Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, "Vectorial Elevation" 1999

I know these videos are long, but they are a great way to learn about this AMAZING light project done in the city of Zócalo, Mexico. Those lights were controlled by the public via internet!

Video artist of Mexican origin, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer created Vectorial Elevation in 1999. This dynamic light beam project was stationed in the large city of Zócalo in Mexico, and the public was given the opportunity to participate in a very grand way. In essence, they were the creators of the patterns that were projected in the night sky for spectators to experience and enjoy. This was made possible via internet, a Global Positioning System device, and massive robotic lights that were placed on the roof tops of tall buildings encircling the city square.

Though highly technological, the system of generating your own light path was simple. All you had to do was log onto a Web site and create a design by clicking a computer mouse and dragging a cursor over the screen. When your entry was presented in the city, you would receive an e-mail and link showing pictures and virtual images of your work. You were also invited to write anything you wanted on this link to share with others. These posts were uncensored, and included everything from dedications to lengthy political statements.

The presentation lasted two weeks, and during this time over 800,000 people visited the interactive Web site from countries around the world. As stated by the authors of Video Art, Lozano-Hemmer conveyed that Vectorial Elevation, “…serves primarily as a platform for public self-expression.” He also mentioned that his work is reflective of the late Thomas Wilfred, who during the 1920s developed works using the premise of light and a keyboard system to create, for instance, Clavilux, a site installation where light was projected on skyscrapers in the city of New York.

It is suggested that Vectorial Elevation is reminiscent of Tribute in Light created in 2002 by Julian LaVerdiere and Paul Myoda to commemorate the lost victims of the destroyed Twin Towers of the 9/11 terrorist attack. As demonstrated in this video and other similar works, light is used in a profound aesthetic and conceptual manner to speak volumes. Although Vectorial Elevation was initially launched in Mexico, it was reenacted in France, Ireland, and Spain. Regardless of where it is preformed, it draws masses of people and remains a powerful form of media art that not only joins people physically but perhaps more importantly, technologically.

Vectorial Elevation Lightshow - Vancouver 2010 from Jon Rawlinson on Vimeo.

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