Toronto's heartbeat will ignite its skies this summer.
Pulse Front: Relational Architecture 12 is a massive spectacle of light created by renowned electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Using 20 robotic searchlights, 200,000 watts of power, biometric sensors and the beating life force of participating audience members, it will form the centrepiece of the inaugural Luminato arts festival when it has its world premiere, at dusk, on May 31.
While you won't be able to hear the thumping of this interactive sculpture in the sky, you will certainly see it throbbing across Harbourfront Centre -- from as far as 15 kilometres away.
Lozano-Hemmer, the Montreal-based, Mexico-born artist who dreamed up this light show of life, says it has been calibrated to avoid flight paths and nearby residential buildings.
The installation will be activated by 10 metal sculptures, positioned along Harbourfront's waterside walkway for the duration of the festival. Each sculpture will be fitted with biometric sensors, similar to the cylindrical hand bars on a treadmill. When someone grabs onto the bars, the machine will read the person's systolic and diastolic pressures, and convert them into pulses that are then beamed over the city through the swaying strobes of 20 robotic searchlights.
The show will continue from dusk to dawn for the duration of the festival, which runs until June 10.
"My works are platforms to personalize public space," Lozano-Hemmer said at yesterday's press conference, joking about how the interactivity of the show might disappoint those expecting "basketball players and midgets."
Biometric technologies are often used in eye scanners, fingerprinting interfaces and modern means of fighting terrorism. Lozano-Hemmer says he was inspired to "make something more poetic out of it."
Pulse Front is an evolution of an earlier work, Pulse Room, which used 100 incandescent light bulbs and heartbeats to light up an interior room. That earlier installation is one of five the artist will be displaying at the Venice Biennale later this year.