Rafael Lozano-Hemmer @ the Canada Council
Posted 12 August 2014
A short interview with media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer about his interactive installation The Year's Midnight in the lobby of the Canada Council’s offices at 150 Elgin Street in Ottawa.
John: Who is that man with smoke coming out of his eyes? It’s none other than Rafael Lozano-Hemmer who is here at the Canada Council offices to work on his new installation piece, or the installation of his piece. Rafael, what is the name of this work?
Rafael: This work’s called The Year’s Midnight, and it’s a piece that uses eye‑tracking to basically capture and extract they eyeballs of the public and then generate bellowing smoke out of the organs.
John: And what is the inspiration for this piece?
Rafael: This piece was inspired by representations of Saint Lucy and baroque paintings. As you may know, Saint Lucy pulls out her eyes and presents them to a pagan who wants to marry her, on a tray on the lower side of the display. So that’s what the piece does, except in real time. It sort of has this question about who is the observer and who is the observed.
John: And what does it mean to you to have this piece installed here at the Canada Council’s new headquarters?
Rafael: It’s great. They invited me to do something with this, sort of, irregularly-sized display. What we decided to do was to create a piece that would map (ph) to that shape, so the idea of having something that is very architectural in a location like the Council is great because you have the visibility, but you also have the sense of presence; of presence of performance. Media Art has always been, for the Council, an important part of, sort of, Canadian cultural development, so in this kind of installation, it finally comes back home; it finally comes back to where it originates.
John: Excellent. On that note, Rafael, I guess I’m going to join you on the screen here and get my eyeballs burning.
Rafael: Yeah, of course.
John: This is John Sobol and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer coming to you from the new Canada Council for the Arts headquarters in Ottawa. Come on down and see his new exhibition, the amazing interactive piece by Rafael Lozano‑Hemmer. Thank you, see you later.