Manchester Art Gallery

Pulse Index

Rafael Lozano Hemmer

Pulse Index

Rafael Lozano Hemmer


Pulse Index is an interactive installation that records participants’ fingerprints at the same time as it detects their heart rates. The artwork consists of a 50" plasma screen display, a digital microscope and pulsimeter contained within an aluminum wall mounted casing and a mini-mac (to run custom made software). The piece displays data for the last 509 participants in a stepped display that creates a horizon line of skin. To participate, people introduce their finger into a custom-made sensor equipped with a 220x digital microscope and a heart rate sensor; their fingerprint immediately appears as a fleshy coloured abstract image on the largest cell of the display, pulsating to their heart beat and for a brief moment their image and information dominates the screen. As more people try the piece and leave a trace of themselves in the artwork’s memory one’s own recording joins a community of previous participants and travels upwards until it disappears altogether —a kind of memento mori using fingerprints, the most commonly used biometric image for identification.

Display Label

Focal Points: Art and Photography Photography is the medium at the heart of many of the most significant works of art of our times and its uses are many and varied. This display explores just some of the different ways contemporary artists have employed the camera in their work. Following Pop Art’s lead in adopting the aesthetics of the everyday, the commercial and the banal and its incorporation of photography, Conceptual art of the late 1960s and 1970s took up the rough and ready photograph alongside language as its principal means of expression. Often the photograph was used as evidence of a time-based action or performance. The artists in this display, working from the 1980s onwards, have taken inspiration from these earlier artistic movements pioneering the use of photography and have gone on to explore many traditional artistic themes in new and exciting ways. Here are artists using the camera to explore the body, reinvent still-life, examine our cultural identities or explore the places where we live work and spend our leisure time. Often their work finds ways of making the familiar strange and the ugly beautiful. Over the last 10 years the Gallery has collected a number of works via the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection Scheme on the themes of photography and sculpture and the connections between the two. These works have formed the inspiration for the current display. Works from the collections of Manchester Art Gallery, The Arts Council Collection, The Whitworth Art Gallery and private collections An Arts Council Collection Partnership supported by Christie’s Selected by Tim Wilcox South Bank logo group set (our logos ?)

Object Name

Pulse Index

Creators Name

Rafael Lozano Hemmer

Date Created



Plasma: 138.7cm x 85.9cm

accession number


Collection Group

fine art

Place of creation




© Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

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