This Sidewalk Art Installation Transforms Heartbeats Into Music

And helps local officials understand public space.

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George Zisiadis

What if we could ditch the chaotic rhythm of the city, if only for a minute, and reconnect with the rhythm of our heartbeat? A new series of art installations in Boston is trying to do just that, inviting pedestrians to grab on and groove to the music of their bodies.

How does it work? George Zisiadis, the artist behind the project, writes in an email:

We designed music that would complement different heart rate levels. The unit detects your pulse and then an algorithm determines the best sounds to play for you. That music then plays in synchronization to the beat of your pulse and adapts in real-time. The result is music from your heart!

Watch the "Pulse of the City" in action in this video.

Zisiadis first exhibited a "cardboard and auto body putty" version of "Pulse of the City" at San Francisco’s Urban Prototyping Festival in October 2012, to positive reception. Boston took note and commissioned Zisiadis to make the concept a reality.

Early September, these solar-powered hearts were installed in Downtown, Longwood, East Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester, five neighborhoods with heavy pedestrian traffic. In its first weekend, the units recorded over 1,000 interactions. This history of interaction is uploaded wirelessly, allowing local officials to learn more about how to best use these public spaces in the future.

All images courtesy of George Zisiadis. 

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