re: Relational Architectures by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Snippets of Lozano-Hemmer’s works can be viewed here! [12:35 and 13:16 for my personal favourite cuts from Body Movies (2011)]

Lozano-Hemmer’s works subject architecture to fluctuation and instability not only in the literal sense that facades are projected with fleeting moving images, but also within the unpredictability of visual outcomes and activities generated. His works invite spontaneous engagements with space and the unfolding of unpredictable social relations within. In doing so, they inject the city with an additional element of surprise, on top of setting up unexpected encounters of illuminated facades for urbanites.

“As Lozano-Hemmer rightfully cautions, there is no guarantee that a work will function in the same way everywhere.”

The same intervention generates a variety of responses and engagements from people at different sites, from different cultures, from different walks of life. Personally, it is this spontaneous and performative quality to his Relational Architectures series that I enjoy most. The playful ephemeral engagements from passersby are in stark contrast with the canvas of monumental architecture that they take place on – with the impression of rigidity and stasis. A city is full of movement and life, yet these moving images generated by spontaneous participants are able to shift the city in ways other “human activity” and ordinary traffic cannot. They are able to stop people in their tracks to look and engage more actively with a space, using their bodies. Lozano-Hemmer’s works invite human activity, or more specifically human embodiment, that is personalised; projections of actual shapes of man onto the city stand out from its flurry of light and white noise. 

As I was viewing his works, I reflected on how similar technologies could be used to incorporate greater participatory elements to the projection installations at different Singapore art festivals. I wrote in the Heritage Light Up reflections that I hoped the average Singaporean passerby could see him/herself or a personal contribution physically manifest on the facade of our national monuments. There is definitely appeal to being handed some control and power to manipulate something larger than yourself, in both personal and collective settings. 

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