By Kristie Song
On a sunny afternoon, the Mission District’s colorful streets are even more vibrant than usual. Light reflects off of large-scale murals that bring to life the symbols and stories of the neighborhood’s history of Latinx migration and activism. But entering Gray Area — a low-key and intimate art space on Mission at 23rd — can feel like wandering into a dark abyss, where the outside world has been brought to a halt.
It’s an ideal environment for Mexican Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s exhibition TECHS-MECHS, where visitors are invited to interact with a number of immersive electronic art pieces that ponder human connection in an increasingly divisive and surveilled world.
TECHS-MECHS, on view until May 31, is the first event in Gray Area’s ACCESS programming, a three-part series that explores how technology is impacting artists and communities from varying cultural backgrounds and identities. With an emphasis on Latinx activism and politics, Lozano-Hemmer’s exhibition digs into how technology is part of Mexican history, and how tools have been used for understanding, progress and resistance. His pieces offer descriptions in both English and Spanish, and admission is free for Mission District residents — many of whom identify as Chicano or Mexican American.