Rafael Lozano-Hemmer - Photography of the artist - Photo Credits Alchetron

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Mexico 1967



Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
September 18, 2013
Andreja Velimirović is a passionate content writer with a knack for art and old movies. Majoring in art history, he is an expert on avant-garde modern movements and medieval church fresco decorations. Feel free to contact him via his Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreja-velimirovi%C4%87-74068a68/

We should all strive towards finding things we both love and are good at, for when such circumstances occur, amazing things are bound to happen. So was the case for Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, a Mexican-Canadian electronic artist who’s work can be described as a bridge connecting artistic expression and pure technology. He makes incredible installations using his vast knowledge of electronics and these pieces can not be, in all honesty, compared to anything we’ve seen before. Lozano-Hemmer’s pieces differ drastically when compared to each other – they include everything from seemingly simple computer chips nailed to the wall to breathtaking video performances that border visuals from modern science fiction films.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer - Solar Equation in Melbourne, 2010 - 2016 works performance project
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – Solar Equation in Melbourne, 2010

Working In A Lab

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer was born in Mexico City in 1967. His parents were nightclub owners, so naturally young Rafael spent many days surrounded by electronics and learned a lot about how to make machines do what he wants them to. After turning 18 years of age, he moved to Canada to study at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and then at Concordia University in Montreal. He had a very diverse education as he studied many different fields he found interesting – from pure physics to art history. Lozano-Hemmer loved learning new stuff, so in order to keep himself satisfied, he constantly explored options by enrolling in different classes. Ultimately, he graduated from both institutions with flying colors. After finishing universities, he initially worked in a molecular recognition lab in Montreal, showing great ability and dedication as evidenced by his publications in Chemistry journals. As was expected, Lozano-Hemmer turned out to be a fantastic technician. However, even though he worked as a scientist, this was never something he desired to pursue. He needed something more, something that was able to challenge him continually, unlike repetitive work the lab provided. It didn’t take long before Lozano made the decision to quit and test himself as an artist. Nevertheless, the time spent working in the lab provided him with a conceptual inspiration and a practical way of thinking he later used on his art. This time marked the beginning of the next chapter in his life, the one that would prove to be even more spectacular then Lozano-Hemmer ever dared to dream. And it’s an interesting chapter as well, as we haven’t seen many artists who get inspired by things such as phantasmagoria and animatronics.

Most of Lozano-Hemmer’s pieces are intended to be witnessed by accidental bypassers

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer -Vectorial Elevation in Vancouver, 2010 - 2016 works performance project
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer -Vectorial Elevation in Vancouver, 2010

Electronics = Art?

Being so skilled and imaginative, it didn’t take long for Lozano-Hemmer to make a name for himself. A master technician full of bright ideas of how to entertain and amaze us – who wouldn’t be interested in seeing that? Soon after deciding to leave the job he had in the Montreal lab, Lozano-Hemmer became famous for his interactive installations that are at the intersection of computer and performance art. As is often the case with creative installations, there are not many rules – Lozano-Hemmer uses both large and small scales, indoor and outdoor settings and a wide variety of audiovisual technologies to achieve his expressive goals. He kind of blurs the line between an artist and a technician as he can pass as both of those things without any problem. His main intent is to create platforms available for public participation and he usually achieves this goal by diverting technologies such as robotics, computerized surveillance or telematic networks. What helps Lozano-Hemmer is his extensive knowledge acquired on the universities he studied – if he was not such an entertaining artist, we could easily feel as we’ve lost an incredibly talented scientist! He created an impressive number of pieces in public spaces across Europe, Asia and America. The main goal of these installations is to interrupt the increasingly homogenized urban conditions and provide the accidental audience with a platform for participation. When video and audio experiences simply aren’t enough to convey a message, Lozano-Hemmer’s installations turn to the use of words and sentences to add additional meaning. Some of the text based installations, such as Third Person and Subtitled Public, place words upon the viewer himself. There’s no need to explain just how much reflective power can be achieved this way. Of course, there are installations like the 33 Questions Per Minute that rely upon the willing participation of the viewer.

Not all of Lozano-Hemmer’s installations rely on your accidental participation

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer - 33 Questions per Minute (detail), 2007 - 2016 works performance project
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – 33 Questions per Minute (detail), 2007

Lozano-Hemmer’s Honours

Lozano-Hemmer held many solo and group exhibitions over the years, attracting nothing less then extreme interest from audiences every single time. However, the natural habitats for most of his pieces are public spaces that differ from galleries. Like early avant-garde movements suggested, placing something in a gallery or a museum immediately gives it an artistic feel, but it also takes a part of the soul that piece of art originally possessed. In that sense, Rafael’s work has much more in common with graffiti and architecture then with anything you can find in a gallery. The exceptions, of course, are his pieces intended for indoors displaying – like the 33 Questions Per Minute piece. His large-scale outdoors installations have been commissioned for events such as the Millennium Celebrations in Mexico City in 1999, the Cultural Capital of Europe in Rotterdam in 2001, the UN World Summit of Cities in Lyon in 2003, the opening of the YCAM Center in Japan in 2003, the Expansion of the European Union in Dublin in 2004, the memorial for the Tlatelolco Student Massacre in Mexico City in 2008, the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 – just to name a few. He has also been awarded for his work on many occasions – most notably when he received the BAFTA British Academy Awards for Interactive Art in London and a Golden Nica at the Prix Ars Electronica in Austria. Considered to be a talented artist and a successful technician, Lozano-Hemmer has been invited to hold speeches at numerous universities and schools, such as Goldsmiths college, Harvard, UC Berkeley and MIT. He also gave lectures in programs of prestigious institutions, including Guggenheim Museum, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Danish Architecture Cente, ICA in London and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer - Pulse Spiral in Moscow, 2009 - 2016 works performance project
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – Pulse Spiral in Moscow, 2009

A Real Modern Artist

As was mentioned before, Rafael is quite different from what we’ve come to expect from artists in general – instead of brushes and such, he uses robotics, real-time computer graphics, film projections, positional sound, internet links, cell phone interfaces, video and ultrasonic sensors, LED screens and other devices. In a way, artists can not get more modern from the level Lozano-Hemmer managed to achieve. He is an excellent example of how artistic expression can be able to keep up with the world that’s starting to completely rely on its technology-based culture and on the exact elements Rafael uses to make his installations. For those reasons, we can never be wrong when calling Rafael Lozano-Hemmer a genuine contemporary artist of our time.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer lives and works in Montreal (Canada) and Madrid (Spain).

Featured Image: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – Photography of the artist – Photo Credits Alchetron
All Images Photo Credits Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Gallery
2016Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: PreabsenceHaus der Elektronischen Künste Basel, Basel, SwitzerlandSolo
2016Nivel de Confianza Post-Screen FestivalLisbon, PortugalGroup
2016Bienal de CuencaCasa Bienal, Cuenca, EcuadorGroup
2015Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: PseudomatismosMuseo Universitario Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, MéxicoSolo
2015Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Lapsus Lumenbitforms gallery, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2015Solar EquationUlm Cathedral, Ulm, GermanySolo
2015Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Polynomials Art Bärtschi & Cie, Genève, SwitzerlandSolo
2015Cómo hacer arte con palabrasMUSAC, León, SpainGroup
2015Art Basel Miami BeachGalería OMR, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2014Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: A Draft of ShadowsBildmuseet, Umeä, SwedenSolo
2014Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Signos e ÍndicesNC-arte, Bogotá, ColombiaSolo
2014Permanent installationInformation Age Gallery, Science Museum, London, United KingdomSolo
2014Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Obra SonoraFletcher Gallery, London, United KingdomSolo
2014Zero NoonFidelity HQ, Boston, Massachusetts, United StatesSolo
2014Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse SpiralExploratorium, San Francisco, California, United StatesSolo
2014Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Abstracción BiométricaFundación Telefónica, Madrid, SpainSolo
2014Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: PolímerosGalería Max Estrella, Madrid, SpainSolo
2014Close up and The Year´s MidnightCanada Council for the Arts, Ottawa, Ontario, CanadaSolo
2014Kochi-Muziris BiennaleKochi, IndiaGroup
2014Art Basel Miami BeachGalería OMR, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2013Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Vicious Circular BreathingBorusan Contemporary, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
2013Pulse RoomInternational Charitable Foundation, Donetsk, UkraineSolo
2013Voice TunnelDOT Summer Streets, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2013An Antipode so close...Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, IndiaGroup
2013Art Basel Miami BeachGalería OMR, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2012Frequency and VolumeSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California, United StatesSolo
2012TrackersFundación Telefónica, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaSolo
2012Open AirPhiladelphia Live Arts, Association for public art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United StatesSolo
2012Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Voice Arraybitforms gallery, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2012Voice Arraybitforms gallery, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2012Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: X no es la nueva YGalería OMR, Mexico City, MéxicoSolo
2012Art Basel Miami BeachGalería OMR, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2012Pulse Miamibitforms gallery, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2011RecordersMuseum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, AustraliaSolo
2011TrackersLa Gaîté Lyrique, Paris, FranceSolo
2011Pulse SpiralPei Ling Chan Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia, United StatesSolo
2011No, No, I Hardly Ever Miss a ShowZacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, PolandGroup
2011Art Basel Miami BeachGalería OMR, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2010Pulse ShowBeall Center, University of California, Irvine, California, United StatesSolo
2010RecordersManchester Art Gallery, Manchester, United KingdomSolo
2010Solar EquationFederation Square, Melbourne, AustraliaSolo
2010Vigilancias MaterializadasGalería Max Estrella, Madrid, SpainSolo
2010Vectorial ElevationCultural Olympiad, English Bay, Vancouver, British-Columbia, CanadaSolo
2010Hyperlinks: Architecture and DesignArt Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United StatesGroup
2010Art Basel Miami BeachGalería OMR, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2009Levels of NothingnessGuggenheim Museum, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2009Transition StatesHaunch of Venison, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2009Pulse GlowPulse Glow Festival, City Hall, Eindhoven, NetherlandsSolo
2009Recent worksGalerie Guy Bärtschi, Genève, SwitzerlandSolo
2009Extra-MurosMutek Festival 10th anniversary, Red light district, Montréal, Québec, CanadaGroup
20095 SolosGalería OMR, Mexico City, MéxicoGroup
2008Rafael Lozano-HemmerHaunch of Venison, London, United KingdomSolo
2008Frequency and VolumeBarbican Centre, London, United KingdomSolo
2008RecordersEdith Russ Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg, GermanySolo
2008Blow-Up Hall 5050 HotelGrazyna Kulczyk Foundation, Poznan, PolandSolo
2008Body MoviesTe Papa Museum, Wellington, New ZealandSolo
2008Body MoviesFête du 400e anniversaire de Qué, Parc de la Cétière, Québec, Québec, CanadaSolo
2008Pulse ParkMadison Square Park, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2008Pulse SpiralCenter for Contemporary Culture - Melnikov Garash, Moscow, RussiaSolo
2008Under scanTrafalgar Square, London, United KingdomSolo
2008Voz AltaMemorial for the Tlatelolco student massacre, Mexico City, MéxicoSolo
2008WavefunctionKulczyk Foundation, Poznan, PolandSolo
2008Rafael Lozano-Hemmerbitforms gallery, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2008Maquinas y Almas - Souls and MachinesMuseo Nacional Reina Sofía, Madrid, SpainGroup
2008Haunch of VenisonNew York City, New York, United StatesGroup
2007Pulse FrontPower Plant, Harbourfront, Toronto, Ontario, CanadaSolo
2007Rafael Lozano-Hemmerbitforms gallery, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2007Some Things Happen More Often Than All Of The TimeMexican Pavilion, 52 Biennale di Venezia, Venice, ItalySolo
2007Art Basel Miami BeachGalería OMR, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2007E-artMusée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, CanadaGroup
2006Under scan, East Midlands Development AgencyCastle Wharf, Nottingham, United KingdomSolo
2006Under scan, East Midlands Development AgencyMarket Square, Derby, United KingdomSolo
2006Under scan, East Midlands Development AgencyHumberstone Gate West, Leicester, United KingdomSolo
2006Body MoviesMuseum of Art, HK Arts Development Council, Hong Kong, ChinaSolo
2006Rafael Lozano-Hemmerbitforms gallery, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2006ARCO '06bitforms gallery, Madrid, SpainGroup
2006ARCO '06Galerie Guy Bärtschi, Madrid, SpainGroup
2005Under scanBrayford University Campus, Lincoln, United KingdomSolo
200533 Questions per MinutePostdamer Platz 10, Berlin, GermanySolo.
2005SubsculpturesGalerie Guy Bärtschi, Genève, SwitzerlandSolo
2005Subtitled PublicSala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico City, MéxicoSolo
2005Art Basel Miami BeachGalería OMR, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2005Beyond DeliriousThe Cisneros Fontanals Foundation, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2004Rafael Lozano-HemmerGalería OMR, Mexico City, MéxicoSolo
2004Vectorial ElevationO'Connell Street, Dublin, IrelandSolo
2004Art Basel Miami BeachGalería OMR, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2004Techniques of the VisibleShanghai Biennial, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2003Relational ArchitecturesLaboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, MéxicoSolo
2003Amodal SuspensionYamaguchi Center for Art and Media, Yamaguchi, JapanSolo
2003Body MoviesDuisburg Akzente, Duisburg, GermanySolo
2003Vectorial ElevationFête des Lumières, Place Bellecour, Lyon, FranceSolo
2003Rafael Lozano-Hemmerbitforms gallery, New York City, New York, United StatesSolo
2003Art Basel Miami BeachGalería OMR, Miami, Florida, United StatesGroup
2003Critical ConditionsWood Street Gallery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United StatesGroup
2002Body MoviesLiverpool Biennial, Williamson Square, Liverpool, United KingdomSolo
2002Two OriginsPrintemps de Septembre Festival, Place du Capitole, Toulouse, FranceSolo
2002Vectorial ElevationOpening project of Artium, Basque Contemporary Art Museum, Vitoria-Gasteiz, SpainSolo
2002Cibervisión 2Conde Duque, Madrid, SpainGroup
2002Egofugal7th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2001Airport ClusterFoto Graphik Galerie Käethe Kollwitz, Berlin, GermanySolo
2001Body MoviesCultural Capital of Europe Festival, V2 Grounding, Rotterdam, NetherlandsSolo
2001Interactiva '00Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Mérida, MéxicoGroup
2001UnknownIstanbul Biennial, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2000Art electrònic a EspanyaSala d'Exposicions de la Caixa de Sabadell, Sabadell, SpainGroup
2000Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam7th Bienal de la Habana, Havana, CubaGroup
1999Vectorial ElevationZócalo Square, Mexico City, MéxicoSolo
1997Re:Positioning Fear3rd Internationale Biennale Film +Architektur, Graz, AustriaSolo
1996Art Futura '99 FestivalSevilla, SpainGroup
1996Interactive Urban LandscapesCopenhagen, DenmarkGroup
1996Viper '98, Webart selectionLucerne, SwitzerlandGroup
1996UnknownFestival de Video de Navarra, Pamplona, SpainGroup
1996Arte Virtual, Realidad PluralMuseo de Monterrey, Monterrey, MéxicoGroup
1996UnknownFestival Internacional de Info-arquitectura, MOPU, Madrid, SpainGroup
1996UnknownNova Scotia Community College, Halifax, Nova-Scotia, CanadaGroup
1996Apple ComputerCupertino, California, United StatesGroup
1995ARCO '95Fundacion Arte y Tecnologia, Madrid, SpainGroup
1995European Media Art FestivalOsnabrück, GermanyGroup
1993UnknownAkademie der Bildenden Kunste, Nuremberg, GermanyGroup
1993UnknownARCO '93, Madrid, SpainGroup
1992On the Same Hand but in a Different VeinGalerie Stornaway, Montréal, Québec, CanadaSolo
1990The Dancers Answer QuestionsBanff National Park, Banff, Alberta, CanadaGroup