This summer I am going Cuba for a few weeks art/research residency. The plan is to check on digital arts and context. Got any suggestions?
It is clear that the fight for basic internet connection is central for the progressive part of the society. I got a good feel from this cuban-made documentary:
For serious contextual understanding of Cuba I recommend the longish political economy article by Emily Morris in New Left Review.
Outside — or rather on top of — these things there’s a layer of anthropology that looks promising. The thing that interests me the most is to somehow document the Cuban sneakernet. How this works is that someone with hi-speed access downloads weekly packages of entertainment (movies, telenovelas, sports, magazines…) and resells them around the island on 1tb drives. Since there’s no porn or politics there might be a silent deal with authorities. I would like to make pictures of these discs. Maybe of their directory structures too… don’t know really.
Sneakernet reminded me of a special piece of anthropology from Dubai: an ad for Mall Walkers which are super-special sneakers made for strolling through shopping malls. Everybody should have a pair:
It is of course interesting for me to see how or whether art is finding it’s way to these weekly internet paquetes. I would expect to find some.
Or I can reverse things. Since Germany has a ban on torrenting I was thinking of organising an artists run sneakernet operation in Berlin. You know, invite some Cuban artists to go around town on bicycles with subversive illegal stuff inciting people to communicate… But this is just a larva of a thought. Will see.
It is sometimes good to mix first world artistic reality with third world ingenuity. It has to be conceptually justified though. Good case in point is the show at parents garden done by ever-interesting Jan Fabre. Jan tell us:
So, this brief post is an invite to all of you my faitfull seven readers to give me clues contacts or somesuch regarding the Cuba research. The result might be a show, or a talk or a video. Talk to me.