interactive light installation with an LED grid that responds to an optical finger sensor measuring a person's heartbeat, 2013

Pulse is an interactive light installation that utilizes the aesthetic formalism present in everyday systems to investigate the historical confluence of modernist architecture, the Digital Revolution, and the "evolution" of Soul to Disco. The structure itself was created by a physical layering of material systems, each following their internal logic, but in an excess of multiplicity. The grids speak to modernist architecture and its utopian ideals of modularity.  

The installation also serves to externalize and mechanize one of the most basic internal human processes - the pulse. The structure pulses in response to an optical finger sensor measuring a person's heartbeat. This creates a conversation between the viewer and the work, as the viewer literally activates the light with their heartbeat. The transition between analog to digital reinforces the relationship between man and machine, a relationship that has experienced a perverse inversion: originally the machine was inspired by the human, but at some point there was a shift and in many ways Humankind now looks to the Machine as the ideal.

The structure references the light up dance floors of the Disco era. The transition from Soul to Disco marked the invention of the synthesized rhythm. The identical, repetitive beats were simultaneously seductive and energetic in their clear mathematical perfection. It was then people started to move to a synthetic beat, moving to the digitized rhythm beyond the dance floor, in their homes, on the street, and even in their bedrooms. The shift to mechanical rhythm transcended discotheques and permeated daily life in a way that is now understood as the way it has always been.

photography by Chrysta Giffen dancer Rosanna Wyant