A two-person heartbeat visualisation system that creates a feeling of body ownership that is no longer limited to the single body that we inhabit.
The idea of a mutual/ common sensory system is explored through this simple interactive device. Participants stand on either side of a two-way mirror and their pulses are read by placing their fingers on sensors embedded in the surface of the white plinths. These pulses are streamed to a computer where the data is averaged, producing a live pulse rate at a frequency exactly between that of the two. This rate is then used to control two lights placed between the participant and the mirror - blinking on/ off in rhythm with the averaged pulse.
The resulting experience is that of an unstable image of your own body and the body of the other participant, flashing back-and-forth in time with your common heart rate.
Through this work I wanted to investigate two things:
1. Would the pulses gradually increase/decrease so that they both eventually became the same? If so, this would show a clear link between between bodily (interoceptive) awareness and our physiological state.
2. Would this increased awareness of a synthesised mutual body have an impact on our sense of dissociation? Are we able to gain a sense of body ownership over multiple bodies?
The idea for this system came from wearable heartbeat visualisation systems I had made earlier. My aim was to make a lightweight unit that could be worn throughout the day as a way of training interoceptive awareness.
Huge thanks to Dr. Jane Aspell of Anglia Ruskin University for her advice throughout this project. Her research into interoceptive awareness and heartbeat visualisation was a huge influence on the early stages of the work.