Pulse Topology

October 2 to 31, 2021

In the height of COVID-era lockdowns, The Bentway, Exhibition Place, and artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer invited audiences to rediscover the Gardiner as a shared space for human connections, through an artwork powered by collective heartbeat. Pulse Topology took over a massive, enclosed storage chamber beneath the Expressway, never-before-seen by the public.

Pulse Topology is an immersive audiovisual art installation created by Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (born 1967), an internationally recognized media artist working at the intersection of architecture, technology, and performance. Situated in a hidden storage space under the Gardiner Expressway, the work offers a glimpse into a striking industrial part of the city, repositioned here as a site for human connection.

Inspired by the void below and the rhythmic quality of the Expressway above, Pulse Topology createsasecondary canopy composed of 3,000 suspended lightbulbs, each flickering to the heartbeat of a participating visitor. Touchless biometric technology captures visitors’ real-time pulses, which are then reflected in light and amplified sound that mixes with the ambient drone of the highway overhead.  Collectively the lightbulbs sketch a series of crests and valleys – an intimate landscape that visitors are invited to roam. This platform for participation continues to evolve over the course of the exhibit, with new recordings deleting older ones from the exhibit, as a kind of memento mori.

Pulse Topology is the latest work in Lozano-Hemmer’s Pulse series, comprised of projects that use biometric sensors to create interactive audiovisual experiences from the basic biological element we all share: the heartbeat.

To participate, over 7,500 visitors placed the palm of their hands underneath one of the three suspended conical sensors in the room. As the pulse was detected (within 10 to 15 seconds), gradually the heartbeat would join the topology above.

Pulse Topology was co-presented by The Bentway and Exhibition Place. The exhibition marked the first collaboration between the two partners who are working together to create new connective possibilities between the neighboring sites, as well as shared opportunities for community engagement.

press highlights
see this space in its raw “before” state:

complementary content

“Heart of the City Champions with CAMH

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health and wellbeing was top of mind. Through a partnership with CAMH (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), The Bentway and Exhibition Place  invited health care workers from across the city to help launch Pulse Topology.

Measuring the personal impact of public art with HeART Lab

With CAMH’s HeARTLab, we surveyed those who attended Pulse Topology to learn more about their perspectives on public art, mental health and wellbeing, community, and the impacts of the pandemic.

O Espaço (The Space) with Art Spin

Choreographed and performed by Pulga Muchochoma, O Espaço (The Space)examines a complex range of movement, starting with the very beating of the human heart and the spaces in which not just those myriad movements but existence itself is illuminated for us and others to witness. Co-presented with Art Spin.




  • Exhibition Place


  • Dérive Art Agency
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health


  • Government of Canada
  • Government of Ontario
  • Hal Jackman Foundation
  • City of Toronto
  • The McLean Foundation
  • Bureau du Québec à Toronto
  • Presented as part of Artworx TO