Urban Anointments is a 2014 Grant project made possible by Black Rock Arts Foundation, California.
Cultures across the world have used public art as a way of marking a space as sacred. In India in particular, anointments (usually in the form of simple lines and dots) adorn skin, trees, rocks, walls, floors and public spaces. The marking of a tree, or a rock as sacred would transform this otherwise mundane space into a common ground of connectedness, where people, often strangers would gather around and connect not only to each other but also to the cosmos.
With this project we create a series of “Anointments” that through the use of technology and art bring two people together and create sacred spaces in the urban context. It manifests as a series of wall-embedded interactive installations that invite two strangers to place their hands on a mural, watching it react and light up to their individual heartbeats. As the heartbeats of these two people sync up, the artwork illuminates itself in unexpected ways, and reveals hidden messages embedded in the wall that creates a shared moment of discovery between the participants.
Imagine walking in a quiet alley at night, a painting catches your attention and you notice an outline of a palms there glowing asking you to place your hand upon it. But that’s not all, in order to see the installation really come alive, it instructs you to ask someone sharing that space with you to do the same. When you both place your palms upon the art, you see that a series of embedded LEDs studded in the installation start to glow to the beat of both your heartbeats, allowing both participants the chance to sync their heart beats together while the street is illuminated by the beating of their hearts.
Rendering of the installation- made of layers of lasercut plywood that's been painted by a traditional thangka artist and Shilo Shiv Suleman.
The project also attempts to bring together traditional artforms like Thangka with modern day neurotechnology and fabrication methods like laser cutting. The artist that Shilo collaborated with was Karma Sichoue, a traditional thangka painter trained under the master courtpainter of the Dalai Lama.
The project will be completed and installed in Summer 2015 at the main entrance of the Dalai Lama's temple in Dharamshala.
Work in Progress from the installation
Several scientific studies have explored the phenomenon of heart rate syncing between people. We'll bring these experiments to the street with open-source pulse sensors (www.pulsesensor.com) connected to Arduino microcontrollers. When the user’s finger is over the sensor, we’ll be able to detect heartbeats by watching minute changes in their finger blood flow. We’ll send each user’s heartbeat to an Arduino powered from a small battery pack. Algorithms on the Arduino will use both users’ heartbeats as inputs to control the intensity and patterns of our embedded lights.
The project was conceptualized by Shilo Shiv Suleman and Rohan Dixit in 2014, designed by Shilo Shiv Suleman and produced with the assistance of Heather Stewart and Luke Iseman.