People stand in front of a large wall of smoke inside the Atmospheric Memory installation.
CPA Series

Atmospheric Memory

By Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
December 2–17, 2021
Various times

General admission tickets available for $15. UNC Student discount not available for this event.

Experience a unique, immersive art environment where you control interactive artworks while surrounded with light, sound, and colossal projections.

Inspired by computing pioneer Charles Babbage’s proposal that the atmosphere is a ‘vast library’ recording everything we say, Atmospheric Memory invites visitors to listen to the turbulent voices in the medium where we live, the atmosphere: invisible but precious, filled with echoes and sounds from the past.

What is the atmosphere trying to tell us?

Created by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (b. 1967, Mexico City) and co-commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts, Atmospheric Memory is an immersive experience that takes over the entirety of Memorial Hall, from lobby to stage, and transforms Beasley-Curtis Auditorium into a jaw-dropping exploration of light and sound.

Begin your journey in the Prelude Exhibition, a curatorial ode to Charles Babbage’s question: Can we rewind the air to recreate long-lost voices? And if so, whose would we want to hear?

Then make your way to the Chamber, located on and around Memorial Hall’s stage, for a multitude of interactive experiences: speak your thoughts into existence with Cloud Display, a voice controlled fountain that creates words in mid-air with cold water vapor; get lost in Atmosphonia, a field of thousands of separate sound channels; experience floor-to-ceiling projected art, and more.

Be sure to share your Atmospheric Memory experience with us by using #AtmosphericMemory on social media.


Tickets are required for Atmospheric Memory. Ticketed entries occur every 15 minutes during event hours. To explore available dates and times and book your visit, go to our ticketing site.

Masks are required at all times while inside Memorial Hall. Learn more about what to expect in our Atmospheric Memory FAQ and about our safety protocols on our Health and Safety page.

Please note: Atmospheric Memory uses bright lights, strobe, low light, loud noise, haze, and smoke. By purchasing a ticket to Atmospheric Memory, you are consenting to being recorded at the event and for this data to become an integral part of the live artwork. All data is destroyed at the end of the installation.

Learning Mornings 

Visitors can learn more about the topics presented throughout Atmospheric Memory by attending short discussions from UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, students, and other experts before they immerse themselves in the interactive artworks.  

Learning Mornings will be scheduled Tuesdays through Fridays for entry times between 10 AM and 12 PM. These discussions will take place in the Memorial Hall lobby and last 7–8 minutes. Speakers vary and are subject to change. 


Carolina Performing Arts is committed to creating an exceptional experience for all guests. Read on to learn about accessibility at Atmospheric Memory, and please contact us with any questions.

Closed Captioning and ASL

Atmospheric Memory features a combination of projections and audio. There is a short introductory film presentation at the beginning of the event, which has both captioning and ASL interpretation. The event trailer can be viewed below.

Audio Guide

An audio guide for Atmospheric Memory is available to listen to on SoundCloud.

Relaxed Sessions

Relaxed, low sensory sessions are available from 10 AM—12 PM on Sunday, December 5 and Sunday, December 12. Please select entry times between 10 AM and 12 PM to book your visit during these special sessions. 

Relaxed sessions have been adapted for those who might benefit from a quieter environment. We have adjusted the intensity of the sound and light settings inside the auditorium and the chamber to provide a calmer experience.  

There is also a quiet space available for those interested in taking time away from the main space. Please see a staff member for assistance. 

Route Mobility

Atmospheric Memory is wheelchair- and walker-accessible. Strollers are allowed inside, but must be left in a reserved bag-drop area when entering Atmosphonia.

For more questions about accessibility, please contact our Box Office by email at

About Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (b. 1967, Mexico City) is a media artist working at the intersection of architecture and performance art. He creates platforms for public participation using technologies such as robotic lights, digital fountains, computerized surveillance, media walls and telematic networks. Inspired by phantasmagoria, carnival and animatronics, his light and shadow works are “anti-monuments for alien agency.”

learn more

He was the first artist to represent Mexico at the Venice Biennale with an exhibition at Palazzo Van Axel in 2007. He has also shown at Biennials in Cuenca, Havana, Istanbul, Kochi, Liverpool, Melbourne NGV, Moscow, New Orleans, New York ICP, Seoul, Seville, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Wuzhen. His public art has been commissioned for the Millennium Celebrations in Mexico City (1999), the Expansion of the European Union in Dublin (2004), the Student Massacre Memorial in Tlatelolco (2008), the Vancouver Olympics (2010), the pre-opening exhibition of the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi (2015) and the activation of the Raurica Roman Theatre in Basel (2018). Collections holding his work include MoMA, Guggenheim and Museo del Barrio in New York, TATE and Science Museum in London, MAC, MBAM and Majudia in Montréal, Jumex and MUAC in Mexico City, DAROS in Zurich, MONA in Hobart, ZKM in Karlsruhe, SAM in Singapore and many others.

He has received two BAFTA British Academy Awards for Interactive Art in London, a Golden Nica at the Prix Ars Electronica in Austria, “Artist of the year” Rave Award from Wired Magazine, a Rockefeller fellowship, the Trophée des Lumières in Lyon, an International Bauhaus Award in Dessau, the title of Compagnon des Arts et des Lettres du Québec in Quebec, and the Governor General’s Award in Canada. He has lectured at Goldsmiths college, the Bartlett school, Princeton, Harvard, UC Berkeley, Cooper Union, USC, MIT MediaLab, Guggenheim Museum, LA MOCA, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Cornell, UPenn, SCAD, Danish Architecture Center, CCA in Montreal, ICA in London and the Art Institute of Chicago.

In the past two years Lozano-Hemmer was the subject of 9 solo exhibitions worldwide, including a major show at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, the inaugural show at the AmorePacific Museum in Seoul, and a mid-career retrospective co-produced by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and SFMOMA. In 2019 his immersive performance Atmospheric Memory premiered at the Manchester International Festival and his interactive installation “Border Tuner” connected people across the US-Mexico border using bridges of light controlled by the voices of participants in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua and El Paso, Texas. 

Special Thanks







Arts Everywhere

Libby and Lee Buck

The Joan H. Gillings Excellence Fund

Susan and James Moeser

Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Science and Industry Museum, FutureEverything, ELEKTRA / Arsenal Contemporary Art, Montreal and Carolina Performing Arts – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Originally produced by Manchester International Festival and curated with FutureEverything and Science and Industry Museum.

View the full Atmospheric Memory program here.

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