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Giant Shadow Play To Transform Wellington

Media release

Proudly Sponsored by Meridian Energy

Giant Shadow Play To Transform Wellington

A spectacle of light and shadow will transform part of the waterfront as Wellington plays host to one the world's largest interactive artworks. Proudly sponsored by Meridian Energy, Body Movies will be unveiled for the duration of the NZ International Arts Festival outside Te Papa on Cable Street, from 22 February until 16 March 2008.

Transforming a space of around 1,000 square metres, Body Movies is a free public art installation featuring 1,000 photo portraits of people taken on the streets in and around Wellington, as well as using a bank of photographs from Rotterdam and Hong Kong.

As darkness falls these photo images will be cast by a powerful projector onto the side of Te Papa and then completely washed out by white bright light from 10,000-watt lamps placed at ground level. As soon as people walk in the area, their shadows are projected and the photo portraits are revealed within them in a variety of scenes. People can match, animate or embody a portrait by walking around and changing the scale of their shadow engaging “in a game of mimicry and representation” says the artist, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

A fusion of technology and public art, Body Movies is the brainchild of award- winning Mexican-Canadian artist, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer that he describes as a relational architectural installation. It is inspired by Samuel van Hoogstraten’s 1675 engraving The Shadow Dance. Lozano-Hemmer has employed the same image distortion effect, and updated it with 21st-century technology, actively challenging the community to participate with art in a public space.

“Every time we show this piece, the behaviours are totally different, ranging from playful parading to erotic performances to aggressive stances. On average, about half the participants try to match the portraits by enlarging or reducing their shadows, while the other half is more interested in playing with each other's shadow,” says Lozano-Hemmer, who won the Prix Ars Electronica Award for Distinction in Interactive Art for this work.

“In Rotterdam, where the work premiered, participants started using props after a few days. Breakdancers appeared. People brought their pets. A man in a wheelchair projected his shadow 22 metres high and he seemed to derive a lot of pleasure from crushing everybody around him.”

A camera-based tracking system monitors the placement of the shadows, and when all shadows match the location of the portraits in a given scene, the controlled computer changes the scene to a new set of portraits. A small .wav sound is heard to give feedback to the people in the space when they have matched the portrait.

Let yourself be transformed as you wander down to the Pacific Blue Festival Club or one of the other numerous venues on the waterfront.

Proudly sponsored by Meridian Energy, Body Movies will be on display between 9pm and 1am every evening of the Festival.

Check out http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/ecomisario.html for more information

Background on Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
BAFTA award-winner Lozano-Hemmer is Mexican born and Canadian educated. He has been exhibiting his large-scale interactive artworks around the world for 12 years and is one of a few highly influential Canadian artists working in the new-media field to have received international accolades. Though relatively unknown in Canada, this group also includes Prix Ars Electronica 2002 award winners David Rokeby and Luc Courchesne. Together, they have become widely recognised in Europe for their contributions to the development of interactive technologies, especially their innovations with "interfaces", those boundaries across which people and computers meet and communicate.

Awards won:
Artist/Performer of the Year, Wired Magazine Rave Awards, San Francisco
Trophée des Lumières, France

World Technology Network Award for the Arts
Best Interactive Installation, HorizonZero, Banff, Canada, San Francisco International Bauhaus Award, 1st Prize, Dessau, Germany

BAFTA British Academy Award for Interactive Art, London, England
Gold Award, Interactive Media Design Review, I.D. Magazine, USA
Ars Electronica, Interactive Art Distinction, Linz, Austria
Body Movies, proudly sponsored by Meridian Energy: Side wall of Te Papa on Cable Street, from 22 February until 16 March 2008.

ENDS

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