EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — No, it’s not a UFO. Residents from El Paso were somewhat perplexed when they witnessed moving lights in the night sky Sunday night. But rest assured, it’s not an extraterrestrial, it’s a one-of-a-kind international art installation.
The project, titled Border Tuner (known as Sintonizador Fronterizo in Spanish), is a major new public artwork by internationally renowned visual artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. The installation is an interactive searchlight intended to highlight the complex and important connections between El Paso and Juarez.
Similar installations by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer have been installed in Philadelphia, Mexico City, Vancouver, Abu Dhabi, Montreal, and Japan.
The project officially begins Nov. 13 and will be visible in the night sky through November 24. The testing of the project began late last week, and many El Pasoans noticed the lights again on Sunday evening.
Border Tuner’s point of origin in El Paso is at Bowie High School and exchanges light signals with a mirroring light situated in Juarez’ Chamizal Park.
What makes the Border Tuner so unique is that it’s controlled by the voices of participants who are at any of the three interactive stations placed on each side of the border.
Border Tuner will begin each of the 12 nights with 30 minutes focused on curated programming by a diverse group of voices from the Borderland. Each day a select group of artists, writers, poets, indigenous voices, musicians, will open this public platform by sharing their art and voices with the community.
“The idea should be not so much that we are controlling the lights, but that we are listening to conversations,” Lozano-Hemmer said. “The idea of this interface of tuning, turning the dial to listen to others is really what we need at this time, politically and culturally.”
Confirmed participants include Batallones Femeninos, Adelitas Fronterizas, Orquesta Sinfónica Esperanza Azteca, Cassandro el Exótico, Sonido Cachimbo, Frontera Bugalú, Las Platicadoras and many others.
Following the initial evening activation, the public from both sides of the border are invited to participate, open-mic style, and connect with participants on the other side of the border to light up the skies.
Those who wish to send a message, but can’t do so in person are invited to send a message through the virtual switchboard.
A full list of events and activations can be viewed on the Border Tuner website by CLICKING HERE.
The project is organized by the Rubin Center at UTEP, El Paso Community Foundation and Fundación Comunitaria de la Frontera Norte. It receives support from the Mellon Foundation, Arte Abierto, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Via Art Foundation and Novamex.