Listening to Your Heart

September 11, 2013
By
“Pulse of the City” lead artist George Zisiadis watches Mayor Thomas Menino try out his public art display prototype downtown. East Boston will be one of five neighborhoods to have the new public art installed and will be located in Maverick Square. The art creates music based on the heartbeats of the people who approach it

“Pulse of the City” lead artist George Zisiadis watches Mayor Thomas Menino try out his public art display prototype downtown. East Boston will be one of five neighborhoods to have the new public art installed and will be located in Maverick Square. The art creates music based on the heartbeats of the people who approach it

Soon there will be an interactive piece of public art displayed outside the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center in Maverick Square that will play music based on your heartbeat.

“Pulse of the City”  is an innovative new public art installation that creates different music and rhythms based on the heartbeats of the people who approach and touch it. Boston will be the first city to install the public art exhibit that was first unveiled at the Urban Prototyping Conference in October 2012.

The way the art exhibit works is that in its normal state, the unit slowly pulses white light, inviting passersby towards it. When someone grabs the unit’s copper plated handles, the unit senses the person’s pulse and creates a slowly layering one-minute musical performance based on the elements of the heart rate. A ring of LED lights flash to accentuate the experience. Every eight heartbeats, a new musical instrument is layered into the performance. The music is different for and unique for each user.

“This is a truly unique project that connects Boston’s residents and visitors to art in a whole new way,” Mayor Menino said.  “’Pulse of the City’ encourages Bostonians to take a moment to slow down amidst the rush of the City and reconnect with themselves by literally listening to their own bodies. Most people only ever experience their heartbeat as a series of beeps and lines on a chart, but this creates a personal and creative expression of life.”

Aside from Eastie the City plans to install four other units at locations across the city, spread out across different neighborhoods and tied into areas with a connection to physical health and fitness.

“Pulse of the City” ties into Menino’s health and fitness campaign, Boston Moves for Health. Visitors are encouraged to try the devices after or even during exercise, as the higher the heart rate, the more interesting the musical performances become.

Each unit will be solar powered and connected to the City via the cellular network to provide valuable usage data. The project was funded from the City’s Streetscape Innovation Fund, a portion of the City of Boston’s Capital Budget intended to improve streetscapes.

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