Ricardo Dominguez is an artist and associate professor of visual arts at UC San Diego. He has been the subject of controversy over a number of acts of electronic civil disobedience on his own and with the Electronic Disturbance Theater, which he co-founded with Brett Stalbuam, Stefan Wray, and Carmin Karasic.
Electronic Disturbance Theater, has organized “virtual sit-ins” that attempted to disturb websites with a program called FloodNet that automatically requests the target page over and over. These events sometimes incorporated a search term, such that the search would return a phrase like “Transparency not found” in the University of California, Office of the President website, or “human rights not found” at the website of Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo. On one occasion, the US Department of Defense diverted a planned attack to a nonexistent website. The “virtual sit-ins” were done in solidarity with Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico.
In 2007 Dominguez also helped develop a phone app called the Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT) with artists Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cardens, Amy Sara Carroll, and Elle Merhmand , which uses GPS technology to help immigrants find water stations in the Southern California desert and which also includes a poetry feature. It raises awareness about the number of people who die in the U.S.-Mexico border region and aims to rethink the ways in which “immigrants are always presented as less-than-human and certainly not part of a community which is establishing and inventing new forms of life.” TBT was subject to considerable controversy initiated by three Republican California congressmen; ultimately the University of California stated that TBT did not misuse research funds, but would not comment on whether it had broken any laws.
Currently, Dominguez is a Principal Investigator at CALIT 2, as well as, the Performative Nano-robotics Lab at SME (UCSD), and he is the Lead Researcher of the UCSD Center for Drone Policy and Ethics.