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“There was more room for reflection in “Atmospheric Memory,” an immersive multimedia installation by the Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer that is the most ambitious art project at this year’s festival. Housed in a huge chamber assembled from shipping containers on the grounds of the Science and Industry Museum, the labyrinthine exhibit is itself a kind of “invisible city.”
Cascading overhead lights usher the visitor down a hallway thick with 3,000 audio channels of natural and industrial sounds that leads to a temple-like exhibition space, where works inspired by Charles Babbage, the 19th-century English polymath sometimes considered the “father of the computer,” are on show.
Babbage theorized the atmosphere around us as a vast library containing every utterance ever breathed, and he dreamed of a device that would enable us to decode those voices hidden in the ether.
In the most visually arresting (and coolest) section of “Atmospheric Memory,” visitors speak into a microphone the names of things that they would like to see disappear. Those words and phrases then appear written in water vapor on a wall-length display, where they hover for several seconds before evaporating. While I stood looking at the display, a visitor bent over to whisper his wishes. Seconds later, “Hunger” and “Donald Trump” materialized and vanished into thin air.”
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