Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Internationally renowned, Mexican-Canadian artist debuts interactive sculpture in third United States solo show.

October 25 – November 29, 2008

bitforms gallery is pleased to announce the third U.S. solo exhibition with Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Best known for creating large-scale interactive installations in public spaces throughout Europe, Asia and America, Lozano-Hemmer’s kinetic sculpture Wavefunction, which made its debut at the 52nd Venice Biennial, and Less than Three will have their United States premiere. Running concurrently (October 24 – November 17) will be Pulse Park, a large public art installation in New York City’s Madison Square Park, the artist’s first outdoor work in the United States.

Employing technology such as robotics, sensors, cell phones, projections and custom-made devices as a means to address technology’s ubiquity rather than its newness, Lozano-Hemmer is able to reposition our interaction with everyday objects such as chairs, belts, overhead lighting or bottles and create viable locations of inquiry and interaction. The theme of surveillance is also recurring in Lozano-Hemmer’s work, and though it is at times perceived as playful and at other times violent, his installations always seek to engage the viewer in a critical way.

Wavefunction will transform the gallery space into a responsive environment with a kinetic sculpture comprised of fifty Charles and Ray Eames-molded chairs that react to the presence of the viewer. Originally conceived by Lozano-Hemmer for the Mexican Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennial, this work reflects his broad range of interests from the mathematics of dynamic systems, the materialization of surveillance and turbulence, and the reinterpretation of the work of modern designers.

Melding theatre and performance, Lozano-Hemmer’s work often necessitates the participation of the viewer in order to function. When a viewer approaches Wavefunction, a computerized surveillance system detects his or her presence and the closest chairs automatically begin to lift off the ground, creating the crest of a wave that then spreads over the whole room. “The effect is ghostly and slapstick (“please don’t get up”),” writes Marcia E. Vetrocq, “though it’s based in some serious technology that involves surveillance systems and a program that generates mechanical behaviors.” A system of electromechanical pistons are controlled by a computer that runs the mathematics of fluid dynamics, thus making the waves interfere with each other, creating turbulence or becoming calm, just like real water. There is a screen displayed on an adjacent wall in the gallery revealing to the viewer the surveillance system at work; when several people enter the room, their presence affects the entire group of chairs, creating chaotic patterns of interference.

Displayed at the entrance of the gallery, Less than Three is a baroque network of light tubes that suggests the convolutions of communication. As a participant speaks into a nearby intercom, their voice is translated into corresponding flashes of light and this light pattern is transmitted visually along one of the several possible pathways through the network. When it reaches the other side, the viewer’s phrase is once again released as sound.

Concurrent Public Exhibitions:

Madison Square Park, New York, Oct 24 – Nov 17: Pulse Park
Pulse Park is comprised of a matrix of light beams that graze the central oval field of Madison Square Park. Its intensity is entirely modulated by two sensors that measure the heart rate of participants and the resulting effect is the visualization of vital signs, arguably our most symbolic biometric, in an urban scale. Two hundred theatrical lights with a narrow beam are placed uniformly around the perimeter of the central field. Mounted parallel to the ground, at ground level, the lights provide subtle illumination of the grass field and the feet of passers-by. Two metal sculptures with embedded sensors are placed along both ends of the oval field and detect the pulse of people who touch them. The systolic and diastolic readings are immediately converted into light pulses by computers in such a way that the heartbeat of the most recent participant is visualized on the light closest to the sensor, while older recordings are sequentially passed onto farther lights. When no one is participating, the matrix shows the heart rate recordings for the last 200 people who tried the interfaces.

Trafalgar Square, London, Nov 15 – Nov 23: Under Scan
Under Scan is a large scale video art installation that links high technology with strategies of self-representation, connective engagement and urban entitlement. Thousands of “video-portraits” taken in London will be projected onto the ground of Trafalgar Square, which has 200,000 passers-by on an average day. At first, the portraits will not be visible because the space will be flooded by white light coming from the world’s most powerful projector. As the shadows of passers by are cast on the ground, portraits are revealed. The short video sequences begin with the subjects in a still position turned away from the camera. As they appear within pedestrians’ shadows, their bodies move and their heads turn to look straight at the pedestrian, establishing eye contact. When a shadow moves away from a portrait, the portrait likewise reacts by losing interest and looking away.


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is collected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern, London. In 2007, he represented Mexico at the 52nd Venice Biennale. Exhibitions of his work include the Museo Nacional Centro de Reina Sofía, Madrid; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; CCC Moscow; Barbican Centre, London; Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City; The Museum of Art, Hong Kong; The Jumex Collection, Estado de Mexico; Daros Foundation, Zürich; Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami; Kulczyk Foundation, Poznan; Art Basel Unlimited; and the art biennials of New Orleans, Shanghai, Sydney, Liverpool, Istanbul, Seville, Seoul, Graz, and Havana. Born in 1967 in Mexico City, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer received a B. Sc in Physical Chemistry from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where he resides.

In 2008, Lozano-Hemmer will install public art pieces in Trafalgar Square, London; Madison Square Park, New York; Québec City for its 400th Anniversary Celebrations; and Prince Charles Quay in Cardigan, Wales as one of the commissioned artists for Channel 4’s The Big Art Project. A recipient of the International Bauhaus Award in Dessau, his honors also include the Golden Nica from Ars Electronica, a Rockefeller Fellowship, a Daniel Langlois Foundation grant, two British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards in Interactive Art, and the Trophée des Lumières in Lyon. Also in 2008, he was commissioned to present his first permanent public art installation in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco Square to mark the fortieth anniversary of the student massacre that occurred there in 1968. His first United States retrospective, “Recorders” is slated to open at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, in February 2009.

For more information visit: www.bitforms.com and www.lozano-hemmer.com

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