Rafael Lozano-Hemmer @ the MCA

I think the purpose of art is to make you feel…to make you think; of your surroundings, of places you’ve never visited, things you’ve never imagined, other people’s experiences, a different perspective, it raises emotions, can make your heart skip a beat and your soul sigh. It connects you. To your surroundings, the physical and metaphysical, and to others.

With no expectations, we visited the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art to see the exhibition Recorders.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is a Mexican-Canadian electro-artist. He uses technology like motion sensors, microphones, facial recognition, cameras & heart-rate monitors to create art that is 100% crowd-sourced. His Recorders exhibition is at the MCA til March 2012.

The exhibit is interactive and joyful! I had so much fun!

Lozano-Hemmer in the Pulse Room

picture via LA Times

Usually galleries and exhibitions don’t allow the public to photograph the work but at Recorders the Artist wanted to keep with the theme of public participation and encourages photography. My pictures aren’t so good….they were taken on my phone, but hopefully they’ll give you an idea of what’s what!

On entry you are met with a contraption that resembles an airport xray scanner. It only works if you put objects on the belt; the camera records the object (eg: items from your handbag, wallet or whatever you put onto it) and then projects them onto the belt while adding in other items from memory. It’s a visual collage. 

The Year’s Midnight

Jay as part of the The Year's Midnight
me as The Year's Midnight

The title of this piece is a line of John Donne’s poem “A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy’s Day, Being the Shortest Day“. The work broadcasts the image of the viewer directly in front of it and tracks the whites of the eyes to project out white plumes of smoke. It’s tripy!

Pulse Room

Image from MCA website

This room is amazing. It’s dark, cavernous and filled with hundreds of light bulbs 2m off the ground. There is a hand-held pulse sensor in the back of the room that you hold. It then pushes out the pulse to the light bulbs that flashes the exact rhythm of their heart rate.

my heart rate

The Seimoscope 2 exhibit 

the wall
the Seimoscope of Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali

The seimoscope (yep, that’s how you spell it) uses the latent energy of the people around it to power the drawing of Abu Hamid Muhammad. 

The Pulse Index

Jay's fingerprint
My finger print (middle)
Pulse Index wall
Pulse Index wall
Pulse Index wall

This was one of my favourite works. Using biometrics a little wall-mounted fingerprint sensor takes your pulse (which is broadcasts onto a screen) before displaying your fingerprint as digital wall art on LCD screens. At the time there were over 10,000 people’s fingerprints stored in the work.



This was my other favourite exhibition! Created with 17 vintage microphones which both record and play-back thousands of soundbites from people. To activate it you must speak into a mic, then it will speak back to you from a random recording. We heard people laughing, saying things in various languages (German, Spanish, French, Russian), little kids reciting nursery rhymes, people singing, etc. I immortalised myself by saying “what does the colour blue taste like?” and Jay will be forever captured by his little sound gem “this microphone smells like cabbage”. Too funny!


Jay & I on the Close-Up LCD
Jay & I times infinity

The huge LCD TV screen tracks, records and projects you in real time. It remembers past recordings and also melds those images into the hundreds of little video tiles. 


I definitely recommend you checking out the exhibition if you get a chance. And if you miss it in Sydney, keep an eye out in your major city as the exhibition travels the world.

Voice Array
me (right white top) People on People

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