Lozano-Hemmer’s works offer a nuanced view of the emancipatory rhetoric of participation and digital media aesthetics, reminding us of technology’s complex and often problematic involvement in broader social, economic and political contexts. The artist starts from the understanding that technology is not an instrument or tool, but an inevitable form of determination of subjectivity and sociability. His work seeks to activate relationships between machine, environment and perception, trough a play with the senses in order to show the way in which technology, body, and political body are inseparable.

The exhibition brings together 26 of his most important works including:

Pulse Spiral, 2008
300 light bulbs are arranged in a spiral paraboloid according to one of Pierre de Fermat’s (1607–1665) mathematical equations. As a participant holds the sensor, her heartbeat is detected and sets off the lowest bulb in the spiral; when she releases it, all the lights turn off briefly and then flicker as the most recent pulse displaces, by one, each of its predecessors. The magical and evanescent spiral of light betrays the undeniable fascination one may feel as one actually sees one’s heartbeat, but also the power to activate light on such a large scale.

Light is used as a material and as a subject in many of Lozano-Hemmer’s participative public art projects, and throughout the exhibition, light and shadow are employed to activate the space. In Voice Array, 2011, for instance, participants’ voices are translated into columns of light that circulate around the perimeter of the gallery.

Zoom Pavilion, 2015
Is a room-sized interactive installation in which the viewer/participant is surrounded by projected black-andwhite images of faces and bodies localized within the space. Twelve computerized surveillance cameras track the presence of participants and, employing facial recognition, background subtraction and machine-learning algorithms, record their spatial relationships to one another. Terms and figures emerge—potential, interest, remote, perspective—which circumscribe, describe and measure our relationships with others in the space. Projected onto the back wall is an archive that shows faces of participants in pairs, specifying how long they were together, how far apart they remained and when this assembly happened. The cameras amplify our faces up to thirty-five times, creating huge close-ups and thus literally zooming into our gaze, and also zoom out to show the whole room, emphasizing the entire immersive landscape. In Zoom Pavilion, which marks Lozano-Hemmer’s first collaboration with the artist Krzysztof Wodiczko, the omnipresence of surveillance cameras is clearly signalled, but what is similarly at stake is the way technologies determine and control the circulation of information, images, and data. How do we interact with one another in public space, how do we react when our spatial relationships are tracked, where does all the information that technologies gather end up.

Vicious Circular Breathing, 2013
It’s a large sculptural installation that evokes both a curious scientific device and a gigantic musical wind instrument, like an organ. Made up of a series of interconnected elements, including a glass room with double sliding doors, emergency exits, carbon dioxide and oxygen sensors, motorized bellows, an electromagnetic valve system and a tree-like arrangement of sixty-one paper bags hanging from respiration tubes, the work is presented as a large, continually changing apparatus that visitors can personally experience. They are invited to enter the hermetically sealed glass box where they breathe air that was previously breathed by participants before them. The breaths are kept circulating and made perceptible by the action of the bellows, which inflate and deflate the brown paper bags around 10,000 times a day (approximately the normal respiratory frequency for an adult at rest). The piece includes warnings regarding the risks of asphyxiation, contagion and panic, and produces a faint mechanical sound, a quiet whir from the air flow and a louder crackle from the crumpling bags. Suggesting an unusual link between the dangers of technological modernity and immersion as an art form inherited from the Baroque, the work also seems to emphasize that the tangible aspects of participative culture and new technologies are in dissociable from their collusion with a broader regime of systemic violence.

Sphere Packing: Bach, 2018
It belongs to a series of seventeen works that concentrate the entire musical production of a composer into a single multi-channel sphere. The size of each sphere is proportional to how prolific the composer was. Johann Sebastian Bach -by far the most prolific composer- required 1,128 individual speakers distributed through the sphere that visitors may physically enter and thus immerse themselves in the Baroque sounds. The compositions are arranged so that at times only one is audible while at others, the piece reaches a musical crescendo when all 1,128 compositions are playing simultaneously.

Call on Water, 2016
Exhibited in semi-darkness, it’s a fountain that acts as a poetry machine activated by the presence of spectators. On the basin’s surface there appear words that ultrasonic atomizers make briefly tangible in the air in the form of plumes of cold vapour. The words gently form and dissolve, the surface of the basin is then covered up again with a layer of white vapour, and new words appear. In this way, emerging from the fountain fragment by fragment, we see poems by the celebrated Mexican writer Octavio Paz (1914–1998), who was also the artist’s uncle. The poems quoted all involve language: the way we see the world through words, and the way words reflect our own image back to us. The work suggests that words materialize in the air, carried by the breath of those who speak them, then dissolve or remain mysteriously lodged there and are physically incorporated by those who hear or read them.

These metaphors also appear in other works in the exhibition, such as Airborne, 2013, Vicious Circular Breathing, 2013, Babbage Nanopamphlets, 2015, and Volute 1: Au clair de la lune, 2017.

Other pieces that will be exhibited are: 33 Questions per Minute, 2000; Seismoscopes, 2009; Bifurcation, 2012; PanAnthem, 2014 and Level of Confidence, 2015; Synaptic Caguamas, 2004; and 1000 Platitudes, 2003; in addition, during the course of the exhibition, the screening of the film Megalodemocrat: The Public Art of Rafael LozanoHemmer directed and produced by Ben Duffield will take place.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Unstable Presence is co-organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For the presentation at MARCO, the MAC and SFMOMA, acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

© MUSEO DE ARTE CONTEMPORÁNEO DE MONTERREY, 2016 | Zuazua y Jardón S/N, Centro. Monterrey, N.L. Mexico, 64000 | Ph. +52 (81) 8262.4500

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