www.dublinelevation.net Vectorial Elevation    
        Relational Architecture 4


Searchlights have been around for well over 100 years. The use of tightly collimated beams was typical of the first World Exhibitions where they were used to visualize the new energy that gave birth to modernity: electricity. Illuminating engineers were in high demand at the beginning of the 20th century, as described by Daniel Canogar, among others. Not only were they used for highlighting emblematic buildings but also to direct aeroplanes into landing trajectories. The use of collimated searchlights in Albert Speer’s Nazi spectacles produced intimidating architectures of monologic power where, as Canogar points out, people were props in the fascist spectacle. During the war, searchlights were used as a tracking devices for anti-aircraft surveillance, a function that was later replaced by the invention of the computer mouse, as Axel Roch shows. After the war, the lights were used for victory parades and ever since they are associated with celebrations. Today, searchlights are used mostly by corporate or state events that try to recreate a festive environment that we associate with a Hollywood film premiere, using repetitive light sequences.

Vectorial Elevation was first produced in 1999 for the Zócalo Square in Mexico City. It is the fourth piece in the "Relational Architecture" series, which now includes nine pieces. Its main objective is to allow public control of the spectacular lighting possible with searchlights, which normally follows a pre-programmed sequence of movements. There are a large number of precedents for this type of work. A very thorough compilation of annotated links of historical precedents was compiled by researcher Jennifer Laughlin for Lozano-Hemmer’s "Amodal Suspension" website, here are a few selections from that list:

One of the oldest precedents to the teleoperation of light is the Lindbergh Beacon in Los Angeles, which was first illuminated in 1928 when president Coolidge activated it by pressing a telegraph key from his desk at the White House.

Toyo Ito’s interactive architecture, such as his 1986 Tower of Winds in Yokohama, which transforms on environmental changes such as noises and the speed and direction of the wind.

Ornitorrinco the telerobot by Eduardo Kac and Ed Bennett (1989), which was a first contact with the prolific field of artistic teleoperation.

Louis Phillippe Demers and Bill Vorn's 1993 installation Espace Vectoriel, where the presence of the public triggered motion patterns and sounds from robotic light assemblies.

Christian Möller and Joachim Sauter’s 1994 Networked Skin project for the Ars Electronica Center, designed to transform the building with a global interface.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Will Bauer's 1995 installation The Trace, where two remote participants shared the same telematic space constructed with intersecting light beams.

Knowbotic Research 1996-97 Anonymus Muttering, featuring real time intersection of net data with sound and light transformation.

Ken Goldberg's telepresence pieces, such as his Dislocation of Intimacy which allows participants on the web to turn lights on and off and watch the shadows produced by an offscreen installation.

Masaki Fujihata's, Light on the Net Project, a piece that allows turning individual lightbulbs on a display in Tokyo.

Hans Muller and Zwarts / Jansma Architecten 1998 installation in the Leidschenveen Tunnel, which allows people to send messages over the net, which are then presented in an electronic display in public space.

Stadtwerkstatt's Clickspace 98, a three module project that allowed light, sounds and messages to be displayed in various buildings in Linz, Austria.

Johannes Gees' Hello Mr. President, a laser text display on the mountain side in Davos, Switzerland, allowed projection of texts which might be read by otherwise unreachable corporate and political leaders, meeting in January of 2001.

Chaos Computer Club's Blinkenlights project in Berlin, which transformed an office building into a popular display of messages an animation through an elegant interface.

More information regarding other projects by Lozano-Hemmer can be found in his web site www.lozano-hemmer.com.


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© Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, 1999 - 2004