Recorders: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Manchester Art Gallery

3.00

At first, the large, low-lit gallery space looks rather unprepossessing: a circle of vintage microphones, all spot-lit, stand at its centre, as if waiting for a 1960s variety show to start. But where are the contestants? In the room's far corner, there's a long table that resembles an airport scanner (its surface, brilliantly lit with white light, is moving and moving). What else? Not much. A wall-hung mirror waits patiently for a human stare. When you look into it, with the usual degree of curiosity mingled with apprehension, you see the predictable sadness of yourself. But you see something else too: a word has been blazoned in light across your forehead: autopoiesis (auto-creation). How has that happened? Elsewhere, a series of tiny green computer screens, also wall-hung, are connected to each other by a tangled skein of wiring. Each screen has a bizarre question. Otherwise, nothing is happening. The room is utterly soundless. Is this all there is?

In other rooms it is much the same story. Nothing happens here unless you make it happen. Frank Stella once said that what you see is what you get. The message of this show by the Canadian-Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is: what you give back is what you get. He uses technology, old and new – from the microphone to the fingerprint scanner – to project back at us our own bodily responses. That's the art here. To stare at the consequences of what our own bodies are doing as we stand here, trying to figure out what this exhibition is all about. The work only comes into being when we interact with the various kinds of digital technology that Lozano-Hemmer has manipulated to survey our responses. It feels very low-key, but also very invasive. It is as if we are being spied upon – by ourselves.

So step up to one of those microphones and see what happens. You speak into it, expecting to hear your own voice amplified. You hear a tiny snatch of yourself, but you also hear other voices that have spoken into this same microphone. If a group of you stand in a circle and speak all at once, it's as if you are listening to a crowd of absent witnesses to what you are saying. The artist has embedded a recording device into each of the microphones so that the voices of thousands of earlier speakers can be heard too.

Lozano-Hemmer's art is all about technology and subtle subterfuge. One room, the largest of all, consists of light bulbs, hung above our head in rows. At one end of the room, there are two parallel bars that, when you grip them, measure your pulse rate. This reading is immediately transferred to a light bulb, which begins to flicker on and off at the rate of your own pulse. Each bulb in this room measures a different human pulse rate. We crick our necks and admire evidence, in the form of all this lovely, irregular patterning, of our own mortality.

As we enter the exhibition, we are invited to stick our index fingers into a tiny metal orifice beside a screen. The pulse rate of our finger is being measured. The screen displays an image of our pulsing finger end, hugely magnified, and images of other pulsing fingers too, hundreds of them, diminishing in size as our eyes travel up the screen. Our own petty lives have been transformed into a theatre of ever shifting electronic possibilities. We feel unnerved, diminished, troubled, excited.

To 30 January (0161 235 8888)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform