Looking Ahead While Coming Back To Our Senses

All of my work aims to make that which is always influencing us but usually goes unnoticed—in our bodies and in the city—directly and surprisingly felt; in doing so we experience and reexamine circumstances of place, self and other anew.

Creating spaces that support and reference PEOPLE is gaining momentum world wide. In San Francisco, city planners, urban designers, artists and institutions alike are considering concepts of temporality, playfulness, sustainability and flexibility in projects in which ALL of our senses get to be involved.

One ongoing project that speaks directly to such concepts is our Heartbeat Soundscapes. I have set variations in galleries, plazas and on public radio. Next I’d like to work with the city of San Francisco on a large-scale project to create ‘round-table-like’ listening stations in which people can sit down across from each other and listen to each others’ heartbeats. The beats could also be amplified into the surrounding space, as well as on the internet. With multiple ‘listening stations’ installed nationally/globally, people could share and hear each others’ heartbeats in real-time across borders.

Hearing a live heartbeat softens, slows and enlivens people, in turn softening, slowing and enlivening the space they occupy. To take this most intimate, individualized reverberation and make it loud enough to be heard/felt by strangers is to gesture at something tangibly profound and undeniably shared. It is direct. It is immediate. It cuts through representation, metaphor and belief. (While then prompting and lending itself to exactly that.) Environmental psychology, most recently the influence of the vagus nerve and its role in the development of human social engagement systems, informs these designs.