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April 22, 2005

Subtitled Public


Words Exchange

Subtitled Public, by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, consists of an empty exhibition space where visitors are tracked with a computerized infrared surveillance system. As people enter the installation, texts are projected onto their bodies: these "subtitles" consist of thousands of verbs conjugated in third person and they follow each individual everywhere they go. The only way to get rid of a subtitle is to touch someone else: the words then are exchanged between them.

Subtitled Public invades the supposed neutrality of the space that museums and galleries set-up for contemplation, underlining the violent and asymmetric character of observation. The piece reveals the danger of surveillance systems that typecast and try to detect different ethnic groups or suspicious individuals, as in the latest computer-vision devices that are being deployed in public spaces around the world. The installation is also an ironic commentary on this era of technological personalization, literally "theming" and "branding" each spectator.

Electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (Mexico City, 1967) will be showing his latest interactive installation at "El Cubo" at the Sala de Arte P ublico Siqueiros in Mexico City from April 7th through May 22nd, 2005.

Lozano-Hemmer uses technology explicitly as a way of understanding and criticizing from within some of the paradoxes of our mediated culture, creating intersubjectively binding reference systems. The artist refers to his work as relationship-specific, rather than site-specific, aiming to establish environments where a performative experience can develop, a critical and a connective experience, a kind of communion: communion understood as the acknowledgement of complicity.

For the past fifteen years Lozano-Hemmer has been developing art works that explore the intersection between architecture, interactivity and performance art. His "Relational Architecture" series of large-scale interventions in public space employs custom-made technologies to transform urban environments. Among his most notable works is the transformation of the Zocalo Square in Mexico City with searchlights controlled by participants over the Internet. This piece, Vectorial Elevation, has also been staged in Spain, France and Ireland, drawing massive participation to the project website at www.alzado.net. His works in photography, video and installation are present in important international collections and have been shown at the Istanbul, Havana, Liverpool and Shanghai Biennials among other exhibitions. Currently he is artist in residence at the Institute for Research in Construction of the Canadian National Research Council. Videos, texts and images of his works can be found at www.lozano-hemmer.com.

Posted by jo at April 22, 2005 08:59 AM