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Citizens

Curator: Neta Gal-Azmon 6.4.2017 - 5.8.2017

 In recent years Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has developed interactive technological installations intersecting architecture with performance. Using technological platforms, he invites the viewer to actively influence the work and take part in the artistic occurrence.
In Surface Tension, a large eye is projected on a "floating" screen installed in the middle of the space. The viewer approaching the screen activates sensors which make the eye open and start following his motion. The initial surprise is accompanied by a sense of playfulness. Being a solitary, dominant object in the space, the eye, however, is soon charged with additional meanings pertaining to the gaze — a key concern in art history which has frequently addressed the viewers' gaze at the work of art and the gazes of the figures within the illusory artistic universe, among themselves and at the viewer. Reference to the gaze has changed over the course of history to reflect the zeitgeist, introducing philosophical, social, and cultural questions which leave their mark on art's litmus paper. In this context, one may briefly mention Medusa's petrifying gaze; Edouard Manet's courtesan Olympia, who refuses to lower her glance, and with her defiant confrontational gaze annuls the objectifying male gaze; or the centrality of the eye image in Surrealism.
Lozano-Hemmer's eye, in contrast, seems to lack any physical-environmental context, standing in its own right, floating in the physical space of the exhibition. It is a virtual-technological eye, ostensibly autonomous, which changes the familiar rules of the game by virtue of its interaction with the viewers. It seems to observe us more than we observe it. This game of glances calls forth pertinent questions regarding the power of the gaze in political and economic contexts of spatial domination: To what extent are we conscious of our being observed and documented in the public, physical as well as web-based sphere? Who is gathering data about us and to what ends? To what extent do we control our exposure to the "Big Brother," even in spaces which we believe to be private?


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