Loud Voice. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco (CCUT), UNAM
Ciudad de México, México
January 2008

Loud voice was an interactive installation designed by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer for the University Cultural Center Tlatelolco where the production and coordination work was developed. It was about a piece that had as one of its objectives to activate and upgrade the memory of the student movement of 1968, through a lighting system which reacted live with the voice of local participants and registers of the sound archive such as interviews, declamations, readings and manifests.

A megaphone was placed on the esplanade of the Plaza de las tres culturas (Square of the Three Cultures) for people to participate. According to what was said into the megaphone’s microphone, the voice became light in real time, thanks to a light projector that “sent” the message from the esplanade to the three projectors placed on the roof of the old building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Then the message was “broadcasted” through the three projectors. The codification of the voice to light was simple: if there was a silent pause, this was perceived as darkness, if there was a voice the intensity increased.

Three rays of light sparkled in Mexico City’s sky from three antiaircraft projectors located on the roof of the old building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tlatelolco. The beams of light were directed in three different directions: southwest, visible from the Monument to the Revolution; southeast, visible from the Zocalo (downtown main square); and north, parallel to Insurgentes Avenue.

If nobody spoke on the microphone at the Plaza, the beams emitted the voices of a program prepared expressly by Radio UNAM with sound documents form the archive of the University Cultural Center, as well as from the radio station and other important archives in Mexico. The purpose was to mix the voices of the main characters of our culture with those of the participants of today, amplifying both to give then an urban scale, a light in every sense of the word.

To listen to what the “light said”, it was possible to listen to Radio UNAM 96.1 MHz FM from 20.00 to 22.00 hours where the voices were heard, perfectly synchronized with the beam of light.