Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Biometric Abstraction

In the third installment of Corresponsal, Elena Pastor walks us through Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s exhibition Abstracción Biométrica, at Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, with photographs of her visit. Enjoy this new virtual tour without the inconvenience of geographical limitations.


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Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Biometric Abstraction

Curator: Katheleen Forde


In situ text

Throughout his varied artistic career, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s production has been situated between architecture and performance. Many of his works revolve around self-representation, intimacy, intervention, and the key idea that absence and presence are not mutually exclusive opposites. The content of his creations is derived from participation, almost always through technologies that are both violent and seductive. The axis of this exhibition, comprising new and recent work, is the artist’s interest in biometrics and the statistical analysis of biological data. The pieces detect, sample, and process vital indicators and, in so doing, embody, materialize, and accumulate traces of human presence. All the installations are conceptually rooted in emotionally evocative biometric indicators such as heart rate, breathing, physiognomy, kinesiology, and the cornerstone of human communication: the voice.


The breath, the movement, the speech, the facial features, and the pulse of visitors shape the content of the show’s facilities and reveal the relevance not just of our solitary self, but also of the individual’s relationship with the whole of our complex collective lives.


The pieces employ high and low-level technologies such as oxygen sensors, LED lights, custom software applicators, and robotic mechanisms.


However, the use of these is intentionally presented within a context in which technology is universally unavoidable and invades all facets of society, economy, and politics. As the artist often states, technology is, in essence, the very language of globalization, and is now something “natural and normalized,” an influence of which no human being or artist of any kind can escape.


On the other hand, historical references are often found in Lozano-Hemmer’s production ––including Mexican Stridentist poets, Gyula Kosice’s articulated sculptures, Sol LeWitt’s instructions, and the interdisciplinary performances of Fluxus––; these continue to characterize a body of work framed and firmly rooted in a century with a history of experimentation.


Regarding this concrete exploration of the work exhibited, Lozano-Hemmer asserts: “I want to create self-presentation platforms. My production is, by nature, incomplete and experimental. The platforms need people to participate, to be aware of their effects and constraints, and to customize the work. We use technology to create environments in which content is born of the public. If I may play with Frank Stella’s minimalist occurrence ‘what you see is what you see,’ I propose ‘what is given is what is there.’”


This exhibition was originally produced and organized by Borusan Contemporary (Istanbul) under the title «Vicious Circular Breathing.»


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