San Francisco’s Gray Area is currently hosting TECHS-MECHS, a jaw-dropping display of interactive kinetic sculptures by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. The exhibition consists of eleven dynamic art installations including immersive works that celebrate Mexican technological history and cultural identity. Be sure to see it now at Gray Area in the Mission through May 31, 2023. Heads up: it’s free for Mission District residents!
As a whole, the works presented in TECHS-MECHS use technology as a “means of reflexive intervention” meant to encourage questions about Latinx identity, culture, and community.
Perhaps the most highly-anticipated work on display is Pulse Topology, a massive airborne carpet of 3,000 suspended light bulbs that glimmer to the heartbeats of the audience members as they walk beneath it. It’s the culmination of Lozano-Hemmer’s other popular artworks activated by the human pulse, which have made successful appearances in Canada, Brazil, and Switzerland.
The rest of the exhibition has additional opportunities to interact with the artwork in memorable ways. Inspired by Real Events allows visitors to peek into a surveillance camera to see volunteers dismantling security cameras in Mexico City; and Airborne Newscasts tracks the body heat of guests to create shadows on running international news spreads.
TECHS-MECHS endeavors to subvert the militaristic aspects of technology that so often police people of color by presenting artworks with both positive and negative tones. In Volute Zero, a 3D-printed speech bubble created using a scan of the air exhaled when speaking, Lozano-Hemmer suggests a more inclusive perception of technology by using references to indigenous Mayan and Aztec traditions. Alternatively, he presents a more dismal tone with Sway, in which an inverted noose sways back and forth like a metronome every time ICE arrests someone.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer was born in Mexico City and now splits his time between Montreal and Madrid. His work often encourages public participation through the use of diverse technologies including surveillance, robotic lights, media walls, and the like. These exciting pieces have made award-winning appearances around the world and we’re lucky to have the opportunity to see them in a solo exhibition here in San Francisco.
Mission residents can visit the exhibition for free by presenting proof of residency, which can be a photo ID with zip code 94110 or 94103, or a photo ID with a postmarked envelope or utility bill showing a Mission address.
If you’re not a Mission resident, tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for students, veterans, and seniors. Gray Area also offers discounts to students, nonprofit workers, or people facing financial hardship.
Be sure to see TECHS-MECHS at Gray Area in the Mission District before it closes on May 31, 2023!