Kenyon College

Sphere Packing


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
(Mexican b. 1967)

Sphere Packing- Subsculpture 15 (Empaquetamiento de Esferas), 2010.

3D prints in diverse materials, thousands of audio channels, stainless steel, electronic cards, Arduino, Grasshopper, Wiring and C programming.
Sphere diameter and weight vary depending on the composer, sphere hangs 150 cm from the ground from a stainless steel playback box measuring 20 x 20 x 13 cm, total weight of 3 to 8 kilos.

Courtesy of the artist and bitforms gallery (New York).

Suspended from the ceiling by its own wires, Sphere Packing presents the world’s most well-known composers as spheres of earbuds playing every work from their repertoire. Orbs of various sizes float at eye level, murmuring sound through the gallery. The organic forms seem to grow from the ceiling, like fruit growing from the same tree. They beg the viewer to come closer, look more intently, and listen more carefully.

As the viewer steps closer, the orchestral murmurs become distinguishable, such as one Beethoven piece from another. While orchestras are typically large and music echoes through a concert hall, these works are designed to be quiet, whispers in the gallery rather than booming crescendos. It reflects how people enjoy music in modern society, where wearing headphones from place to place is the norm. Further, Sphere Packing comments on the nature of information, both its storage and its accessibility. Anyone can listen to any music as opposed to the elite structure requiring an orchestral concert to hear the compositions that Sphere Packing highlights. The personal listening experience of wearing headphones entails a certain alienation, separating the listener from their environment.

Jenna Wendler, ’17