33 Questions per Minute

Relational Architecture 5
33 Questions Per Minute consists of a computer program which uses grammatical rules to combine words from a dictionary and generate 55 billion unique, fortuitous questions. The automated questions are presented at a rate of 33 per minute --the threshold of legibility-- on 21 tiny LCD screens encrusted on the support columns of the exhibition hall or mounted on a wall. The system will take over 3,000 years to ask all possible questions. By means of a keyboard, members of the public can introduce any question or comment into the flow of automatic questions. Their participation shows up on the screens immediately and is registered by the program.

If the PC has an Internet connection, the texts can simultaneously be mirrored to a URL that can be accessed online.

Some observations on this installation :

This piece is loosely based on the long tradition of automatic poetry. It is full of anti-content. It attempts to underline our incapability to respond, faced with an electronic landscape made up of demands for attention. The piece provides useless and slightly frustrating machine irony. Tireless grammatical algorithms perform a romantic and futile attempt to pose questions that have never been asked.

The effect of the installation is destabilising due to its speed. The rhythm of questions excludes any rational answer. 33 questions a minute is the threshold of legibility : there is no time for reflection.

To a viewer (or to the authorities), it is impossible to determine if a question was generated by the computer or entered by a human participant because both are shown at the same rate and anonymously. The intention is to develop a "reverse Turing Test" where the impossibility to discriminate between human and machine opens up the possibility of concealment and camouflage.

The majority of the automatic questions are absurd: Will you bleed in an orderly fashion? Is the creator always being born? Do I snip the marriage bed without rhyme or reason? But this surreal wordplay sometimes turns up questions that do have meaning within the context in which they are exhibited: Who bribes the artist? Why did computers become so self-congratulatory.
Name in spanish: 33 Preguntas por Minuto
Year of Creation: 2000
Technique: Computer, custom-software, 21 LCD screens
Dimensions: Variable dimensions
Edition: 5 copies + 1 AP
Keywords: database, generator, indoor, interactive, networked, outdoor, projection, recorder, sound.
Collections: MUSAC Museum (León), Cisneros Fontanals Foundation (Miami), Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Jonathon Carroll Collection (NYC), and private collector
Photo library (click to expand)
2003 - Ill Communication, Dundee Contemporary Art, Dundee, United Kingdom
2001 - Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey
2000 - Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, 7th Bienal de la Habana, Havana, Cuba



  • Rafael Lozano-Hemmer - concept, direction
  • Conroy Badger - programming
  • Will Bauer, Ana Parga, María Velarde Torres, Luis Jiménez-Carlés, Luis Parga, Gabriela Raventós (Spanish version), Rebecca MacSween (English version), Stephan Klinger, Sakrowski, Till Braband (German version) - production support.