Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Recorders - Manchester Art Gallery Exhibition

'Recorders' is the current temporary exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer running from 18th September 2010 - 30th January 2011. It's an interactive exhibition that requires the audience to get involved with the pieces for them to work and the pieces in turn react to the participants. For example, one piece, 'Microphones 2008,' is a set of old style microphones placed in a circle so that people can record a message. When the message is recorded, then the previous participants message is replayed to you so the next time someone records a message yours is the played back. The piece can hold up to 600,000 voices and is designed to be playing back echos of the past, capturing people's moments in time, when they recorded the moment.
 Another piece that I liked from the show was 'Pulse Index 2010,' which was a machine where a person places their finger in a hole and their fingerprint is recorded and played back on a screen along with all of the other participants. I liked the interactivity of it and also seeing the intricacy of my own fingerprint, something I have never seen in such detail before, and also the stark contrasts between other people's fingerprints with my own. The idea of exploring everyone's individuality and then having it stored into a uniformed system was an idea that I found really interesting.

The last piece that really interested me was 'Pulse Room 2006' which is a black room filled with lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling. A person then hold on to two metal bars, like an electric shock machine, and then keeps their grip for up to a minute. When they release their hands the lightbulbs briefly turn off and when they come back on the lightbulb closest to you begins got flash along to your pulse. Everytime a person records their pulse, yours moves across one, keeping one hundred participants pulsing at a time. I liked this because made something invisible into something real and more solid, moving it form something you feel and sometimes hear (a heartbeat) into something you can see. It's like capturing a heart or even spirit and digitizing it and preserving it, and living with 99 other flashing pulses which when in the room almost resemble stars.

Lozano-Hemmer's work brings audience participation and interactivity into a new digital age and the fact that the artwork doesn't work without an audience makes it even more interesting. Although I would rather work in a more traditional way it has made me think more about how thinks affect an audience, how to involve an audience and how to stage things in the best way for the audience for a performance piece I would like to work on soon.

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