Voz Alta

Relational Architecture 15
"Voz Alta" (Loud Voice) is a memorial commissioned for the 40th anniversary of the student massacre in Tlatelolco, which took place on October 2nd 1968. In the piece, participants speak freely into a megaphone placed on the "Plaza de las Tres Culturas", right where the massacre took place. As the megaphone amplifies the voice, a 10kW searchlight automatically "beams" the voice as a sequence of flashes: if the voice is silent the light is off and as it gets louder so does the light's brightness. As the searchlight beam hits the top of the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, now Centro Cultural Tlatelolco, it is relayed by three additional searchlights, one pointed to the north, one to the southeast towards Zócalo Square and one to the southwest towards the Monument to the Revolution. Depending on the weather, the searchlights could be seen from a 15Km radius, quietly transmitting the voice of the participants over Mexico City. Anyone around the city could tune into 96.1FM Radio UNAM to listen in live to what the lights were saying.

When no one was participanting the light on the Plaza was off but the three lights on the building played back archival recordings of survivors, interviews with intellectuals and politicians, music from 1968 and radio art pieces commissioned by Radio UNAM. In this way the memory of the event was mixed with live participation.

Thousands of people participated in this project, without censorship or moderation. Participation included statements from survivors, street poetry, shout-outs, ad hoc art performaces, marriage proposals, calls for protest and more.

The piece exists as a functional prototype that is shown with video documentation. The prototype is the same Megaphone as was used in the public art piece, except it has been modified to incorporate a powerful xenon searchlight inside, so that when a participant speaks into it, his or her voice gets converted into light flashes. An FM radio transmitter allows transistor radios to hear exactly what the light is saying: be it live participation or archival material from the memorial.
Name in spanish: Voz Alta
Year of Creation: 2008
Technique: Public art: 4x10kW Xenon robotic searchlights, modified megaphone, computers, DMX distribution, live FM radio transmission
Prototype: 1x150W Xenon light, modified megaphone, computer, live FM low power radio transmission, transistor radios
Video: 16 min 19 seconds, HD video with stereo sound
Dimensions: The searchlights were visible over a 15 Km radius, the Radio UNAM FM signal could be tuned everywhere in Mexico City as well as nearby towns such as Toluca and Cuernavaca
Keywords: database, indoor, interactive, lights, outdoor, performance, recorder, robotic, site-specific, sound.
Collections: Prototype Cisneros Fontanals Foundation (Miami)
Photo library (click to expand)
2008 - Memorial for the Tlatelolco student massacre, Mexico City, México

Exhibitions

Credits

  • Gideon May ï¿œ Software and Hardware Design
  • Gastón Ramirez Feltrín - Production manager for Antimodular
  • Alejandro Aguinaco - Production manager for CCT
  • Griselda Ramirez Feltrín, Ximena Molina, Pablo Valverde, Olfa Driss, Pierre Fournier, Andrea Navarro ï¿œ production support
  • Commissioned by the Centro Cultural Tlatelolco of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)



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