This last year I debuted my first art show. On display were two heart responsive electronic pieces inspired by an experience I had at Burning Man. Exploring the desert playa one night, I bumped into a small, golf cart sized art car covered in LED lights. What was particularly notable about this vehicle was that it had a heart sensor that you could attach to your finger. Once the sensor picked up your heart rate, the entire car would start pulsating with your heart beat. It was deeply moving to observe my heart and my partner’s heart in this way. I was inspired to explore the concept further on my own. A few months later I did some research, bought all the electronics equipment I needed, and created my first heart responsive meditative mandalas.
I’m fascinated with this idea of using external inputs to bring awareness to our internal landscape. When someone initially plugs into one of these mandala pieces their first reaction is to tune into their own heartbeat to see if the LED pulsations are accurate.
Our heartbeat is ever present inside our chest. From before we are born until we die it is there. We never have to think about it, it just does its job. Yet there is so much more to explore and understand. Just on a sensory level, tuning into your heart, you can begin to feel the flow of blood throughout the whole body. You become deeply present with yourself just by feeling the physical heart.
I believe that this is incredibly therapeutic. It is a meditation unto itself. And this is the vision behind the mandala pieces, that one might have an external visual cue to reflect their internal state. As I continue to explore this work, I may try to make the LED colors responsive to changes in heart rate to put more emphasis on the bio feedback. In the meantime, the lights just cycle through the color spectrum as they pulsate with the heart. Here is a video of one of the pieces in action: