2- Wires, Waves, and Webs: Media Infrastructures and Electronic Music in Cuba - Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier, University of Victoria
1:30 PM, Friday 24 May 2019 (2 hours)
Coffee break 03:30 PM to 04:00 PM (30 minutes)
Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) - DS-R520
Cuba has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world. This encourages Cubans to create alternative ways of coping with digital scarcity, including hidden wi-fi antennas and ethernet cables strung over streets and rooftops, as well as physical networks of digital media circulation that rely on memory sticks and other portable devices. These alternative networks have emerged to counter the inefficiency and unreliability of Cuba’s official media infrastructures by providing the population with access not only to digital media but also to what presently circulates outside the country. In terms of digital music production, electroacoustic and electronic musicians benefit from these physical networks of circulation by accessing text, audio, and image files, as well as cracked software and plug-ins. Plans to normalize relations between the US and Cuba, announced at the end of 2014, promise to create new opportunities for Cubans—including musicians—in the domains of communication, transportation, and infrastructure.Given such recent (and forthcoming) changes, this presentation explores the creative impacts of evolving media infrastructures on the production and circulation of digital media in Cuba, looking specifically at how “wires, waves, and webs” affect the creation of new collectives and new musicduring a period of rapid economic and political transformation.More specifically, I address the strategies adopted by electronic musicians to access programs, software, and to create music in a context of digital scarcity and through both illicit and legal infrastrcutures, thus showing how infrastructures are generative tools of musical creativity.