Aug 12, 2011 12:00AM

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer at MCA

A show with a strong feeling of surveillance.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is an electronic artist. Which means that he does contemporary tech-savvy stuff like projecting videos onto visitors to London's Trafalgar Square, or corralling hundreds of thousands of people on the internet and getting them to shine searchlights all over Mexico City. In his latest exhibition, Recorders, Lozano-Hemmer takes the use of crowds and digital devices even further, with a strong feeling of surveillance running throughout the show. Exhibiting at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art from December 16 2011 to 12 February 2012 as part of the Sydney International Art Series, Recorders requires that visitors play the role of performer and leave traces of themselves - whether it's objects from their pockets, questions they have typed, the pace of their heartbeat, their voice or their image.

Highlights of Recorders include Pulse Room (2006) which was premiered in Puebla, Mexico and shown to critical acclaim in the Mexican pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2007. It's made up of 100 light bulbs which are activated by a sensor to flash at the exact rhythm of participants' heart rates. People on People (2010) is a major installation inspired by portraiture and shadow plays, which turns the gallery's exhibition space into a scanning device where live and recorded imagery is blended automatically.

Two new works, which are premiering in Sydney, are Pletoria (2011), which consists of interactive displays that automatically capture, store and playback images of the eyes of viewers, and Tape Recorders (2011), a dramatic installation comprising 100 robotic timers that record how long visitors stand in a particular location.

This is what Lozano-Hemmer himself has said of the exhibition: 'In Recorders, artworks hear, see and feel the public, they exhibit awareness and record and replay memories entirely obtained during the show. Using advanced surveillance and biometric technologies, the pieces either depend on participation to exist or predatorily gather information on the public as they go through the exhibition. In all cases the artwork compiles a database of behaviours that then becomes the artwork itself. I am always delighted when a visitor takes over an artwork and personalises it, like they might take over a stage or a public square.'