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Talking Bacatá

Bamburra is a collective from the town of Bosa, which since 2014 combines the exploration of materials and content through the development of objects (furniture, bike-machines, sound systems) and scripts (narrative forms). These processes are framed in the execution of self-managed laboratories based on theoretical and practical exploration in the public space. In relation to the experience as a collective, Bamburra has developed its work around the bicycle as a tool for the construction of community fabrics in territories of flux. He has also dedicated a large part of his professional career to the exploration of natural materials as a mechanism of appropriation and citizen empowerment, which is reflected in the execution of his projects.

In 2020 we embarked on exploring the material and immaterial dimension of sound and bicimáquinas, thus we built a sound system to amplify the collective voices against different controversial situations in the city, (urban cyclists, the defense of the wetland La Tingua Azul), giving voice to those who have no voice, The defense of the wetland La Tingua Azul), giving voice to those who do not have it, because we believe that history cannot be told by a single voice and in a single direction, the realities need to be told from multiple voices that are part of the story, and narrated from the unofficial.

“Bacatá Parlante” emerges as a playful and pedagogical interactive installation to generate alternatives to climate change in an itinerant and nomadic circuit format throughout the city; creatively encouraging behaviors and affirmative citizen actions for the environment (sustainable mobility, care of the environment of the territory, defense of wetlands and elements of the main ecological structure and urban gardens). One of the most important problems worldwide is climate change, attributed to carbon dioxide emissions generated mainly by combustion and agriculture.

On the other hand, it is based on the need to debate and question practices related to the unconscious consumption of energy, placing value on participation and active organization, to enrich the cultural and environmental ecosystem of the territories from the collective care of the environment. Bamburra addresses the processes of material and immaterial memory, collaborative work, the resignification of public space, the bicycle as a transformative agent and debate as a mechanism of denunciation that amplifies collective voices. It also carries out networking with communities and neighborhood organizations interested in self-managing and self-building creative ecological alternatives from the grassroots.

Technical characteristics of the proposal

Bacatá Parlante is a hybrid installation built in an artisanal way inspired by the sound systems of Jamaica in the 90’s as a way of resisting through music, counterculture and the construction of sound systems in wooden crates, as an active and protest form of denunciation of what is happening in the communities. From there, the aesthetics of Bacatá Parlante arises, represented through 3 wooden boxes that contain the speakers, which allow the amplification represented as high, medium and low tones (frequency range), with the main characteristic that the medium tones are materialized with a megaphone, a symbolic element of popular culture to perform the perifoneo.

This system has a capacity of 1500 watts maximum efficiency emitted through a power generation mechanism produced by a bicycle machine, which through the pedal transmission system and the flywheel built in cast concrete, activates an alternator of a Mazda 323 automobile and then stores the energy in a Duracell TP Technoplate 42-900 12 VDC automobile battery. Then, the current conversion is generated through a Procet Scientific inverter of 3000 Watts of current; it is possible to convert these 12 volts into 110 volts to be able to use conventional voltage equipment such as laptop computers, mixer consoles, Better DT 475 amplifier, speakers and other required equipment. 

The Bacatá Parlante system consists of the following elements:

– Bamboo bicycle frame made in a handcrafted way. This is the main structure of the system, which is pedaled for its operation.
– Bicycle generator: Power generating device which converts AC Alternating Current into DC Direct Current, it integrates the bamboo bicycle frame. 
– Speakers to amplify: Handcrafted sound system that incorporates popular local aesthetic elements and Jamaican Sound System.
– The contents they amplified are sound postcards and narratives that question and suggest debates on environmental care.
– In-situ soundscape production platform: Laboratory for the creation of on-site soundscapes with pre-recorded recordings

Productive, community, environmental, or economic processes or activities that were positively impacted by the implementation of the community experience of TEJ.

The implementation of clean energy leads to significant savings in economic terms, as it allows Bamburra to carry out activities in public spaces for 2 to 2.5 times less than the cost of organizing an activity in the traditional way. We are talking about almost 23% money savings or its equivalent in pesos of $600,000, every time the system is taken to the street. If this happens approximately 100 times a year, it is possible to make an overall balance of the last 3 years for an amount of $21,600,000 saved since 2020, not counting the decrease in energy consumption and the impact that is no longer made in the public space when organizing collective activities in the street.

Since the operation of Bacatá Parlante is more linked to a use in public than private activities, we consider that the implementation of the experience, although it does not generate a benefit of direct personal savings, is valued in symbolic capital, product of the experience from an experiential point of view that provokes reflection and debate against the waste of energy.

The proposal is to value the bicycle as a means for the appropriation, use and enjoyment of the city in a playful and creative way. At the same time, it proposes critical contents that will be transmitted through an interactive installation that explores, through different materials – bamboo, metal, wood – the development of a prototype of an electric energy bike-generator, which is charged by the pedaling of the participants. With the collective energy source, sound interruptions will be activated through the bicimáquina device, which will function as an amplifier of controversial situations in the face of climate change.

Beneficiaries of the experience

205 people per day

  1. Participation and territorial appropriation from local collective practices.
  2. Development of clean technologies as a response to the climate crisis.
  3. Self-management and self-building of low-cost scalable prototypes.
  1. The prejudices that exist about alternative systems and clean energy technologies, there is a symbolic burden on objects that somehow fall outside the standard and defined by the hegemonic economic model that comes to establish specific lifestyles with very specific material resources.
  2. During the construction of the system several technical mistakes were made because there was not enough experience in the field of circuits, connections, and measuring equipment for sound systems, as these are issues that were learned empirically, there were damages, disappointments but above all learning. This happened repeatedly until a sound system that works with communal pedal power was built.
  3. Lack of transportation to mobilize the system.
  4. Lack of budget to expand system capacity.
  5. High bureaucratic demand for the development of cultural activities in public spaces (Permits, paperwork, extensive and exhausting paperwork).
  6. Abuse of power and territorial control by administrative institutions and police authorities.
  7. Financial support to develop and replicate the technology.
  8. The absence of a public policy to support proposals such as this, which can be adapted to meet energy demand in rural and peripheral areas.
  9. More than a problem, it is the constant need to adapt the system, which must be progressively consolidated and adjusted.