psychic resonance, surveillance and a murmuration of lights

Yoshiko Yap

“They stole my experience,” shouts a ten-calendar year-old boy into a microphone, before stomping absent.

We are in the Rafael Lozano-Hemmer exhibition Atmospheric Memory at the Powerhouse in Sydney. The boy’s photograph was taken as soon as he entered the exhibition and then publicly projected on to his shadow.

Like the social media it replicates, the exhibition information is a merchandise of its end users – which can really feel like theft.

The major exhibition room, Atmospheres, consists of a amount of distinct will work together with a drinking water-spray wall. The mist coming from the wall is a response to alterations in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the ambiance around time. It forms cloud-like visual texts when audience customers speak into a microphone.

Atmospheric Memory by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Cloud Display screen (2019). Photographer, Zan Wimberley @zanwimberley.

On the walls and flooring of the primary exhibition place, there are projected outsize illustrations or photos – a relocating feast of text and information. These photos and facts depict the chaos of the digital world and the ubiquity of electronic tracking technologies in city environments.

All this digital imagery and scrambled text is a bit manic and unsettling.

Some of these aspects from the Mexican-Canadian artist Lozano-Hemmer have been individually exhibited in Australia and internationally right before. But brought with each other, the frenetic exercise of so lots of competing aspects in a single room compromises their specific outcome, particularly as some recording elements had been not functioning on the working day.

A jumble of text projected on three walls in a large room.
Atmospheric Memory by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Text Stream II. Photographer, Zan Wimberley @zanwimberley.

Themes of surveillance

The principal work in the exhibition is identified as Zoom Pavilion. A tower supports 24 robotic cameras, which track site visitors as we enter the area and report our overall look to the projectors, throwing our pictures onto the ground and the partitions all around us.

This do the job is a collaboration among Lozano-Hemmer and the groundbreaking Polish projection artist Krzysztof Wodiczko, and presents Wodiczko’s nicely-known theme of surveillance.

People stand under their surveilled reflections.
Atmospheric Memory by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Zoom Pavilion. Photographer, Zan Wimberley @zanwimberley.




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This type of artwork is what Lozano-Hemmer phone calls “relational architecture”, invoking the concepts of engagement and social experimentation (the “relational”) and the created natural environment.

He has also explained these performs as “platforms for public participation” and “technological theatre”: artworks that attempt to increase general public place with gigantic interactive projections built to provide individuals collectively in a playful way.

A woman stands under white lights.
Atmospheric Memory by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Field Atmosphonia. Photographer, Zan Wimberley @zanwimberley.

In yet another place, Area Atmosphonia is a dynamic gentle exhibit accompanied by 3,000 unique sound channels, such as industry recordings of insects and hundreds of forms of birds. It is the complexity of the pure planet transposed into the electronic.

Picture a murmuration of lights accompanied by sounds. Website visitors wander in confused styles, in sync with the pulses of gentle. A number of toddlers, enchanted by the sounds and lights, run frantically absent from their mother and father and back again.

Missing connections

This Sydney version of the clearly show incorporates an eccentric variety of objects from the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ selection.

Atmospheric Memory by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, The Greenhouse showcasing the Edison tin-foil phonograph. Photographer, Zan Wimberley @zanwimberley.

These objects contain a boomerang, two terrariums with plants and rocks, 3 glass-blown bush-plum designs by artist Yhonnie Scarce and, in the foyer, a slow-shifting photographic panorama of late-19th-century misty Blue Mountains from the collection of Charles Kerry.

The connections among these assortment things and Lozano-Hemmer’s work are hard to understand, apart from that they all hook up to the atmosphere in several ways … at a extend. The inclusion of the boomerang and glass designs smacks of 1st Nations tokenism.

Recreated, reformed and re-presented

The overarching idea for Atmospheric Memory is that voice activation and graphic recording can be saved then endlessly recreated, reformed and re-offered to the audience.

Lozano-Hemmer attributes the origins of this idea to British 19th-century engineer and inventor Charles Babbage, who claimed great recollection is a calculation of the movement of all air molecules and could be rewound to reveal hidden voices.

Lozano-Hemmer has repositioned Babbage’s desire in psychic resonance and spirit reflection together with his technological forecasting.




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Atmospheric Memory by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Airbourne Projection. Photographer, Zan Wimberley @zanwimberley.

It is controversial that Babbage’s suggestions really had been the precursor to the digital interconnection and uncanny surveillance strategies of the 21st century, as suggested by this exhibition. But Babbage also fell for the late-19th-century mystic allure of life-dying illusionism, replayed listed here as the digital/genuine dichotomy.

Each things (illusionism and technological know-how) are in engage in in the exhibition, but are not fixed.

However, the rooms were being packed with people taking pleasure in the interactive factors. Even the kids who ended up concerned about their stolen faces seemed to be having a fun time.

Just after pointing out the central issue of the demonstrate, the similar boy returned to the mic to shout “Bye!” as he scurried off following his mom.

Atmospheric Memory is at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, till November 5.

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