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Internet de madera [Wooden Internet]

21st century
55.1 cm x 56.5 cm x 38.6 cm (21 11/16 in. x 22 1/4 in. x 15 3/16 in.)

Abel Barroso (Pinar del Río, Cuba, 1971 - ) Primary

Object Type: sculpture
Artist Nationality: Latin America, Cuban
Medium and Support: Wood, ink, paper
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Fran Magee and Gallery 106, 2003
Accession Number: 2003.82

Abel Barroso’s work uses humor and a low-tech interpretation of modern communications to comment on contemporary Cuban society and politics. Barroso, who trained as a printmaker, constructs his sculptures from used wood printing blocks that are themselves made from everyday materials such as plywood packing cases. In Internet de madera, the artist has created a “third world Internet” from carved plywood: a printed scroll serves as a “screen” that the viewer/user can move by manually turning the levers on the side. The consumerist use of the Internet is emphasized, though the series of photographs displayed on the “screen” were taken in the street markets in Cuba, thus conflating the fantasy of e-commerce with the reality of everyday transactions. This hybrid Internet machine/cash register is full of comical references to the high-tech global world to which Cubans have little access. For example, a credit card (American credit cards are illegal in Cuba) made of wood and carved with the word fantasía (“fantasy”) and a wooden 3 1/2–inch floppy disk both lie on the keyboard. This eternally unplugged and unconnected Internet machine is a powerful metaphor for Cuba’s place in the world and also a critique of the consumerist fantasies of developed societies

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