Ever get the feeling you’re being watched?

You certainly will at the MCA’s new exhibition, Recorders: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. All of the one dozen works on show are tracking, measuring, surveillance and recording devices, writ large.

Artwriter attended the media preview of the exhibition this week, and took the photographs included in this post. The picture at left is Lozano-Hemmer.

I will upload my interview with Lozano-Hemmer soon. These pictures, however, will give some idea of the extraordinary artworks in the show.

Lozano-Hemmer was a personable, warm, and rather funny narrator of his own works.

Here, then, are some of my pictures.

This is a detail of one element of a larger work titled Seismoscope.

Seismoscope is a highly sensitive device which detects movement in the surrounding area, and records it by automatically drawing the face of a philosopher. Lozano-Hemmer can set it up to draw other things, as well. On days when there is little activity in the museum, Seismoscope draws a very light image. On days when the builders are working hard on the new MCA wing, and there are lots of vibrations, the image will be bolder and darker. You can see this effect in the image at left.

This is a wider angle view of the same thing.

This is a close-up of that day’s drawing being drawn. You can see the pen at the top of the page. It is programmed to draw the philosopher’s face in bold, strong lines when there is a lot of vibration, or to produce a very light drawing if the surroundings are quiet and still.

This mesmerising work, at left, is a line of measuring tapes which detect the presence of a viewer in front of them. When one of the tapes picks you up, the tape will continue to slowly grow until its full extent is realised and the top-heavy measuring tape crashes to the floor.

Artwriter testing a Lozano-Hemmer artwork called The Year’s Midnight.

A camera is mounted above the mirror in which you see yourself. You look up into the small camera, and by using face-recognition technology, the work removes your eyes digitally and puts them at the bottom of the screen in the manner of St Lucy in Mexico. Smoke then emanates digitally from your eyeballs.

And here is Artwriter in a fascinating work called People on People. Once detected, you appear randomly on a huge screen. Ghost images of other visitors to have stood in front of the work appear of their own volition. Time slips. People who were recorded many months ago appear on the same screen beside people who have only just left their “impression” on the work.

I will write my interview with Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and post it on these pages soon.

Elizabeth Fortescue, December 16, 2011