Ernesto Oroza / Si despierta un pájaro intercambian sus cabezas los jugadores. Un poema de SNET. (Documentation of a site-specific installation,) 2015. Mixed Media. Courtesy of the artist.

Courtesy of the artist.

The island of Cuba is at the opposite end of hyper-connectivity. With a very controlled Internet access and with an increasing number of computer engineers and other technology experts, people in that country has managed to interconnect their home computers to create an underground network popularly called “Street Network” (SNET.) This intranet is a platform for gaming and for sharing information extracted from Internet, offline. With the help of a local node administrator of SNET in Havana, Oroza intervened this network to create Si despierta un pájaro intercambian sus cabezas los jugadores (2015) –which roughly translates into “if a bird wakes up, the players exchange their heads.” The title is a quote from the poem Cielos del Sabbat (1960) by Cuban Writer and poet José Lezama Lima written using the exquisite corpse method.

The artist inserted a link in SNET’s opening page to a program stored in its server. For a week, it directed users to another page where they could join an exquisite corpse poem game. Players were prompted to come up with one or two words that would add to the poem. This random and anonymous process was not only reflective of the nature of the network but also of the experience of collectiveness in Cuba. On the other hand, in a context where collective statements are only issued by official institutions, the piece symbolically became an alternative platform for freedom of expression.

The resulting poem was physically brought to the States and printed fragments of it are given away in the gallery for people in Miami to take home in an inverse process to that of the “mulas” (mules) who, surpassing the strict commercial regulations of the two countries, manage enter goods from Miami to the Island; another example of the alternative creativity of the Cubans.