Artworks \ CubaCreativa [GAMES]

CubaCreativa [GAMES]


Just in Time (To Play), El Oficio, Havana, Cuba [2018]

As part of the project CubaCreativa [2014]


Creativity is the ability of human beings to generate new ideas. It tends to flourish in extreme moments or moments of crisis, although not exclusively. When creativity emerges as a response to emergency or scarcity conditions, it acquires predominance in all areas of cultural, economic, and social organization, as is the case in Cuba. This artistic research project focuses on social creativity, heritage, tradition, popular culture, and the culture of survival. Each presentation of this collaborative and multimedia project varies in both format and media, from the organization of a seminar, an academic publication, or an interactive installation. 

CubaCreativa [GAMES] focuses on presenting different creative alternatives for the distribution and consumption of video games in Cuba. Taking into account the restricted access to the Internet and electronic devices, gamers’ communities have implemented practices that allow them to continue playing. This installation presented some of these hacks in the Cuban context. 


Biquad wifi antenna manufactured by KILLER PRO, Camagüey [2016].


In the last eight years, I have developed an artistic and research project in different international contexts called CubaCreativa. This project pays special attention to social actions and phenomena that constitute innovation practices. It is interested in documenting the processes or procedures with which creative solutions are reached, given that these in themselves can be infinitely repeated, readapted, and enhanced to the socio-cultural characteristics of each context and its economic circumstances. In that sense, more than the resulting physical object, it is the process and the singularity of social thought that is the focus of interest. 

CubaCreativa is also interested in showing local practices and phenomena related to the informal economy, alternative networks, and creative individuals or groups that work beyond the artistic field. Taking Cuban reality as a reference, the project explores, documents, and archives the terms and concepts used in each culture to refer to creative practices. In this way, it makes visible how these creative alternatives are the product of a tradition or have emerged from a culture of survival and how art can intervene in these spaces and creative processes.

CubaCreativa has the potential to grow connected to the daily life of the context in which it is developed. As part of his research, Nestor Siré has formed a photographic and videographic archive in constant development, documenting creative practices worldwide. The artist has given this archive the name iA [Informal Archive]. It is online, in wiki format, and makes social creativity and its global connections visible.

CubaCreativa [GAMES] focuses on presenting different creative alternatives for the distribution and consumption of video games in Cuba. In the 1960s, the mass media were nationalized. As a result, an illicit economy based on the rental of entertainment materials that escaped state regulations began to flourish on the island. The first video game consoles, which were brought by Cubans living abroad, created the basis for the gamers communities in Cuba. Given the restricted access to the Internet and electronic devices, the gaming communities have developed practices that allow them to continue playing games, extending the life of these devices and through creative strategies that give them access to new games on the international market through piracy. They have also created their mesh networks, which allow them to play multiplayer video games using computers and adapted wifi antennas.

This installation presented some of these hacks in the Cuban context in terms of video game distribution, console piracy, and antenna adaptations. 

Chip Pirata
Piracy process of X-BOX and PlayStation consoles.
Collaboration: PLAYOSMAR.

The first video game consoles in Cuba arrived as gifts from foreign relatives traveling to the island in the 90s of the last centuries. Due to the scarcity of consoles, the few Cubans who managed to have one used to share them with friends. This practice was gradually formalized as a business. In the beginning, small amounts were charged to pay for electricity and the purchase of new games. Over time, these spaces grew by offering console rental services by the hour and thus the first rental outlets emerged. This new informal economy practice created a demand for video games so in the 2000s the first pirate video game banks and workshops for pirating video game consoles began. Currently, these spaces have a presence in all cities of Cuba, organize events, and sponsor tournaments of different video games.

This video shows the process of pirating consoles and video games in the Playosmar workshop in Camagüey, Cuba. These spaces have the tools and trained personnel to pirate all existing consoles. Some of them provide home services for video game copying and console piracy, depending on the complexity of each piece of equipment.

Conexión wifi [BIQUAD]
Construction of an antenna for gamers in SNET.
Construction and design: KILLER PRO

In Cuba, after having access to computers, LAN Parties became popular, since they were allowed to create small tournaments and compete in multiplayer games. It was exhausting to move the teams to available space, usually the house of one of those involved. This was one of the reasons why they set out to build a network that would allow them to connect remotely. For those living in the same neighborhood, the solution was to install network cables running through buildings, yards, and streets, but it was difficult for those living at greater distances. 

The first wifi equipment used for these remote connections was the TP-Link 54 MB routers. These had indoor use and a range of up to 25 meters. To extend their range, the construction of double Biquad antennas, made from reused materials, became popular. Aluminum plates from printing presses, two-millimeter varnished copper wire obtained from the transformers of Soviet Krim 218 TV sets, plastic deodorant knobs (protects the TP-Link plate from outdoor weather conditions) were used, pencil (separates and protects the copper wire from the board), one-inch plastic water pipes (as a frame base), reused laptop coaxial cables (connects the TP-Link board to the copper wire) and USB ports (fits network cables that allow the antenna to connect to the PC). Biquad antennas are considered one of the technological foundations of mesh networks. They were the links that made possible the connection between different networks due to their range of up to one kilometer.

This video shows step-by-step how to build a Biquad antenna.

Paquete de APK
SIEM is an alternative distribution business for mobile applications through the Weekly Package.
Collaboration: Weekly Package OMEGA Matrix and SIEM Team

With the creation of the Weekly Package came different folders and sections to distribute digital media. Soon this network was used by third parties as a promotional and distribution channel for digital media. 

SIEM is a group of Cuban software and application programmers. Emerged in 2015, they provide multiple services, from application development to device repair and installation of pirated video games. They created a folder in the Weekly Package to distribute and sell PC and Android system video games. Users could make requests, make a payment by phone balance transfer for 50 CUP (equivalent at the time to 2 USD) and receive a week later the programs and/or games of their choice. The SIEM group developed a program called SIEMCodex, which generated unique passwords for each computer and allowed only purchasing users to unzip the folders containing the digital files.

This video shows the steps to follow to acquire video games through this payment process, as well as the development of programs that control access to pirated applications distributed through the Weekly Package. 

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