Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s The Year’s Midnight takes its title from the first line of a poem, “A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, Being the Shortest Day,” by the 17th-century English poet John Donne. This mournfully romantic poem references St. Lucy’s Day, December 13th, once thought to be the shortest day of the year and the winter solstice. Saint Lucy, a martyr for her Christian faith, is the patron saint of the blind and is often depicted holding her eyes on a golden plate or tray. Lozano-Hemmer’s work, inspired by Donne’s poem and the story of St. Lucy, utilizes viewer interaction to create a dynamic work of art that is simultaneously disquieting, humorous, and transformative. A built-in computerized tracking system and facial recognition software shows each viewer’s image on the screen as they approach the work. Plumes of white smoke start to emanate from their eyes until the entire screen is filled. As they leave the work, their eyes appear along the bottom of the screen, along beside all the other viewers of the work, turning the viewer into the viewed.
Tags: electronic, contemporary, smoke, experiential, movement