May 1, 2006

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer was born in Mexico City in 1967. In 1989 he received a B.S. in Physical Chemistry from Concordia University in Montréal, Canada. Rafael develops large-scale interactive installations in public spaces, usually using new technologies. He uses kinetic sculpture, responsive environments, video installation and photography as his elements. He is named an electronic artist because he uses robotics, projections, sound, Internet, and cell-phone links, sensors and other devices. His installations aim to provide "temporary anti-monuments for alien agency". His work has been commissioned for events all over the world including Mexico City, Rotterdam, United Nations, Japan, and Dublin and all over Europe.

Rafael falls under the Film, video, and animation part of our textbook. He has done several installation type pieces using projectors, lights, and very large spaces to project images, and create shadows in public places. It's an installation but it is also using film and video projection also. Usually outside, and in public places his pieces are interactive with the viewer. The context of his work involves the exploration of film in non- traditional ways. Making large interactive images is a newer revolutionary idea. The piece noted in the book is “Body Movies.? This piece was an intricate play with dark and light. Located in 1,200 square meters Schouwburgplein Square in Rotterdam in 2001, the images were portraits of people from cities around the world and were projected onto the walls. When people would walk by their shadows would cast on top of the portraits being projected, creating an interesting light dark contrast of images. While being interactive with the viewer, this procedure also creates dimension by establishing different layers of projection.

View the Body Movies

I enjoyed viewing the “Body Movies,? which I described above, but in my research I also came across several other interesting, yet highly scientific pieces of Lozano-Hemmer. The website above is a link to some of his works.
----“Synaptic Caguamas? is one of his pieces that intrigued me. It is a large motorized table with 30 “Caguama?-sized beer bottles (1-litre each). The bottles spin on the table with patterns generated by cellular automata algorithms that simulate the neuronal connections in the brain. Wow! Who knew that was possible! You have to look at this one it's weird!

View the Synaptic Caguamas

----“Standards and Double Standards? is another interactive installation that consists of fifty fastened belts that are suspended at waist height from the ceiling from motors. Yes, Belts! Each belt is controlled by a computerized tracking system, and rotates automatically to follow the public, turning their buckles slowly to face passers-by. When several people are in the room their presence affects the entire group of belts, creating chaotic patterns. Again, I am amazed by the context of these pieces, I could never think this way, and it's great to see something so unconventional.

View the Standards and Double Standards

For my final piece I am creating an animation, so I thought that I would chose and artist in this same area to provide some inspiration. I feel that Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's non-traditional pieces have opened my mind to the unknown. It gives me a better handle on how abstract a concept can be and still be interesting to the viewer. I also found myself influenced by the fact that all of these pieces are video, but are entwined with technology, to complete the “whole?.

View more of the artist's work