Surface Tension, 1992

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Surface Tension, 1992
Interactive installation; dimensions variable
Installation view: Art in the Age of Anxiety, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2020
Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, New York
Photo: Danko Stjepanovic


The work of electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer focuses on surveillance, deception and perception in contemporary society. Creating interactive installations at the intersection of architecture and performance art, he alters a range of technologies and devices, including cameras, mobile phones, the internet and robotics, to create platforms for public participation. He has sought to reconfigure the discourse around site-specificity by creating works that are relationship-specific, drawing on the points at which technology begins to connect individuals and communities.

The only artwork in Art in the Age of Anxiety from the 1990s, Surface Tension (1992) is an interactive installation developed at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid as a stage module for a theatre work by Transition State Theory. Since then, the work has been presented as an art installation at several venues worldwide. Consisting of a giant human eye that follows the viewer with Orwellian precision, Surface Tension was inspired by a reading of Georges Bataille’s surrealist text The Solar Anus (1931) during the Gulf War, when camera-guided ‘intelligent bombs’ were first widely deployed. The present-day computerised surveillance techniques employed by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States, authorised by the Patriot Act, provide a new and distressing backdrop for this piece.

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Surface Tension (1992)

Lozano-Hemmer, Rafael

Media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s interactive installations represent the intersection of architecture and performance art.