Luis Miguel Valdés is no longer a freak, Interview with Estrella Diaz, VII Salon of Digital Art, 2006

Scholars of the history of digital art in Cuba (which by the way are not many) agree that one of the pioneers of the demonstration on the island is Luis Miguel Valdés, a creator who has continued to participate systematically in the different editions of the International Salons and Colloquiums of the specialty that for eight years has been sponsored and convened by the Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center.

Luis Miguel shares his life between Mexico and Havana and, as has been announced by the organizing committee of the VIII Salon to begin on June 19, the restless artist will participate with a kind of presentation and also with an installation product (to call it a some way).

How did the idea for the CTRL-ALT-DEL (Tribute to David J. Bradley) project come about?

It is a mixture of many things. A month ago I inaugurated in my gallery here in Mexico a personal exhibition that I titled DECANTANDO. In it he showed works from 30 years ago as a reference to the path that an artist travels and how he polishes his language until he decants the expressive elements and all the aspects that define his work over time. The objectives are refined and the shell is removed to arrive at the synthesis of what one really wants.

What is new about this project?

I don't know that and it doesn't worry me, because of the coincidences between artists. Maybe someone else is thinking about similar things and you find out later. What interests me is to highlight a concept that had a very concrete beginning and that today is applied to many aspects that do not have to do directly with its origin. It is also intended to eliminate the boundaries established between "art" and "digital art." When I participated in the Digital Salon in 2003, I said in the colloquium that year that what most interested me was that the moment would come when the last name could be removed from the event and it would be an art event and that the medium did not define it.

Under what criteria does the city of Havana appear in CTRL-ALT-DEL?

Anyone who knows my work and knows me, will understand why Havana appears in every step I take (despite being born in Pinar del Río). Since 1975, when I made the linoleum engraving of La Catedral de La Habana (multi-awarded in that year and exhibited in numerous national and international exhibitions, collection of the National Museum), Cuban colonial architecture is a constant in my work.

In 1977, Dr. Martha Arjona asked me for a folder of etchings for the UNESCO Regional Office that I entitled LA SIEMPRE HABANA. This folder had 5 engravings and it had a stamp that I made especially for that folder and today it is the logo of my engraving workshop in Mexico called LA SIEMPRE HABANA. Every corner of My city is part of my life.

In various ways you have participated in previous editions of the International Digital Art Salons and Colloquia. I remember him reflecting on the colloquia and also his personal exhibition From saffron to lily at ICAIC. How important is this type of event?

I believe that the work carried out by the Pablo de la Torriente Brau Center and especially its director Víctor Casaus, is one of the most important events in Cuban art in recent years. It is normal and always has been, to hold Plastic Arts salons, contests, meetings of all kinds, salons for specialties, even the Havana Biennial. However, the Center and Víctor played it eight years ago when prejudices about digital art were still the order of the day.

When I started working on the computer at ISA in 1986, I was a weirdo and those who called themselves avant-garde artists at that time (read Rubén Torres Llorca, Arturo Cuenca, etc.) questioned the results we were obtaining at the Laboratory. Computer Graphics (as it was called) at ISA. Even art critics such as Gerardo Mosquera and Alejandro G. Alonso were unaware of what was done in that environment at that time, surely because my almost belonging to the generation of the 70s and also the stigma of being an engraver made them think that it was impossible for someone of that generation he was working in a new medium that would come to revolutionize the plastic arts.

When digital art loses its last name, which I hope will happen soon, to the Pablo Center and to Víctor Casaus, it will be necessary to recognize the value of having faced a titanic task in clearing the way for new expressive forms. You just have to think about how all the works that were presented at the Ninth Havana Biennial would have been received in Cuba with new technologies, if there were no precedent of 7 digital art salons.

Estrella Diaz
Pablo de la Torriente Brau Center
Havana, Cuba - June 2006