In 1991, Cuba's economy began to implode. "The Special Period in the Time of Peace" was the government's euphemism for what was a culmination of 30 years worth of isolation. It began in the 60s, with engineers leaving Cuba for America. Ernesto Oroza, a designer and artist, studied the innovations created during this period. He found that the general population had created homespun, Frankenstein-like machines for their survival, made from everyday objects. Oroza began to collect these machines, and would later contextualize it as "art" in a movement he dubbed "Technological Disobedience."
Apparently Cuban President Raul Castro is currently shaming the corrupt by passing around confession videos of busted officials to the rest of the country’s elite. This brand of viral justice is a particularly creative application of technology in Cuba, which at once makes me think of Cuban-American artist Ernesto Oroza.
Oroza has spent much of his time studying the technological innovations that popped up during “The Special Period in the Time of Peace,” the Cuban government’s euphemism for the 90s collapse of the country’s economy that’d been set up for thirty years of isolation. He found scores of homebrew, DIY machines that citizens made to get by when no other options existed. In 2010, Motherboard visited Oroza in Miami to talk about his discoveries and the mass of brilliant creations made by Cuba’s DIY inventors.
Cuba’s inventor culture has its roots in the 70s, when a group of revolutionary-minded scientists and mechanics formed the National Association of Innovators and Rationalizers (ANIR). Building on the ethos of Che Guevara, ANIR untied hacker-minded folk with the needs of an isolated economy and the call of a socialist revolution. Oroza showed us his meticulous collection of machines from this era, which he has contextualized as art pieces in a movement he calls “Technological Disobedience.”
Originally aired on Motherboard in 2011. Read the full article here: