Soap bubbles and light bulbs: interactive art from Latin America

November 2008 -

Three long rows of light bulbs hang from the ceiling. When you hold an electronically sensitive handle in each of your hands, the first bulb flashes on and off in the rhythm of your heart beat. At the same time, all of the other bulbs flash on and off in the rhythms of the hundreds of people who did the same thing before you. The interactive installation Almacén de Corazonadas (Storehouse for instincts) by the Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer can be seen at Emergentes. This exposition of electronic art by ten Latin American artists is currently touring the continent and will be in Lima, Peru between October and December 2008 at the Centro Fundación Telefónica.


Almacén de Corazonadas

Interactive art does not simply hang silently on the wall with a name card. It is about technological inventiveness with an artistic dimension, or the other way around, depending on how you look at it. The soap bubble machine by Mariano Rondón from Venezuela, for example, projects enormous soap bubbles on happily gurgling babies and newborn animals. Will fragile life be raised in the future in mechanical wombs like this one? Or the digital letters in the books by the Argentinean artist Mariana Sardón. They change places when you make loud noises, creating new words and meanings: an ironic reference to the universal pretences of science.

Emergentes emphatically claims not to be an over-all exposition. "The exposition shows how Latin American electronic art has developed to date and what inspires contemporary artists", the Peruvian curator José-Carlos Mariátegui explains. "We have not included, for example, the historical-political dimension that is usually characteristic for art from Latin America. The works of art can lend insight into how science and technology can fit in with art and society. They make us stop and think about complicated themes like biogenetics and the influence technology has on our daily lives."

The soundscape Recomputing Space that Rodrigo Derteano from Peru has constructed in a closed space was recorded at seven different locations in Lima. This 'psycho-geographic’ study reproduces the world of taxis, street vendors, cars and passers-by by playing analogue recordings through speakers on the floor. And it works: after only a few seconds you are no longer in a museum but out in the street amidst the chaotic traffic of the metropolis Lima.