Maya Hackers WikiLab
Maya Hackers designs ritual objects for the Re programming of collective imagery, inspired by shamanic practices applied in the social and political realm. Read the full Maya Hackers Manifesto.
"At what point does the work that is ritual begin to merely resemble ritual? At what point does it loose its ritualistic power and become cheesy new-age fluff?"
Lucy Lippard in Overlay.
The Maya Hackers projects propose future oriented views of Mayan culture interacting with other cultures, breaking off with the stereotype that indigenous cultures are something from the past. In the same way the evolution of our body is stored in our DNA, many ancient cultural elements remain alive in contemporary culture. If that cultural trends have survived to this day, is because they are useful, playing a role in the integrity and identity of social groups.
Ancient Cultures and Open Source
It happens with ancient cultures that their elements can be used without restriction, they are considered heritage of humanity. In practice they are treated like a free repository of designs and ideas that anybody can take and use. The issue is more complex when those ancient cultures are living cultures, because you could be taking an element that is highly significative for somebody. In some sense, for some people the cultural elements are part of themselves, and by using such cultural elements you are interacting with people in some way.
Living Ancient Cultures analogy to Open Source
There is a difference in taking cultural elements that nobody uses anymore, and taking elements that still are part of the identity of a group. The first cultural elements could be treated like a free repository, but the second set are more like an open source repository. Open source is not equal to free stuff. Open source is a different kind of economy where many people work on a program for "free" because the program is their working tool to do other stuff. For example everybody in a community will naturally work together to construct a road or a bridge for the community, because everyone is going to use it, and nobody is able to do it alone.
With open source, it is the use value of the software what keeps the economy going. The contributors to the Open source project will gain reputation that can be readily exchanged in the environment of the project, for example to get a better job offer, or to get more financing for a project, etc. So working in the open source project for "free" is your way to promote yourself in the environment of software development.
“Images and activities borrowed from ancient or foreign cultures are useful as talismans for self-development, as containers. But they become ritual in the true sense only when filled by a communal impulse that connects the past (the last time we performed this act) an the present (the ritual we are performing now) and the future (will we perform it again?).”
Lucy Lippard in Overlay
Take for example the Mayan textile, at the heart of this industry is the fact that Mayan woman produce it and wear it in a self supporting cycle. Since the textiles are very beautiful, they can also reach other markets and produced for export. But the need to evolve the designs and introduce new variations comes from the fact that women use it and are ready to pay for the new models coming up every season. Knowing how to make very customized designs is a highly priced ability, and that keeps the art alive. Nobody owns the designs, they are more valued the more people use them and understand them like the elements of a language shared by a community. The same way a poem makes something different out of words that everyone uses, a skillful designer can make a new textile out of the common design pool.
The Seed Projects
The Maya Hackers projects are designed in analogy with seeds, the projects should contain the means to grow and propagate. To consider this "sustainability" of a project or the viability of a vector for a cultural information is to couple it to the economy, for a project to approach "ritual" it must find its own source of energy.
Textile design. Research.
Archaeology replicas, museum, architectural parts.
Digital art, painting, sculpture.
Re-loading ancient design in the collective pool of contemporary Maya weavers.
Arts and Crafts
Maya Astronomy, etno mathematics, Mayan epigraphy, oral tradition, languages. Workshops, conferences, consulting.