User Preferences: Tech Q&A With Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

User Preferences: Tech Q&A With Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, “Body Movies, Relational Architecture 6”, 2006. Museum of Art, Hong Kong, China. Photo: Antimodular Research

Each week we chat about the tools of the trade with one outstanding creative to find out exactly how they do what they do. The questions are always the same, the answers, not so much. This week: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

Who are you and what do you do?
I am a Mexican artist based in Montreal and I make interactive installations, often in public space.

What hardware do you use?
Custom-built LED arrays, projectors, linear actuators, surveillance equipment, arduinos and other open hardware, Atmel micro-controllers, electroluminescent cable, Xbox Kinects, iPod touch, Xenon searchlights, PCs and Macs, RF scanners, FM transmitters, and a long et cetera.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, “33 Questions per Minute, Relational Architecture 5”, 2003. “Recorders”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2011. Photo by: Antimodular Research

What software do you use?
We have developed a lot of our own software using Embarcadero Delphi, which is the platform of choice for Conroy Badger, the studio’s senior engineer. Often we use open source software such as OpenCV and sometimes commercial products like Seeing Machines’ faceAPI face recognition software. Some of our new projects are made with openFrameworks and Objective-C.

If money were no object, how would you change your current setup?
I would set up a studio in Mexico City and hire local engineers and artists to develop art projects, but also to teach economically-disadvantaged students.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, “Blow-Up, Shadow Box 4”, 2007. Photo by: Antimodular Research

What fantasy piece of technology would you like to see invented?
A tiny device that takes over the brain of fundamentalists of all sorts and makes them question what they fervently believe. We would first try it our on the Pope and, if it is safe, then I would try it myself.

Is there any piece of technology that inspired you to take the path you did?
Difficult question! Maybe the incandescent lightbulb?

What’s your favourite relic piece of technology from your childhood?
8-track cartridges.