Interactive Art Installation Encourages Fitness and Health by Turning Heartbeats into Music
Mayor Thomas M. Menino today unveiled “Pulse of the City” an innovative new public art installation that creates music based on the heartbeats of the people who approach it.
“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.”
A prototype of “Pulse of the City” was first exhibited at the Urban Prototyping Conference in October 2012, and Boston will be the first city to install it. 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.
Mayor Menino was joined by members of the Boston Transportation Department and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics who worked on the project with lead designer George Zisiadis and Zebbler Studios, a Boston-based design firm that worked on the project. Zisiadis, a Harvard University graduate and interactive artist, created the concept for “Pulse of the City.”
The City plans to install five units at locations across the city, spread out across different neighborhoods and tied into areas with a connection to physical health and fitness:
· Downtown at Christopher Columbus Park
· East Boston at Maverick Square, in front of the new East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
· Dorchester at Ashmont Station
· Longwood along the circle at Avenue Louis Pasteur
· Roxbury in front of the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center
“Pulse of the City” ties into Mayor 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 founded from the City’s Streetscape Innovation Fund, a portion of the City of Boston’s Capital Budget intended to improve streetscapes. Recently, the Streetscape Innovation Fund has supported the pilot parklet program and City Hall To Go, the popular, food-truck inspired mobile government services truck.
PHOTO EDITORS: The lead artist is George Zisiadis. (pictured with Mayor Menino in Photo 3)