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Features / December 1, 2002

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Body Movies

Installing large-scale, interactive artworks in heavy-traffic zones of cities around the world, Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer explores the intersection between new technologies, public space, active participation and “alien memory.” This year, as part of the Ars Electronica Festival of new-media art in Linz, Austria, the artist transformed the city’s main square for six nights with one of his grandest projects to date.

Body Movies, Relational Architecture 6, a work activated by the participation of passersby, entails more than 1,000 square metres of projections onto the city’s Old City Hall building. Thousands of portraits taken on the streets of Linz , Rotterdam, Madrid, Mexico City and Montreal are projected on giant screens using robotically controlled projectors located on towers around the square. Powerful xenon light sources placed at ground level wash out the portraits, but as people cross the square their shadows appear on the screen and reveal them again. Each time the shadows of the participants match the scale and shape of the projected images, an automatic command introduces a new set of portraits. As the audience discovers the process, the viewers’ play becomes more sophisticated. As they express their identities in a huge public forum, the result is an artwork that invites its participants to retake urban space.

So begins our Winter 2002 cover story. To keep reading, view a PDF of the entire article.