In our current times, escapism is hard to come by. Limited by where we can go and how many people we can be around, it's rare to find a perfect event that can almost 100% guarantee safety while providing a refreshing escape from the new normal. Cercanía, a mesmerizing interactive digital art exhibition by Montreal-based artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer in is one of those perfect events. 

Located at the Arsenal Contemporary Art Gallery, Cercanía centres around the themes of "proximity and shared experience." The huge 18,000-square-foot space is as expansive as it is immersive. 

There are few art exhibitions that offer an interactive experience and even fewer that offer a completely hands-off interactive experience.

With several installations that digitally project your face, track your movements, and even "draw" your face in water vapour, Cercanía is one of those rare, completely unique experiences. 

There are no buttons or touch screens of any kind. Instead, the exhibit utilizes facial recognition and movement tracking technology to immerse visitors in an "experience of intimacy and empathy." 

I had a chance to check out the exhibit and here's what you can expect. 

After walking through a dark and moody hallway, Cercanía opens with a 30-metre tall screen projecting the faces of everyone who stands in front of a specially developed video camera. 

And when I say everyone, I mean, everyone. After taking a projection of your likeness, your face begins to distort and gets fused with everyone else's, creating a ghostly mirage of faces. 

Further into the gallery, after passing a clever little radar screen that detects your heartbeat as you walk by, the room opens up into a mesmerizing "sound sculpture." 

Ceiling-mounted robotic lights follow soundwaves and undulate with the static white noise almost as if the room is breathing. 

One of the exhibition's more captivating and political pieces was a large noose connected to a digital sensor that would vibrate every time there was a gunshot homicide in North America. 

It vibrated quite a lot. 

As you walk to the last room, dancing lights project your shadow as a movement tracker digitally "prints" a moving after-effect image of your shadow on a large white wall. 


In the last room, you're greeted by two massive screens with floating letters that follow you as you move around the room. 

I was slightly let down by the vapour image, however, as it seems the technology had a little glitch in it and didn't project my likeness all that well. 

Overall, the Cercanía exhibit is a great escape from the norm and a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Come and be mesmerized by all the digital pieces and maybe even learn a thing or two about how we all connect with the world around us. 

Cercanía runs until September 27, 2020. 

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