it into meaning. I fell in love with that communication between

space and individual. Nevertheless, I still had not found what I really wanted to do for my

creative project. It took a tragedy for me to realize what the purpose truly was.









CHAPTER 3
TRAGEDY

In November of 2003, during my first year of Graduate School, my mother was diagnosed

with brain cancer. At that moment, I had no idea on what to do next now that my mother was

facing a terminal disease. It was shocking. My mother never had a cold, never felt any physical

pain. She was truly strong. She worked three jobs to keep us afloat and still had time to spend

with us and joke around the house while doing typical Puerto Rican dishes. On the other hand, I

felt lost, powerless, and looking for answers I knew I was not going to get. My entire life flashed

across my eyes. The disease did not stop my mother from telling me to stay in school and go

through it while staying in track to graduate. It was a painful experience and one that I do not

wish on anyone. How to decide whether to leave or stay knowing the only person who cared for

me needed me to care for her.

A lot of changes occurred through this situation but the pivotal time in my life came when

my mother passed away with brain cancer (Figure 3-1). Even though it took nearly a year for her

to pass away since she was diagnosed, the reality was harder than the process. When she passed,

I truly immersed myself into writing and photography. I wanted to capture anything that caught

my eye or came across my mind; this became my therapy in some way or another. I wanted to

encapsulate things, people, places, etc. anything that had a tie between my mother and I. I felt as

if this process would allow me to find not only myself, but my mother as well. I guess that

having my mother gone, I figured that I needed to learn and know about myself since I had

nobody else to assist me in the process. It was truly an amazing process, which I will unveil

further in later chapters. But there was one thing that truly I was not prepared for and this was the

role change that occurred in my life. After my mother was unable to care for herself, I found

myself taking on the roles of a father, a mother, a brother, a friend, to a 14-year-old girl in a









sensitive time in her life. My sister's question of identity started not only because of her age as

an adolescent, but also because the mother that molded her life was not there anymore. It was

now my turn to help her find out what her roots are and how she can identify herself not only to

her family but also to herself. It was important to return to Puerto Rico in order for her to see it

from her own eyes and my eyes as well; this how the process of documentation began.


Figure 3-1. Family grave. Photograph, 2004.









CHAPTER 4
LOCATION OF RESEARCH

My investigative work takes place in the Metropolitan Area of Puerto Rico. This area is

composed of the municipalities of San Juan, Bayam6n, Guaynabo, Catafio, Can6vanas, Caguas,

Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto and Carolina (Figure 4-1). Nearly 3 million inhabitants

commute or dwell in this area everyday. The importance of this area in today's contemporary

landscape is vital not only to the local community of Puerto Rico but the global fabric as well.

The impact of this metropolitan area is evident through our economy, tourism, leisure activities,

scholarly institutions and vernacular networks. The area seems to be an organism that grows and

changes without any predetermined plan even though governmental institutions would say

otherwise. While occupying the landscape, one feels the disorder, the chaos and multiplicity of

living, people and culture. Now that I am away from its physical space but so close to it through

my research, I understand what Richard Sennett calls "learning from chaos."

Let it be clear that I do not believe that Puerto Rican culture is only what happens within

the metropolitan area but it does have an impact on how Puerto Rican culture is perceived due to

its magnitude of dwellers. My investigative work looks at the complexity of Puerto Rican urban

identity; its constituents within the main land and the impact away from it. There are other urban

agglomerates in Puerto Rico, the most recognized being in Ponce, Mayaguez and Arecibo but the

intensity of the island's urban population is in the metro area. What Sennett calls chaos is the

area of interest in my investigative and creative work. Due to this vast urban proximity, we

cannot overlook the effect it has in shaping the island's culture and cultural perception. Puerto

Rico is 74 percent urban and 71 percent of that urban population lives in the metro area. What

the world is now shifting to, urban majority has been the mode of living in Puerto Rico for quite

a while. The ratio of dwellers in the landscape places Puerto Rico in the Latin American urban









primacy model, even though Puerto Rico is at times not considered part of Latin America.

Nevertheless, the ratio and the island's history determines how closely connected it is to other

Latin American cities. The population numbers are reflected in the latest US census.

Urban primacy is the empirical distribution of city populations in a territory. In Latin

America, this model is reflected through the biggest city (the capital) being bigger in population

than the next three cities combined. In this model, we are looking at San Juan and Bayam6n as

one unit. The model is a direct reflection of its history. It reflects the power the Spanish colonial

municipalities had over their hinterlands as proposed by Fernando H. Cardoso in his book, the

city and politics. The effects of this model are highly complex and it encompasses the economy,

social and cultural stability of Latin American communities not only to themselves but also as

part of a global community. Through this, I merely wanted to establish a foundation to my

investigative work and its effect in the premises beyond a personal decision and more in an

academic platform.

If one looks at some of the largest metro areas in the Americas, Mexico is #2 and Chicago

is #7, whereas San Juan-Bayam6n is #59. By looking closer into these areas, one will notice that

San Juan-Bayam6n has the least land per square kilometer and it has the most density per square

kilometer. What this means is that even though Mexico City is one of the biggest Megalopolis of

the world, the San Juan-Bayam6n area is denser than Mexico City. It is an impressive fact and

one that I really wanted to explore. Cities are usually looked at through their volume, being the

numerical value given to describe its population in number but they are rarely looked at in its

density model. This involves looking at the city through its mass, being the usable space and its

volume being its dwellers. This means that water must be omitted since it is not a usable mode of

living at this moment. This is the reason why the San Juan- Bayam6n area is considerably the









densest area in the Americas. Even though I did not develop my thesis with extensive statistical

charts and mathematical models, the area is magnificent in human interaction and cultural value.

The population of the metropolitan area and the proximity of its dwellers contain an immense

impact on its identity and it cannot be overlooked. The metropolitan area's edge seems to

continue growing due to advances in roads and transportation engineering. It is empirical to

observe and document the value of what at times is overlooked because it is not a monument

made of marble or stone or considered a major tourist attraction. Our innate culture is what we

live not merely what establishes a sense of pride with the culture that lived before us. The city is

our contemporary monument to the other generations that will follow us (Figure 4-2). The more

we understand, study and value it; the generations after us will be able to care for it.



















































Figure 4-1. Metropolitan Area. Photograph manipulated to show area boundaries.


Li-;a




































Figure 4-2. City scene, Bayamon. Photograph taken in July 2004.









CHAPTER 5
URBAN COLONY

The colonial city of San Juan was a confrontation of an urban vision that disregarded

topography and local culture. The condition of today's San Juan and its outskirt cities contain a

blueprint of what was done by the Crown over five hundred years ago. This blueprint is more

than just spatial; it has shaped the culture of today's contemporary landscape. In order to begin

understanding today's urban environment in the San Juan metro area, we must first be aware of

how it was founded and shaped in its colonial times (Figure5-1).

A Patrimonial Foundation

Puerto Rico's documented urban history began in the early 1500's as the Spanish arrived

to the New World. An abundance of this information is in the form of writings of oral accounts

done by the Spaniards when they arrived and oral accounts that have traveled through

generations through coplas. Coplas are simply oral accounts told by the local community and

carried through generations. This method of history telling was developed due to the constraints

the early urban dwellers had because some were illiterate and the rest were not allowed to read.

Either way, the Spanish felt that through education came power, so its was forbidden. Another

factor to Puerto Rico's poor urban history was due to the Dutch attacks in the late 1500's. Puerto

Rico's first discovery resulted in an exploratory trip with no intention of occupying the land. In

the second voyage though, the Spanish occupied Puerto Rico with the intention of staying there

and establishing power. Entering land, they encountered an indigenous population, Tainos, who

belonged to Arawak group. It is believed that the Tainos received Juan Ponce de Leon well. It is

believed that this positive welcoming had to do with the perception the Tainos had of these

visitors being sent from their gods. This was also true of other indigenous populations in Latin

America and North America. They might have felt that instead of conquistadores, they were gifts









or messengers from theirs gods. It is here that urban composition begins to appear in the Puerto

Rican landscape. In order to gain control of the land and the Tainos, they had to urbanize. By

delineating the land, they started defining their power onto the landscape. This would assist them

in gaining control over the Tainos and ultimately decimating them. At this time, the process of

urbanization began with full force and their cultural behaviors began to transform the identity of

the city. The city was fortified, the streets were narrow, the roads were paved in stone and the

scale began to move upwards. The city was a place to parade the street in order to be seen and

look for a spouse. It was a place, of what the Spanish would call, gentiles, noble men and noble

women (Figure 5-2).

Colony of Modernization

Today, Puerto Rico's metropolitan area is a rich landscape of culture, architectonic

manifestations and rich historic monuments. Even though the metropolitan area has continually

grown, the government has made the effort to maintain its Spanish built monuments intact by

protecting them and preserving them. By doing such, the Puerto Rican community is able to see

and feel their pride through these monuments. This has also helped immensely in tourism. The

metropolitan area is truly an aggressive mixture of patrimony and modernization. Even though

our physical tie to the Crown was over in 1898 through the Spanish-American War, we still feel

like a colony being a commonwealth of the United States. This political position will maintain

Puerto Rico being a colony through modernization. This creates a fragile state in the

community's understanding of identity and culture.







































Figure 5-1. Street in Old San Juan. Photograph, 2004.






































Figure 5-2. History of urban Puerto Rico. Artist Book, 2006.









CHAPTER 6
FORM OF A CITY

Old San Juan, like many other Latin American cities, contains straight streets that intersect

each other in right angles. This composition delineates an orthogonal grid called squares. The

square, appropriated from the Greeks was then mastered by the Romans and began to spread

throughout Europe. This form is very practical and easy to construct. This method was widely

used throughout Latin America and Europe. The empty space of one of these squares is the

plaza, and its relationship to the streets and the squares is clearly determined by itself (Teran,

2002.) This architectural void becomes the space for social congregation, thus becoming the

most active communal space. This simple composition is repeated continuously and it becomes a

signature of the Latin American city. Like discussed before, it has similarities to other cities in

Europe but the rigidity of San Juan is only similar to other Latin American cities such as Baeza,

Puerto Real and Santa Fe. This spatial manifestation is still part of the Old San Juan.

Just as in Europe, the occupation of Puerto Rico was a conscious effort of expressing

power and domination over the existing culture and landscape (Quiles 2003). This remark is

clearly established in the Law XXIV ofFelipe II in the 137th Ordinance:

"... que cuando los indios los vean les cause admiracion y entiendan que los espafioles

pueblan alli de asiento y os teman y respeten, para desear su amistad y no los ofendan"

Through this ordinance, the Spanish Crown incites the admiration of the tainos. They want

to demonstrate that they were occupying the space and that it was theirs, therefore, inciting fear

in the tainos so they would respect and submit to their rules. Due to this aggressive occupation

technique, the Crown overlooks all the mistakes they were making in the process. They were not

the best planners but they surely were great intimidators. It was not until the Law of the Indies

that a process develops to control the growth of cities. Nevertheless, by the time the Law of the









Indies comes in the year 1573 and establishes the criteria to these parcels, San Juan is already

taking form and the mistakes are already in place. Amongst all forms in the city, the Spanish

inculcate the importance of two elements, the street and the plaza as part of the quotidian life.

Spaniards use the outdoor spaces to flaunt their riches and be seen by others. This is how men

met women and men discussed business. This could be a direct determinant of the Latin

American and Caribbean fascination with the outdoor landscape.

A brief depiction of the colonial city establishes a sense of origin to what today's urban

landscape is. A tie to the colonial city still remains and even though some of it has been damaged

through modernization, the core of the city still remains. The footprint of the colonial city allows

us to depict that we come from somewhere and someone, whether that has positive or negative

implications to our history, its existence permits our mortality (Figure 6-1). This demonstrates

how the metropolitan area truly depicts a binary urban landscape, the colonial and contemporary.

I include this portion of the history in my creative project due to the importance the Puerto Rican

population places onto these monuments of the initial colonial city. The attachment to these

monuments comes to no surprise and it should not surprise you either (Figure 6-2). We all yearn

the belonging of something and someone else; it is part of our nature.



















_. ?i


Figure 6-1. Group of young adults establishing a sense of identity. Photograph, 2004, Toa Alta.





































Figure 6-2. Fortified wall in Old San Juan. Photograph, 2003.









CHAPTER 7
MEANING OF A CITY

The rich meaning of the city lies not only in the diversity of people who occupy it but also

in form--where the knowledge of possibilities that the centrality and simultaneity-in form of

Lefebvre- offers (Almandoz, 2000). What this passage refers to is the dialogue that occurs in the

city between the dwellers and the city's built environment. Together, it creates a core of

interaction that enriches its existence. One cannot exist without the other so the form is truly the

simultaneity of both. It is the stories of those who inhabit the city that gives color to the culture.

But what happens when one leaves and a void is placed upon the landscape and the

memories that once composed one's life?

The void leaves a map of images that one yearns to return and unveil in order to bring

meaning to the urban culture that the process of modernization has transformed. It is simply a

process of filling in the blanks that once were filled but displacement has blurred them. Once one

is ready to refill the blanks, once notices the possibility of filling in with different words from

those one once had. It is inevitable, we change and the city changes. What it meant before now

contains a different meaning.

An important part of the memories are kept in the interiors, in the spaces behind the facade

(Quiles 2003). In the book, Tras lafachada (Behind the Facade), Edwin Quiles talks about the

spatial qualities of these memories. He explains them as architectonic manifestations but I see

them as emotional constructs to these memories. The same process in which modernity erases

the landscape through "renovation" or transformation, the memory erases it as well but when you

are displaced from this landscape prior to modernization, your memory is kept in the time when

you occupied it. These memories, as Quiles says, must be brought to the surface because they

represent the ways in which "others" lived the process of being in the city. This is what indeed









constructs a community. The experiences compose the city in which I lived and continuously

visit. This process is only possible through the action of living and leaving.

My creative manifestation of the city occurs through living in the city, leaving the city and

then returning to it in order to analyze what you have learned away from it. This is where

writing, photography, composing and reading become integral facets on the exploration on urban

identity. This is where the metaphor of the car, the plane and the foot transforms one's life in the

search for meaning in the urban setting. Further information on these metaphors will be

discussed in a later chapter.









CHAPTER 8
PARAMETERS OF PROJECT

The creative project involves the exploration of identity and culture through auto-

ethnographic research in order to understand a complex cultural identity. Its goal is to allow

people to see the power of memory and the process of understanding cultural identity, even if the

viewer is foreign to the culture. Works on the fields of anthropology, ethnography, graphic

design, architecture, urban design, photography and linguistics, were studied in order to arrive to

this stage of completion to my creative project. All of the work in this project was written and

documented by me and it exposes the perception of my experiences in Puerto Rico's urban

landscape. It was crucial for me to understand what the culture meant to me first before assuming

how others live and experience it. Whether anyone else feels this is the appropriate way to

understand and analyze cultural identity is up to the individual. I found that this method allowed

me to understand the city beyond its governmental patrimonies.

I also paid particular attention to the event of cockfighting (Figure 8-1). The decision to

document and study it was due to the strong connection the local culture has with it.

Cockfighting is considered to be the national sport of Puerto Rico and I was interested in seeing

how this patrimonial event plays a role in how we see and understand ourselves as Puerto Ricans

(Figure 8-2). By creating a metaphor between a how a gamecock is raised and prepared to fight

in the cockpit and the process of growing into manhood in the city, I was able to create a stronger

connection to my exploration of cultural urban identity. Understanding comes with maturity and

experiences. The more you experience the city, the better you should understand it. In this

manner, the process of maturity from boyhood to manhood relates to the process a gamecock, as

it is developed to fight in the cockpit. My goal was to develop a narrative about my experiences

in the city through images, poetry, patterns, and music as I expose the city and cockfighting









(Figures 8-3, 8-4). In figure 8-3, I present a collage that depicts the intensity of the city. My

intention was to demonstrate elements of the city that annoy its dwellers but we have learned to

live with. This particular piece, comments on how the population of the metropolitan area is

perpetually bleeding and crying from the intense competition that is created by the over

populated area. In figures 8-4 and 8-5, I developed pattern extracted from elements of the city

that resonate with memories of my childhood. This collection demonstrates that even ones

memory has the power to communicate and educate others on cultural values. The development

of pieces truly became a plural tool of visual communication. It satisfied my journey to find

myself and through that, also exposing my culture to other in order for them to see what urban

culture is in the metro area of Puerto Rico. My work overarches themes of density, violence,

love, competition, and cuisine, which are global facets of urban culture but I depict it with my

local textures, language and imagery.

My overarching question is: how can one investigate and appropriately expose cultural

identity in an academic perspective while attaining a fine art product in order to place it back as a

cultural artifact?

Also, how can I revive the reality of the outside world as a dimension of visual experience?

Other questions that complemented my exploration of urban culture where:

What is urban culture?

What elements complement Puerto Rican urban culture?

What is the relationship between a gamecock and a man?

Is there one Puerto Rican urban culture?






































gure 6-1. LIocKIlgnnng in Las raimas, iayamon.




































Figure 8-2. Cockfighting in Las Palmas, Bayamon. Photograph, 2003.












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Figure 8-3. Llorando y Sangrando. 18" x 40", 2006.


































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Figure 8-4. Palmera pattern. 12" x 18", 2006.












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Figure 8-5. Aguacate pattern. 12"x 12", 2006.









CHAPTER 9
RESEARCH PROCESS AND METHODOLOGY

The desire to further explore my initial creative proposal was the acknowledgement of a

lack of identity in my life. Regardless of one's life within a specific culture, usually there is a

disconnection to what the reality of one's purpose due to the proximity one is to that culture. At

times, it is beneficial to step backwards and see from afar the constituents of that culture in order

to better understand it. Once distance is established, whether be physical, mental, emotional or

all, one must understand what kind of design research is involved in the project. Many

individuals and schools have attempted to define what design research is, most notably, Laszl6

Moholy-Nagy from the Bauhaus, Dreyfuss, and Frayling in the early 1990's. In its most recent

definition design research is identified in three modes: research into design, research through

design, and researchfor design (Laurel 2003.) Research into design refers to the historical and

aesthetic value of the content. Research through design refers to the project, materials and its

development. Lastly, research for design refers to the purpose to create and then display the

research and prove its value. The last one is by far the most difficult to attain, but one that I feel

was attained with this creative project. Therefore, the sense of emptiness for not knowing the

"into" and the "for" of the design of what I had lived, permitted me to seek for answers or

perhaps raise other questions. The exploration of oneself in the urban landscape can lead to a

compilation of ideas, theories and discoveries of not only the individual but also the

agglomeration of people that occupy a cosmopolitan area. Design research is anything but

traditional, and in my project, I needed to practice more than one model in order to reach a level

of not only completion but also authenticity. It is the authenticity, in my opinion, what adds the

"for" of the creative project. From focus groups, participatory methods and ethnography, the

project involved many facets but there was one that was uncontrollable, the city. Due to the









city's perpetual change and its unpredictable transformation, the project contained a sense of

adaptation and organic growth that was not foreseen from its initial conception. It was that

organic quality that permitted the project's authenticity to some degree. The same organic

growth allowed me to change with the project. The process of individual and project

transformation came at the same time.

The urban culture of Puerto Rico is too plural to magnify. What this means is that every

individual will manifest and articulate its essence differently. Due to this plurality, a decision

was made to further explore my own culture within this urban context. This allows a level

intimacy and unfiltered perspective to the culture. This auto-ethnographic research required the

observation of things, people, places, language, and many other elements that subconsciously or

consciously, I have participated in or with, but not necessarily realized the role it had in shaping

my culture. Initially, memories became data but those were not substantial enough to make

project credible as a study of urban identity. In order to connect people to place, time, language,

etc. something must be more direct than just words. This tool must be visual and when combined

with words, the understanding of culture will be clearer. For this reason, photography became the

catalyst to this metropolitan culture. It is difficult to depict the complexity of the metropolitan

area in Puerto Rico due to its vast plurality in space, language, and imagery. The city crosses

itself like a hammock's fabric suspended by two trees. The metropolitan area is not clearly

ordered and it is difficult to explain and describe, that is the reason why photography became

such an integral element. Through countless photographs, an urban area was exposed with its

countless realities and the manifestation of its plurality was magnified.

The research process and methodology is worthless if the project did not contain a sense of

authenticity. That is the reason that all work (writing, photography, collage, etc) was done by me.









No footage and data was used other than my own in order to produce my creative outcome. This

was only possible through participating in the ethnographic research. This decision was made

after reading and agreeing with the practices and techniques of ethnography in and outside

academia. By understanding that ethnographic accounts are descriptive and interpretive (Laurel

2003,) only my own culture seemed to be the only thing I felt prepared to depict. Realizing that

culture is lived, my visual qualitative (photos, video, observation, artifacts, material collection)

and verbal qualitative data (oral histories, interviews) become essential to the authenticity. This

gathering of data can take years of intensive fieldwork and at times it is unsuccessful because it

is considered that the researcher needs to, as Tim Plowman mentions in his article "Ethnography

and Critical Design Practice, become accepted as a "natural" part of the culture or context under

study. This was my advantage in the exploration the urban culture. As a natural of the island and

more specifically the metropolitan area, my presence causes no negative impact in my interaction

with any of its elements therefore increasing the likelihood of the accounts being part of the

natural environment. Establishing such comfort, the experience becomes a matter of creating a

dialogue between the internal manifestation (time and memory) and external component (place).

The importance of both narratives was integral to the understanding of this complex landscape.

The purpose was not necessarily for the viewer to fully understand or become an expert in the

culture; it was merely an exploration in which I hope individuals will be able to notice the

complexity and richness of this metropolitan area. If the viewer became aware of this plurality of

time and space and began questioning his or her own identity within an urban landscape, my

project could be considered a success.

Research Tools

Photography was taken of certain aspects of urban life, these being: the street, intersection,

dwellers, transportation, fashion, language, architectonic forms that depict time of construction









and periods, etc. Clearly, the magnitude of photographic collection was vast. The idea behind

this was to cover multiple elements that coexist within one photograph if taken afar and focus on

some of them if taken closer. By doing such, I was able to begin analyzing the connection to

myself, as a dweller of the area, and the connection people have being residents of an urban

landscape whether you are from there or not. This process ended with thousands of photos to

look at and analyze prior to fragmenting them into categories to better locate them in the creative

process. From there, categories were established in order to quickly delineate their location and

content. Some of these categories were: place, people, food, nature, city, transportation, specific

events, miscellaneous, and memories. The categories could have been anything. The individual

doing the research defines the process of categorizing. It is merely a step to facilitate and

economize time while searching through them.

Video was also captured within different urban scenes and events. The footage would act

as data that could be reviewed once out of the metropolitan area. This was important because it

was able to capture audio as well. Through this, there was less note taking and more of just

participating in the environment unobtrusively. Among the footage, personal conversations,

social interactions, stranger's conversations, city noise, natural sounds, etc were captured

through this tool. This method also allowed for observation of behavior and the built

environment.

Typography

The history of urban Puerto Rico is assembled by two major colonizing periods: the

Spanish and the Commonwealth. These two periods contain their respective importance in

history and their effect in our Puerto Rican urban culture is clearly defined. In order to

expressively signify their importance in Puerto Rico's urban identity, it was vital to clearly

define these two periods in the body of work. It is here where typography becomes a strategic









tool to not only to visually render the message but also stylistically represent these two dominant

periods of Puerto Rico's history. Through typography one is able to communicate more than

message; it has the potential of enveloping elements of place, time, power, and culture.

Understanding the potential, my body of work revolves around writing. The writing exposes not

only messages but also the character of the pieces through its typographic compositions.

From research, several typefaces were selected to further enhance the creative project. One

typeface would be a blackletter and the other one a contemporary serif. Blackletter, also known

as Gothic script, was a script used throughout Western Europe from 1150 to 1500. This script

allows me to quickly position the viewer in a place and time, therefore efficiently delineating the

importance of the Spanish colonial period. Even though a specific style or type of blackletter was

not defined in Spain, it is concluded that blackletter, spread throughout Europe quickly.

Countless documents demonstrate the use of blackletter as authentic and official documents. The

blackletter textura, which is the style of Goudy TextTM Regular, was widely used by the Romans.

This is one of the reasons why I selected this typeface. The Spanish culture was heavily

influence by the Romans since the Roman Empire occupied what today is Spain. Furthermore,

religion, Roman Catholic, became Spain's main religion and to this day, Catholicism is the

predominant religion, not only in Spain but also in Latin America. I selected Goudy TextTM

Regular (Figure 9-1) as the typeface that encompasses the colonial period and Filosofia as the

contemporary period (Figure 9-2).

Goudy TextTM Regular contains a balance between white and black elements. What this

typeface was able to provide was the great presence of authenticity. This allowed me to depict

Spain's romantic but strong emphasis to power and history. The typeface is strong and legible at

a big scale. This allowed me to emphasize the monumentality of patrimony and fortified









architecture that the Spanish left in Puerto Rico. Furthermore, this typeface added the dimension

of time that I was after.

Filosofia afforded me with the opportunity to play with scale. This typeface is comfortable to

read at a small scale and equally beautiful at a large scale. The typeface is truly stylistic and

beautiful. It worked well as a contemporary typeface to represent a different time and a different

voice. It represents today's contemporary landscape. Once my typefaces were selected for the

compositions, I needed to begin molding the importance and the reason why I wanted to design.

My interest in this project grew from a void in my life, the displacement from my home

and my mother. It was that void that got me interested in reading about urban theory and authors

such as Richard Sennett and Kevin Lynch, who offered me a great deal of insight on how to read

urban form and life. But I also read Borges and poetry of a friend, Guillermo Rebollo Hil. It was

the poetry that satisfied my emotional side while Lynch and Sennett my academic side. While

reading, I continuously kept writing about experiences that I remembered or insights into how I

perceived urban life. Writing became very important in the process. I was writing ideas,

memories, experiences, thoughts, conversations, music, etc. The purpose of writing was to allow

me to go back to something and develop visual compositions out of words. Writing became the

root of the project.

Authorship

Today, cultures are viably absorbed through communication. Media and books act as

filters of this unknown phenomenon. This modern method of understanding cultures has a hole,

this being the direction in which the information is going. This unidirectional transfer does not

allow the recipient to feed back into the formula. What this creates is an assumed and

unauthentic representation to what the culture is. Stereotypes are a product of this model. The

most optimal model is one that is bidirectional and both parties are allowed to dialogue back and









forth. It is through the transaction of the bidirectional model that one can truly begin to

understand cultural identity. In order for the dialogue to take place, one must interact with other

"naturals," see and hear their respective opinions. In urban Puerto Rico, specifically the

metropolitan area, this dialogue occurs bilingually. So many American brands and products are

present in this area that it is merely impossible to negate them. The metropolitan landscape

contains a constant dialogue between the English and Spanish language. What is bilingual by

nature has become one language, Spanglish. This is more evident in the younger generation than

any other. The creative project is based on the identity of the outside so in nature, it is bilingual. I

am bilingual and I also speak fluent "Spanglish." The young Puerto Rican generations have

adopted and continue to recreate this broken language in order to posses something unique about

the culture and through this process, affect culture. This hybrid language has become so widely

used that it is now heard in America, Latin America and even Europe. It has been magnified

through music and commercialized throughout the world. Because the plural use of English and

Spanish is used to today's urban landscape, the decision to use both languages was made in order

to preserve the authenticity to what is experienced in the street rather than the classroom per say.

This transaction was crucial to my creative project because not only did I project my perception

but also the perception of others who interact with me. In order to arrive into a position of

transaction between others, and myself, I wrote poems that depict realities of the urban quotidian

life. These self-written poems were internally processed and their messages contain an important

meaning to me. Understanding the fragility of this transaction, authorship becomes an integral

facet of my creative work. Even though my natural occupation of the space, as I was born and

raised there, adds credibility to the work, it is authorship what roots the work to me. Through

authorship, I take responsibility and position the viewer to understand the culture through my









participation in it. Above all, I felt that there is a need to expose the different realities of this

metropolitan area because people, who are not from there, assume that life is one way when it is

really more layered than media perhaps, depicts it. Even those living within this urban edge, at

times, overlook the essence of living in such form and end up not appreciating the great value the

city has on our culture and us. If one learns and grows through the difference in others, what

better place than the city to magnify and allow us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in such

exploration. As I was born and raised there, I learned and shaped myself through this plurality

and even though I might not have understood such transformation earlier, it still had an effect in

me. People might perceive my work as pessimistic or perhaps detrimental because they overlook

the details on how the city works. My work is not a negative outlook on the city. It is merely a

depiction of the things that allowed me to learn, develop character, garner my competitive

personality and at the same time be humble about my position in this shared urban space. This

need, to better understand one's purpose and meaning, rises from the death of my mother. Her

role in helping me figure out what I am was tore through death so it was up to me to search for

such. Writing became the most intimate yet reciprocal form of dialoguing between my external

reality, my recognition of presence and my internal memories. The writing not only depicts my

memories, experiences and observations, it also demonstrates that even though the urban world

is composed of different cultures, we all still share common experiences within this context. The

writing allows the reader to create sensorial experiences with the work. The work could say what

other people say but it is my words that give meaning to the research because the viewer is able

to experience a culture through my eyes, my words, acting as a filter to their heart and mind.









Urban Creative Analysis (UCA)

As I read theory, poetry and history of urban form and life, I visited Puerto Rico three

times in order to document the images in which I was writing about in my journals. In each trip, I

stayed for a period of three months and it was during those nine months that I documented all

images and started molding the research. The success of this research relied on a process that

started well beyond my decision to study in Graduate School. This process breaks down into

these:

Living in Puerto Rico (Car)

Leaving Puerto Rico (Plane)

Returning to Puerto Rico (Foot)

Through these three metaphors, one can truly begin studying and evaluating urban identity.

These metaphors contain the elements of velocity, distance, and energy; they require the use of

all your senses as a method to describe the city.

Living in Puerto Rico. The car refers to the time one spends in the city under the

supervision of older siblings. It is at this time when one looks at the city from inside the car at

various velocity but always maintaining a distance to the use of touch, smell and at times

hearing. One looks out, protected by the car and the trajectories that the person driving chooses.

In this stage, one is looking at the city at a velocity that only permits you to see the facades the

city portrays to you. This is the time when one begins understanding landmarks as nodes of

direction within the city. It is very important because this stage is the first stage of the process of

understanding the city.

Leaving Puerto Rico. The second stage is the plane. It is in this stage where one leaves the

city for whatever reason and has the perspective to look at it from above. In this stage, distance is









a critical factor. Also, it is in this stage where one must use the mind to recover memories from

the time you could use your senses. Away from it, one counts on books, articles and sporadic

visits that refresh your mind with more images that define you in this urban landscape. At this

distance, one begins to notice what is maintained in memory and what one learned from looking

at it from the first stage. At this point, one begins to analyze and question elements from the city.

This is the most critical stage due to the reading, analyzing and interpreting of what one search

for, identity and cultural value. It is here where one becomes a historian, academic, theorist, and

thinker. This is the stage where one opens its eyes without the older siblings having control of it.

Returning to Puerto Rico. The third stage is the foot stage. Here, one returns to the city

after one has read, written, analyzed and studied the city one once occupied. Now, one walks the

city and sees it differently. This new vision is due to the exploration of oneself away from it and

now the understanding of one's purpose within this urban culture. At this point, one starts

transforming the information into art and most importantly, into meaning. It is here when one

uses all of your senses to better define his or her own meaning as an urban dweller.

After understanding the city through these metaphors, compositions were created and an

exhibition was designed to expose such. The exhibition was crucial to the work because it was a

tool to interaction between my work and the community. It was very important for me to see how

people reacted to my work. Several considerations were taken in order to achieve an intimate

experience between viewer and the work. In order to direct people from enjoying the pieces from

afar and getting them to become intimate with them, I had to consider two senses, sight and

touch. I did not want the viewer to see my work from a distance because I feel that culture must

be experienced through immersion. To achieve that, I played with scale in order to attract

attention to the viewer but also permit them to want more in order to get closer and see the rest









(Figure 9-4). This seemed to work exquisitely. The second sense, touch, was tough to

conceptualize. I wanted the viewer to desire to touch my work. I wanted the viewer to physically

interact with culture so I debated on how I will achieve that and I seemed to get it from the

texture of the paper where I printed my urban poems. I selected a dense, textured paper that

accompanied with the historic typeface, gave the viewer a sense of time and place therefore

triggering them to get closer and touch the piece. In the future, I hope to use the sense of smell

and sound to further enhance the experience of my work. I feel this is a good strategy to the way

a designed the exhibition in order to not only grab the attention of the viewer but immerse them

into this culture in order for them to absorb it.

It sounds complicated but that was the only way I was able to reach an effective dialog on

the urban culture of the landscape. I see this process (walking, driving and flying) as tools to

understanding culture. There are plenty of ways researchers or even individuals might consider

to understanding and learning about cultures. Many would do it through the study of paintings,

sculptures, books, monuments, tourist guidebooks, television, movies, etc. I learned it by these

three stages. Sure, some of the other elements were present in my understanding of myself but

for me, the city is the painting, sculpture, monument and the book that contains chapters and

chapters of information valuable to one's search of urban identity and culture.

Creative Pieces

The tangible result of the project was developed with great detail. There were different

types of work produced for this project with the intention of enveloping as much of the city as

possible. The first creative product was a set of poems that narrated memories, experiences,

commentaries and passages about urban culture and the quotidian life (Figure 9-3). It was in

these poems that I initially began to explore the use of Goudy Text Regular from Linotype and

Filosofia Regular from Emigre. These typefaces were selected because they satisfied several









criteria important to the body of work. Furthermore, these typefaces represent me in my body of

work. Their form and articulation are a direct representation of my life, character and

personality. The blackletter represents my bold, aggressive and strength aspects and Filosofia

represents my romantic, articulate, and contemporary aspects. Through the use of both typefaces,

I was able to begin encapsulating time into the pieces and permitted my perception to be

manifested with the opportunity of being interpreted. They were the backbone of the entire body

of work. These poems were the most crucial facet of the project because they contained the

substance of what I wanted to viewer to see. Looking at the poem in Figure 9-4, one can notice

how the typography moves within the aperture. Typography was used to evoke rhythm, pacing,

and movement. That is the reason why one can observe that not all words and even letters, line

up next to each other. This decision creates an irregular rhythm that exists within the vernacular

language of the street. Looking at a detailed image of the same poem (Figure 9-5) demonstrates

the intentions closer. Notice how angles and proximity are arranged in order for it to be legible

but at the same time, to convey a secondary message of space and order. When using Goudy,

Notice how it not only depicts the colonial period but also to adds power, boldness, and weight

the canvas. Its use allows for visual balance and aesthetic interest. It also, because of its density,

allows the eye to move easier through the composition. Other examples also demonstrate the

procedure (Figure 9-6 through 9-9).

More than twenty poems were developed but only sixteen were exhibited. The poems were

printed on a Kraft paper purchased at Neenah. This paper allows the pieces to maintain the

vernacular aesthetic that was desired for the exhibition. Through this material, one is able to

detach the viewer from something that seems untouchable into an intimate and local piece that

should be interacted with. Typographically, there was a need to expose two realities, the colonial









and contemporary. As explained before, Goudy Text Regular and Filosofia were chosen to depict

their respective realities. The selection of typography allows the viewer to observe that there is

two time periods that exist within the compositions. The duality of time was very important due

to its transparency in the urban landscape. The size was kept small in order to attract the viewer

to get closer and read the poems.

The next phase of the pieces was patterns. The significance of this facet of the work is

visible though the way people live within the city. There are several things that are omnipresent

in the city and people, through repetition, make it significant and assimilate them into their

quotidian life. Through this process, they become part of the urban culture. These patterns are

symbols of the way we live in the city. They represents facets from cuisine, music, sports, etc.

some of them seem obvious to all people and others seem unusual. Since many people only see

few elements of this urban culture, these patterns manifest the common but also uncommon

facets of this rich landscape. Some of the elements include the perpetual traffic jams, the thought

of spending time on the beach, the craving of refreshing one's thirst with a fresh fruit juice, the

competition that drives us, and the presence of religion in our lives. These are just few of many

patterns of the urban quotidian life. The pieces contain not only the pattern but also an image

below it. This image allows the viewer to position place and symbol. The decision to include

both came from a desire to manifest where the memory visits and how it interprets images into

developing symbols. Many different images can trigger the memory to think of the same pattern,

this is just one. These patterns will quickly trigger the sensory thoughts and provoke the viewer

to imagine, feel, taste, hear and touch the culture (Figure 9-11). The patterns contained elements

of the quotidian life, such as: vegetation, domestic animals, religious motifs, traffic jams, cultural

events, and people (Figure 9-13). I wanted to show a little bit of everything in the vernacular









rather than just making a set of fruits or so on. The elaboration of the patterns, besides its

exposure of the quotidian, was to visualize it as a commercial print that could be applied to wall

surfaces, fabric, and objects (Figure 9-15). Due to time and cost, the patterns were kept as

samples on paper.

The last facet of the creative project was the 20" b y 30" canvas of municipality poems

(Figure 9-10). These compositions contained not only the poem but also imagery to accompany

the writing. They depict memories and experiences within the municipalities of the metropolitan

area. Images had direct correlation with the writing. Under such a layered landscape, components

of the city can be easily overlooked by locals and even more by foreigners. Every image

captured had an elaborate amount of layers that were overwhelming to the poems. In order to

magnify the strength of the compositions, a technique, which I call, singularization was utilized.

This technique refers to the use of imagery in order to convey a targeted message. Since images

were complex, by extracting just what is necessary from the image, one can focus the

composition and the message (Figure 9-16). This method allows for subject focus and through

this, a foreigner might be able to notice such subject when visiting the urban landscape in a

future occasion. They helped accentuate the message. These compositions expose the realities of

a young man living in the city and the facets of growing in such complex urban setting.

Typography is used to delineate message, time and rhythm. The poem's lines are arranged

according to the pace of the message. This would allow the viewer to experience elements such

as: intensity, density, dominance, passiveness, distance, proximity, movement and space. The

poem permeates the negative space of the piece as if it is creating its own landscape. The

language is written as the urban colloquial language is utilized. This means that certain aspects of

the pronunciation are omitted, accents are added or subtracted, and slang vocabulary is utilized.









This decision was made in order to demonstrate the origin, corruption and genuine elements of

today's urban language. Typography size is varied in order to create intensity, focus and

importance according to the messages. The pieces seem minimal but such minimalism allows the

viewer to see what they need to see and nothing else. This creates interest in the images that are

presented. It affords a sense of impact and shock due to the power of the images. This is once

again called visual singularity. Through this technique, one is able to only expose what one

desires the viewer to experience. The technique could be used to maximize the visual into the

viewer's memory in order for the viewer to be more prone to noticing the subject if seen under

such a layered landscape. This technique allows complete focus on the message and gave the

compositions a clean, uniform aesthetic (Figure 9-2). A portion of the work was framed in order

to further accentuate time and history. Whether all pieces will be framed has yet to be

determined. All photographs, patterns, and municipality poems were printed with archival paper

and ink in order to maximize its collector's value and preservation.

Piece Descriptions

In order to facilitate the use and interpretations of the pieces, here are some of the

descriptions. The description is based on the artist's perception through his life in and outside the

urban perimeter in metropolitan Puerto Rico.

Figure 9-10: These two compositions depict the importance of the haircut in a young

man's life. The use of the gamecock is utilized to serve as a metaphor to what the young male

lives in the city. In order to fight, the gamecock must not have its crest due to its fragile position

and the possibility of bleeding to death. The importance of the haircut in a young man's life is

just as crucial. Young males cut their hair every week to maintain elegance in order to compete

in the urban landscape. Just as the gamecock, there are people who have earned their reputation

for preparing and breeding strong fowls. This does not guarantee their victory but in perception,









it helps theirs odds. The young man's hair is also left to people that have earned a reputation for

such task. Young males visit their respective master's to keep them elegant not only for the

ladies but also for the men. The decision to include this facet of urban life is attributed its current

importance in the urban culture. Whether it is in Puerto Rico, New York, Orlando, Chicago,

Puerto Rican males have an obsession with their haircuts and maintaining such elegance.

Figure 9-11: This piece exposes one of many elements that are part of the urban

quotidian life. The fortification of the fort is and will always be part of our history and the

dominant use of avocado as part of our cuisine is just as important. In my household, avocado

was eaten with white rice and it is part of my life as Puerto Rico's urban history. The image of

the fort and beyond reminded me of the avocado because of its beautiful green color. The excess

of the color activated my memory into thinking of such side dish to any meal. My mother loved

avocados and a strong memory of her will be her obsession with eating plain white rice with

avocado while she sat on her own to meditate.

Figure 9-16: This poster raises a question that parallels with the metaphor of the

gamecock. The question reads, "What does a gamecock that has lost many battles do?" This

speaks about not only the bums, but also any male in the city. The decision to using the bum was

made because, visually, it portrays a sense of defeat and the body exposes such depreciation. The

composition also answers many possibilities to what a multi-loosing gamecock does. It

comments on results of strength, perseverance, weakness, addiction, spirituality, labor, and

confusion.











3oud ecxt
Figure 9-1. blackletter, Goudy Text Regular, 2006

The quick brown fox jumps over

Figure 9-2. Filosofia, 2006


quile sopi Qg ?

me dtjan sat

Figure 9-3. Urban poem. 4" x 12", 2006.


que pensara la cultural de nosotros
Snin rermalnanraml queler rnmenaniau
) idcntrdad no pdaemo estar mas displastar
cstamos al garctt.
miaiiifeslacioun de la tela urbana.
Aliora sonos adiclt a la brea. aritf b tao
nus coIarotn ias ins. ,:pa' que carajo son las guaguas?
Eso es pa' los pobrcs Si dc cheque' a chlquc pagamos y en deudas still
nosencontramos.
nnsueerandl snialllir-IIInU


VYX


I.s qi-se..a ern ea e ne i.Kn s h .r -2l.nH cuanto CStaLi El dia
n.. & li i.. dc tu murtc.


Figure 9-4. Urban poem. 4" x 12", 2006.


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I ontau
en identidad no podemos estar mas despistau.

cstamos al garet.

:la urbana.

alabrea. arr9 l ata


son las guaguas?


mos y en deudas still -


orasolamente CUantO tstard cl


Figure 9-5.


Urban poem. 4" x 12", 2006.


quin SOQ O r"mrr0?

me drias k ee
me drias ster


Figure 9-6. Urban poem. 4" x 12", 2006.


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pre n tale a un jibaro y te dira i
pr'egurtale aun teco y te dira oti
preguntale a otro,
y otro te dira lo que tu eres.
nadie reconoce lo que te has faj)
dejate de fecas.
eres chino o japones?
es lo mismo.
nadie lo va a reconocer.
6
mr dejas stt


Figure 9-7. Urban poem. 4" x 12", 2006.


Sno U to pnEude ]impial conm la minrda e papcl.
rnas vale que no la cagues porquI
,w tr qnuda hasta que rc limpic 11lorando y


Figure 9-8. Urban poem. 4" x 12", 2006.





























Figure 9-9. Urban poem. 4" x 12", 2006.


Patl brEa .iH

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pasurn
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Figure 9-13. Patterns of urban culture. 12" x 12" each, 2006.












































Figure 9-14. Candelabro detail, 2006.


















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iraLE jAl uidnl Jrre p[ni no io drpil pcLidr
dir gut na a scu ir prticnd p a lain rntgl no Ir dan.
It pia il ambar pro no a Is pauor armrnrr.
It prs tanto qou no 10 dia Iktlar,
or Iaian c oUr dia pam kar tro otra Ia.
st Crnmu t 1 busra futta is ara r it da nda cd.
or arrtpiamt, ber a t nso porquc nadir mis to padrc soNar.


L.


"puc


Figure 9-16. El sabio, 2


td


,:]i, n,,.,: ,r ;. ll ...ir l:,j, ,,, ,n, ', .- :', an;' i s --i* ,


x 30", 2000.









ha

oeces que


I '. 111 IW l na rr 2 ---06
Figure 9-17. El sabio (detail), 2006.


siguc pclcando hasta que I
se muda para la calle porq
sc mete herofna para oluid
busra, busca, busra, hast
se mete al cuadrilItcro pt
dice que na a sqguir perian
it pesa el arrebato per no
It pcsa tanto que no Io dejr
at loanta otto dfa para ha


I I


I








tragic y bien no se recibe.
todo gallo pasa por esto
en a.lgn memento u otro.
unos pierden
otros ganan

pero todos pasan, todos pagan.
la ciudad es el cuadrilAtero
y y6 el animal que pelea en ella.

soy un gallo del ayer, del maflana.
un gallo, urban y

.^.^ Si^P cirB I


Figure 9-18. Ciudad de Carolina (detail), 20" x 30", 2006.


1A-


































la frnnia a haonorjahle
de haecr ud rwr
enlmplandoau terrtorno.
Ira'bjo fur.lasmnti
paral ld olninimncint uraiio
y lass iafaer6fn personal.
< rloquesea

y rasidhcnti


guLlie 9- 19.


esidente, 20 x 30", 2000.











la forma mis honorable
de hacer su dinero
es limpiando su territorial,
la ciudad.
trabajo fundamental
para el mantenimiento urban
y la satisfacci6n personal,
sea lo que sea.










gure 9-20. Resident (detail), 2006.








Figure 9-20 Residente(detail), 2006.



































gallo urbano


xO
el gallo
urban
y la ciudad me persigue.
ahora es mi turn para pe.ear
y d6jame decirte que mi entrenamiento fud
trgico y bien no se recibe.
todo akllo pasa por esto
en algun momentoo u oulra.
unos pierden
otros ganan
pero todos pasan, todos pagan.
la ciudad es el cuadrilatero
y y6 el animal que pelea en ella.
s.:.v unl gatll delayer, del mafana.
un gallO. urban
.ruI t cMpora I


Figure 9-21. Carolina, 20" x 30", 2006.









CHAPTER 10
IMPORTANCE OF WORK

The discipline of design in the academic environments has been concerned with

conceptualization and aesthetics. Not too often did I experience a drive into using the ability to

conceptualize, problem solve and aesthetically develop elements into a drive of understanding

cultures, society and people (Figure 10-1). It was not until I started my graduate studies in

Graphic Design, that I began exploring my desire to use visual compositions to educate and help

society understand culture through my work. The field of Graphic Design is often viewed as a

process of creating corporate identities in order to get money in return, but I feel that it could be

used to help communities (whether academic or professional) to understand other cultures. As

designers we create cultures and now that diversification is becoming global, the necessity of

understanding cultures has become essential. Language itself segregates the cultures, so do

customs. But visual imagery can be absorbed by everyone and could be used as a tool to educate

others on the life and conditions of places. The potential lies in using language, music and

images to formalize and concretize ideas of culture and then expose them for others to see and

absorb.

My intention as a designer is to represent elements of my life in an innovative way. In

doing such, facilitate others to better understand my culture through my experiences. As an

academic I hope to show a thorough compilation of important elements that comprise the

understanding of the urban culture of Puerto Rico but perhaps an example to be used when

studying other cultures. The goal is to present the heterogeneous multi-temporal stages of

identity that are and will always be presented in a modem urban context. The final goal is to

inspire others into learning about cultures in the discipline of design.









Urban dialogues, is an important project in the field of graphic design (Figure 10-2, 10-3).

The project exposes the trajectory one could experience in the process of understanding urban

identity and culture. As the majority of the world turns urban for the first time in human history,

we will need to be prepared to face the complexities of this plural landscape. With this

complexity comes an enormous confusion to how we perceive and understand others and

ourselves. Graphic designers have an integral role in this moment in history. We shape messages

through media and space and it is our responsibility to make sure that things have the capacity of

being understood by others. Decoding information in the multiplicity of the urban landscape is a

challenge and the necessity of finding the essence of one's culture is even more critical. For

these reasons, I understand that "urban dialogues" is an important project to this field.

This project also serves as an important step in my life as I know clearly understand the

purpose my mother lived and died. She allowed me to see for myself, the light and the shadows

of my beautiful home. Through this process, I was able to take my academic life into a different

level and it opened the doors to my professional life for many years to come. It is my mission to

utilize what I have learned to show others the reality of this complex phenomenon, the city.

Through exhibitions, seminars, workshops, and writing, I hope to spread my knowledge to many

people and many cultures. This is how society will benefit from my work, through the exposure

of it. I hope my name one day is remembered as someone who loves his culture very much and

that understood his place in it.






























Figure 10-1. Exhibition piece. 2006.


Figure 10-2. Exhibition opening. April 17 of 2006.






































Figure 10-3. Exhibition opening. April 17 of 2006.









CHAPTER 11
EQUIPMENT AND DOCUMENTATION

In order to document I used the following tools:

Sony DSC-717 digital camera at its highest resolution to capture vernacular images.

1GIG Memory Stick in order to be on the field without loading images constantly.

256 MB Memory Stick just n case I ran out of space.

Samsung Digital Camcorder to capture dialogues, music and sounds of the city.

Apple Powerbook G4 to contain and manipulate my data.

Lacie External Hard Drive 180 to store of images and video.

Adobe Photoshop CS2

Adobe Illustrator CS2

Adobe Indesign CS2

Final Cut Pro HD

While in Puerto Rico, I took over 5,000 photographs, over 10 hours of video footage which

include personal interviews, city life, cockfighting and collection of routinely things which are

used in the quotidian life. I was mostly interested in places, things and people, which were part

of my life in order to reach a genuine representation of my identity.

While in Puerto Rico, I always had my digital camera and digital camcorder with me. That

was not a problem since I commuted the island with a close friend or on my own. Most of the

pictures I shot were taken from an unobtrusive location in order to capture an uninterrupted shot

of quotidian life. Many shots were taken while moving in the car, others while shooting it from a

distance in which the subject could not realize I was there. This method was crucial to my

research. Through this method, I acquired shots that depict behavior that is natural to the subject

in the picture rather than a modeled shot.









CHAPTER 12
CONCLUSION

Puerto Rico's urban identity is more complex that what I imagined. Even though I lived

there for 16 years and continue to go back and visit, the multiplicity of the urban landscape is

faster and more aggressive than what one can experience wholly. Through the process of

unveiling certain aspects of this culture, I was able to realize the importance of this study not

only to myself but also to the Latin American community, urban community and academic

community. The great majority of the Latin American community was under the ruling of Spain

for centuries. This occupation of land had an immense effect on how society is lived today. The

complexity lies as time continues to disappear and we see ourselves renovating the past but

yearning modernization. In a way, we want the new but are not willing to let go of the past. This

friction creates plurality in our urban backyard and develops a lack of understanding into how

this chaos truly works and affects us.

In the metropolitan area in Puerto Rico, everything is up for change. Everyone knows that

it will happen but the question is not when but how will we change with it. We must be attentive

and retentive of all things that were once standing or living. It is through this that we learn about

ourselves. The power of memory is the education that can illuminate your future. Through this

education, we will be participants into the development of stronger units that will empower the

mind, body and soul in order to make the city an organic experience generator.

Even though this project had an academic termination to accomplish a degree of Master in

Fine Arts, it is a perpetual project that will be part of me and of those close to me. The city needs

to expose its experiences. We need to tell others because it is through that transaction that we

learn and grow into better urban dwellers. It is through those transactions that we come together

as a unit. Through this project, I have satisfied the dream of a mother but at the same time, I









satisfied the need I had and was not aware of. The only thing left for me to do is what I share

with every other urban dweller; not only in Puerto Rico but the rest of the urban world that is

survival. It is through survival that one has the opportunity to tell others the story. Therefore, I

recommend everyone to desire the need to know stories from other urban dwellers that have been

there longer than you. Through those stories, you will be stronger to fight and compete in this

chaotic paradise that I call "urbe" and you call city.









LIST OF REFERENCES

Almondoz, Arturo. 2000 Ensayos de Cultura Urbana. Fondo Editorial Fundarte.

Bachelard, Gaston. 1964 The Poetics of Space. Translated by the Orion Press. (First Published in
French in 1957.)

Beauregard, Robert A. 1999 The Urban Moment. By Sage Publications, Inc.

Cabrera, Gilberto. 1997 Puerto Rico y su Historia Intima Tomo 1._Hato Rey. Ramallo Bros.
Printing, Inc.

"Caliban". Caliban: Apuntes sobre la cultural en nuestra America, Mexico: Diogenes, 1971. (115-
27) Fernandez Retamar

Cantz, Hatje Dr. 2002 Under Siege: Four African Cities Freetown, Johannesburg, Kinshasa,
Lagos Documenta 1 _Platform4. Published by Hatje Cantz Publishers.

De Hostos, Adolfo. 1966 Historia de San Juan Ciudad Morada._San Juan. Institute de Cultura
Puertorriquefia.

"Del ensayo" y "El ensayo en su function social." Teoria de la critical y el ensayo en
Hispanoamerica. La Habana: Editorial Academia, 1990. (pp. 109-11/113-15)

Garcia Canclini, Nestor 1995 Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity.
Translated by Christopher L. Chiappari and Sylvia L. Lopez. Published by the Regents of
the University of Minnesota.

Montoya, Jairo. 1999 Ciudades y Memorias. Editorial Universidad de Antioquia.

Multiplicity 2003 USE: Uncertain States of Europe. Translated by Antony Bowden. Published by
Skira Editore.

Presupuestos de la identidad cultural iberoamericana" (pp.23-110). Identidad cultural de
Iberoamerica en su narrative. Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1986. (Fernando Ainsa)

Quiles, Edwin. 2003 San Juan: Tras la Fachada. San Juan. Editorial Instituto de Cultura
Puertorriquefia.

Sennett, Richard 1970 The Uses of Disorder: Personal Identity and City Life. Published by
Norton & Company, Inc.

Sepulveda, Anibal. 1989 San Juan: Historia Ilustrada de su Desarrollo Urbano. Viejo San Juan.
Centro de Investigaciones CARIMAR.

Universidad de Guadalajara 2002 Reconstruccion del termino disefio: memories del XI Congreso
de Academicos de Escuelas de Disefio Grafico.









Zijderveld, Anton C. 1998 A Theory of Urbanity: The Economic and Civil Culture of Cities by
Transaction Publishers.









BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Ricardo Hernandez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1980. He lived in a metropolitan

area of Puerto Rico where he attended military school for nearly 12 years. He is the son of a

teacher, social worker and single mother. Ricardo spent most of his childhood surrounded by

college students and university professors due to the fact that his mother worked at the biggest

private university in Puerto Rico. The importance of education was inculcated since early age

and the desire to go beyond an undergraduate degree was a dream to his mother. Within the

family institution, Ricardo is the oldest of 3 children of Sandra Ruiz. He has a younger brother

who is 3 years apart and a sister who is 9 years apart. Since early age, he took on the

responsibility to look after them since his mother at times, had to work multiple jobs in order to

keep the family afloat and keep us enrolled in a costly military school.

Ricardo moved to Florida in 1996 after his grandmother died and his mother made the

decision in order to benefit the future of her children's education. At the University of Florida, he

studied in the School of Design, Construction and Planning where he began by studying

architecture and later graduated with a bachelor in design from the Interior Design division.

Upon graduation, he decided to attend Graduate School in order to expand his knowledge in

design communication and language.