<em>Pulse Front. View from the Luminato Festival, Toronto, Canada</em>

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Pulse Front, 2007
From the series Relational Architecture 12
Interactive installation with metal sculptures with embedded heart rate sensors, computer, search lights
Dimensions variable
View from the Luminato Festival, Toronto, Canada, 2007

A matrix of light over Harborfront, made with lightbeams from twenty of the world’s most powerful robotic searchlights, is entirely controlled by a network of sensors that measure the heart rate of passers-by. Up to 20 metal sculptures with embedded sensors and computers are placed along the harbor and these detect the pulse of people who hold them. The systolic and diastolic readings are immediately converted into light pulses by the computers and also determine the orientation of the beams. The resulting effect is a visualization of vital signs, arguably our most symbolic biometric, in an urban scale. When no one is participating, the matrix shows the heart rate recordings for the last 20 people who tried the interfaces.

With 200Kw of power and 15Km visibility, the installation intended to blend the intimate with the spectacular in one of the most emblematic public spaces in Toronto. The piece was live for ten nights, quietly presenting designs from dusk to midnight.

Despite the monumental size of the installation and its wide visibility, the project is not intended as a cathartic pre-programmed spectacle like a fireworks display or a son-et-lumière show. On the contrary, the piece is designed to attract constant, personal participation in an ever evolving parade of light sculptures generated by people.

Photo by Justin Erdman.

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