Rodolfo Peraza’s “Pilgram” is a dynamic analysis of 35 recently opened public WiFi access points in Cuba. As he travels through Cuba to visit these sites, Peraza will produce a multifaceted visual documentation of the transformation brought about by increased Internet access. A specially developed open-source PHP scraper app extracts information from web traffic, tweets, and comments at the new Wi-Fi points; this module produces a hierarchy of terms, takes into account the relevance of specific words, and renders the information into sunburst forms that update as the scraper aggregates new information. The project aims to pay close attention to the ways in which Cuban lives are affected by access to connective technology. Local residents at the different sites will be interviewed about their use of the WiFi points, yielding an added register of information which Peraza will present alongside the scraper charts. As its name — an unlikely amalgam of “pill,” “pilgrim,” and “Instagram” — suggests, the project explores the purported positive and palliative effect of increased digital connectivity, the complicated role of the documentarian, and the specificity of the medium through which Peraza circulates his research findings (BOFFO’s Instagram account, @boffo_ny). The diverse references folded into this title suggest a deeply complicated relation between Cuban society and the Internet; Peraza’s project seeks to document this relation in all of its rich complexity, rather than portraying a simplified technological narrative.
Rodolfo Peraza was born in Cuba in 1980, a year closely associated with the birth of “new Cuban art.” He belongs to a generation of young artists that inherited a legacy of hard-fought freedom of individual artistic expression. Using the Internet, social media, and animation, Peraza creates work that explores the moral, spiritual, and social modes of conduct governing society. His work traverses the confines of geographic and personal borders through technology, and questions of identity and isolation ring throughout. In 2005, Peraza founded Fanguito Estudio, a Havana artist-run space focused on new media art that ran until 2010. Peraza received a BA in sculpture from the Instituto Superior de Arte, and currently lives between Havana and Miami. His work has been exhibited internationally, at venues including the Havana Biennale, Toronto Contemporary Art Museum, and Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam; his work is part of the permanent collections of the Fundación Jumex and the Art Gallery of Ontario.