Art in technological times, Installation SFMOMA (Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA)
dyna2 Art in technological times, Installation
(Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco)

Melatonin Room is a physiological architecture which acts on the space itself by transforming its electro-magnetic make-up. This room is defined as a space of hormonal stimulation. Two climates are produced, turn by turn. The first is defined by the emission of an electroma-gnetic radiation at 509 nm, at an intensity of 2000 lux, which eliminates the production of melatonin by the pineal gland. When secreted, this hormone provides information associated with tiredness and sleep. The space becomes a physically motiva-ting place, which is also chemically stimulating. The second climate is a dissemination of ultraviolet rays which, on the contrary, stimulate the production of melatonin. Melatonin Room is a space without representation, which reduces to a maximum the medium between the emitter and the receptor, and acts on the chemical mechanisms of things between each other. It works on the new forms of communication created by the biotechnologies and by genetics, together with the analogical, the poetic, the aesthetic and the rhetorical.

A very different, very provocative installation on the ways in which technology, art and architecture are merging is offered in ”Melatonin Room, 2001,” by a team of Swiss architect Jean-Gilles Decosterd and Philippe Rahm. To understand what’s happening it’s necessary to know that melatonin regulates levels of alertness in the human body. A high level induces sleepiness, a low level greater alertness. The work consists simply of two small rooms into which a visitor may crawl.One of them contains bright green light, which purportedly lowers the level of melatonin in the body. The other bathes the visitor in soft blue light, which purportedly raises the level of melatonin. Such ”physiological architecture,” as the team calls these rooms, explores the ways environments can change consciousness. Whether the effects can be felt or not — this visitor didn’t feel them — it’s a conceptually fascinating proposition.

(c) SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS Sunday, March 11, 2001


Take a look at the website of Décosterd & Rahm associés:

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