Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s work interacts. Sometimes with the viewers in the space, and sometimes with data. For example, Sway (2016), seen below, is a pendulum in the shape of a noose. It’s movements respond to data, with its default metronomic speed at one ‘sway’ every 40-60 seconds, the rate of homicides in the world. I love the idea of representing data in a more visible, tangible way.
The fact that all of his works interact with the real world in some way is so intriguing to me. I like the idea of using the viewers as participants in the artwork. For example, the comment on surveillance seen in Zoom Pavilion (2015) uses footage from cameras trained on the visitors to the show. Face recognition software tracks them and surrounds them with images of the faces in the crowd that is present in the space.
His works often speak of surveillance, including some referencing George Orwell’s 1984. One work shows the numbers 1 9 8 4, sourced from google earth surveillance footage.
Others pick up on the participant and record them, then show them distorted by the process of recording and being watched, from other perspectives. An example of this is First Surface (2012).
Surface Tension (1992) reacts to the viewer as they react to the piece.
Other ways it interacts with the audience is by using their voices, heart rates, and even their breath in several artworks. Some are known as ‘bio feedback sculptures’. An example is Last Breath (2012), which circulates a participant’s breath forever, perhaps a comment on life and death.
My work has often been about putting the viewer in someone else’s shoes. With this current project in which I am making an ‘interactive’ film, I am able to have ‘participants’ in my work. This stops artwork from becoming simply part of the spectacle.