A Must See in DC: ‘Pulse’ by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer


Jessica O’Donnell, Howard University News Service

WASHINGTON D.C. — Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer officially made his Washington D.C. debut with his exhibit Pulse at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Previously showcased at sites around the world including the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi, his art is now in the nation’s capital. Pulse, which is curated by Stéphane Aquin, combines three different installations by Lozano-Hemmer. It is unlike other art exhibits one might encounter—visitors’ own fingerprints and heartbeats are the star of the show.

Upon entering Pulse patrons are greeted with a large screen made up of about 10,000 fingerprints that intermittently change. A small device prompts visitors to place their fingers inside a machine that changes the large screen to reflect their very own fingerprint. The large projection is accompanied by a line graph showing their heartbeats. After roughly thirty seconds, visitors’ fingerprints are part of the artwork itself forever.

Lozano-Hemmer’s exhibit concludes with Pulse Room (2006). Incandescent light bulbs hang in an orderly fashion from the ceiling. The lights flash in random patterns and sometimes dim so low the entire room is dark. This room combines the heartbeats of current and past visitors in a display of disorienting light movements and bass speakers that intensify the experience.

In Lozano-Hemmer’s world, patrons of the arts are the art. The past and the present intertwine in this interactive world like few art exhibits choose to do.

Pulse will remain on display at the Hirshhorn Museum until Sunday, April 28.