Jaguara: Art With A Purpose

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Sonic Design, an interdisciplinary team in Colombia that specializes in actualizing unique architectural projects and large events around the world, recently designed and built a multi-sensory Art Car, JAGUARA, and incorporated Elation Cuepix 16 IP™ LED matrix panels in the design to help spread its environmental message.

JAGUARA is a collaborative project by an interdisciplinary collective of artists, designers, scientists, musicians, ancestral knowers, ecologists, communicators, teachers, technicians, and artisans from different areas of the American continent. Sonic Design’s director, Leo Vilar, works throughout the world on projects that bring focus to Colombia and led the team that created the Art Car vehicle that portrays a jaguar emerging from the Amazon River.

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“Through this artful celebration of the jaguar, we want to raise awareness about the vulnerability of the main refuge of the jaguar, the Amazon Rainforest,” Vilar explains. He wanted to create an Art Car with a very unique character which would clearly portray the ancestral power of the Amazon rainforest and its vital role in preserving the balance of our global climate. “Many times technology pulls us away from nature but this project intends to work the other way around,” he said. “Through a very thoughtfully crafted design, complemented by state-of-the-art lighting and sound technology, we wish to raise awareness about the vulnerability of our most precious life supporting systems and about the critical moment we are living in now.”

JAGUARA debuted at Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. During daylight hours, JAGUARA was a rainforest oasis of patterns, colors and handcrafted art accompanied by sounds of nature, indigenous chants and tribal beats. In conjunction with PlayaSkool, JAGUARA hosted talks by Colombian anthropologist Carlos Castaño Uribe about Chiribiquete National Park in the Amazon rainforest, recently declared by UNESCO as world heritage, and the cosmic maloka of the jaguar. At night, the Art Car became an electro Latin music party featuring DJs, musicians, and performances from the counter culture movement in South America. Projection, lasers, and other effects enhanced the multi-sensory experience, a colorful multi-texture jaguar head emerging from the Amazon River.


For the lighting design, Vilar used Elation 64 Cuepix 16 IP LED matrix panels to re-create a traditional ‘jaguar man’ figure, a symmetrical and schematic design placed center stage in the Art Car. The Cuepix panels were used for colorful backlight as well as light on the audience. The artwork that Vilar pixel-mapped across the Cuepix panels was inspired by traditional Colombian beaded Shaman bracelet designs. “Using Cuepix was a more artistic way to create pixels instead of the more typical LED screen,” he said, adding that he ran the fixtures during the day but dimmed them all the way down to only 1% at night.

“The important thing is to bring the message of consciousness and awareness of nature to people,” says Vilar. “JAGUARA wants to…generate an echo for their positive actions.”

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