[-empyre-] Relational space, urban screens, arrays

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer errafael at gmail.com
Wed Jul 25 12:23:45 EST 2012

Dear Empyre,

Thank you all for the opportunity to be here. I am about to do three things I quite dislike seeing from lurkers like myself:

1) Make remarks without having read previous postings thoroughly. (Sorry, I was caught by the fraudulent Mexican election and have been translating and organizing intensely).
2) Use my works to illustrate my remarks.
3) List rather than thread my loose notes.

Apologies for this! I still thought it would be better to input my two centavos than to stay quiet. I do intend to read the list thoroughly and probably have to apologize again at that time.

o My first "serious" media art work, --"Surface Tension" made in 1992 with my collaborators Will Bauer and Susie Ramsay--, was a large projected human eye that followed the public. At a time when the term "virtual space" was still being used often, I wrote about the installation happening in the "relational space" of virtual elements "looking back at" and actualizing the space of our bodies. A virtual space was about the suspension of disbelief, about simulation, about leaving the body behind; whereas I presented relational space as about incredulity itself, about things dissimulating being something other than themselves and about amplifying the body. The word relational was ok back then as Bourriaud was years away from publishing his book (I got the word from Lygia Clark's "Relational Objects"). The idea of on-screen content invading our space of course was not new, but what mattered to me then was the materialization, in our space, of surveillance and predatory vision. http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/surface_tension.php

o The notion of "Relational Space" was about seepage of disparate planes of experience across or despite screens. It is all a bit silly now, as now everything is relational space (and probably it always was!), but it is clear that the technical holy grail of relational space is still the disappearance of the screen: it is something like the post-photographic 3D projection device described in Bioy Casares' novel "Morel's Invention". The closest I came to do something like this was in 1995 with an installation that indexed the 3D location of two remote participants, using robotic lights.

o "Body Movies" may be a successful "urban screen" from the perspective of interaction, --we have almost a hundred hours of video of what people did-- but in my opinion this is not due to the building/screen displaying portraits but due to the shadow play and its relationship to the colossal. I am pretty sure that if we eliminated the tracking systems, images and sound, and just left the shadows it would still be a successful urban intervention. But what if we removed the colossal and added a level of intimacy? The installation "Under Scan" tries that...the screen is your own shadow at its regular scale. Or the newer "Sandbox" keeps the colossal but adds the minuscule in a direct interplay

o The reports on the death of the screen are exaggerated, true. But also true is that: 
a) Everything now can be a pixel --I am making a 3D display right now out of thousands of brown-paper bags (just like Trimpin or Popp used water, Fujihata used networked lightbulbs, Rozin wood or trash, Stadtwerkstadt or CCC used building windows, Sauter used spheres, and a long etc). Interactive arrays for displays are here to stay and we need to continue thinking about how exactly these displays require different screen theory. For instance, my brown paper bags are full of glue and walking among them really stinks.
b) The grid array can and will disappear. My project "Autopoiesis" uses a laser projector which does not have a lens as the image is focused on all planes. Granted the resulting image is pixelated but that is because of the source not a function of the projector. The laser projection is polar, angular, and someone soon will think of a way to serve it non-cartesian continuous feeds. Let me say it again: the image is in focus on all planes!

Best regards

   rafael at lozano-hemmer.com

   4060 Blvd. St-Laurent, studio 107
   Montréal Québec H2W 1Y9 Canada
   Tel. 1-514-597-0917 ext 304
   Fax 1-514-597-2092
   Cell 1-514-983-0209

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   "Si acaricias el círculo
   lo harás vicioso" -- Ionesco

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