Isabel Leon/City of Boston
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino on Friday introduced a new interactive public art installation at Christopher Columbus Park that combines aesthetics with athletics.
“Pulse of the City” is a solar-powered unit that has a large, cartoonish heart shape with copper-plated handles on either side. In repose, the unit emits slow pulses of white light to attract the attention of passers-by, city officials said in a statement.
Then, when someone takes hold of the handles, it creates brief musical performance based on the person’s heart rate, which is accompanied by a flashing ring of LED lights. A new musical instrument joins the mix after every eight heartbeats, the city said, generating a unique tune for each user.
“This is a truly unique project that connects Boston’s residents and visitors to art in a whole new way,” Menino said in a statement.
“‘Pulse of the City’ encourages Bostonians to take a moment to slow down amidst the rush of the city and reconnect with themselves by literally listening to their own bodies,” Menino continued. “Most people only ever experience their heartbeat as a series of beeps and lines on a chart, but this creates a personal and creative expression of life.”
The installation is tied to the public health fitness goals of Menino’s Boston Moves for Health, the statement said, and city officials hope visitors will use the units during or after exercise, when higher heart rates will create more interesting musical performances.
Boston will be the first city to install the project, the statement said, with units planned for areas with connections to health and fitness, including Christopher Columbus Park along the North End waterfront, Maverick Square in East Boston, Ashmont Station in Dorchester, Avenue Louis Pasteur in the Longwood Medical Area, and in front of the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in Roxbury.
The concept for “Pulse of the City” came from lead designer George Zisiadis, an interactive artist and Harvard University graduate who worked with the Boston-based design firm Zebbler Studios and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics to develop the project, according to the statement.
Funding for the project comes from the city’s Streetscape Innovation Fund, a fraction of the city’s capital budget set aside for improving streetscapes, which has also provided support for City Hall to Go and the city’s pilot parklet program.