Cuba Is Going Digital

By Taylor E. Torres Escalona

The organizers.
The organizers.

HAVANA TIMES — As of February 4, 2015 and until April this year, art enthusiasts can enjoy an exhibition titled Vista hace fe…We are going digital (“Seeing is Believing…We Are Going Digital”) at Havana’s Norwegian Embassy, located on 21 Street.

The Estudio Figuero-Vives (“Figuero-Vives Studio”) has been providing art pieces, and the Norwegian Embassy securing the needed resources, for some time now to materialize an original idea of the current ambassador, John Petter Opdhal, and his spouse Francisco A. Cabrera Gatell. Together, they have set up a space where young artists can exhibit their works, sometimes next to established artists that you cannot fail to mention when speaking of Cuban visual arts.

The topic of the exhibition is information and communication technologies and how these relate to young Cubans, who are developing innovative ideas that have an impact on the everyday life of Cubans.

On the night of February 4, opening day, participants were able to access the latest versions of the apps Isla Adentro (“Inside the Island”) and A la mesa (“On the Table”) and the latest from Vistar magazine and the “weekly package,” all free of charge. Visitors also had an opportunity to converse with the main artists behind the exhibition, Robin Pedraja (Vistar), Yodainer Gutierrez (A la mesa) and Indirha Sotillo (Isla Adentro). More than a visual arts exhibition, the gathering recalled a small-scale technology fair.

Sharing applications with the public.
Sharing applications with the public.

Generally speaking, the exhibition leaves a positive impression, conveying the image of a promising future for technology, revealing the great potential of a group of young artists, who, as I see it, are but the tip of the iceberg of what lies hidden across our island.

The majority of those in attendance were young users of these types of technologies. Cuba is heading towards the digital. The first steps have been taken and many consider this process irreversible. The Internet plays a crucial role in this, as it is a process that affects all human activity. Art, as a form of human expression, also cannot be divorced from this phenomenon. As a reflection of the artist, in this exhibition, it reflects something that is more than evident today: Cuban society needs to become connected.

The topic chosen on this occasion by the Estudio Figueroa-Vives and the Embassy of Norway in Cuba was quite apt, for three main reasons.

First, it is a current issue. Today, the next to null connectivity of Cubans is a recurrent subject of discussion at home and abroad, in the official and independent media. The study of offline “solutions” that Cubans have developed through their “inventiveness” and effort is also widely discussed.

Second, this is not the first time the Norwegian embassy addresses this issue. On a previous occasion, it supported initiatives developed by social actors through dialogue and understanding. Third (and, in my opinion, most importantly), because of the latent need to address this from as many sectors and perspectives as possible, to raise awareness and lead to changes that can spell benefits for Cubans in general.

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