HYPNAPOD is an ongoing art and design experiment by the Unconscious Collective which explores the use of biofeedback generated by the heartbeats of audience members
The aim is to investigate somatic connections between people – how living beings synchronise behaviour through non-verbal biological processes they may not be aware of, such as entrainment.
This is a well-documented, though little understood, mechanism in which both physical and biological oscillatory processes become spontaneously synchronised, e.g. circadian sleep cycles aligning with night and day. In animals, individual biorhythms can also synchronise, including fireflies flashing in unison, and the alignment of menstrual cycles.
To do this, we’ve been experimenting with pulse sensor technology which sonifies the heartbeats of audience members, creating an evolving polyrhythmic soundscape fed back via speakers or headphones.
The idea is that as pulse rates become audible a mutual entrainment phenomenon encourages them towards synchronisation.
We’ve used microprocessors such as Arduinos and Rasperry Pi’s, linked via a wireless network to commercially-available pulse sensors which use both optical and ballistographic measurement techniques.
We are also curious about non-private spaces which facilitate peripheral kinds of sleep - naps, snoozing, dozing, daydreaming - known as hypnagogic states.
What kind of environments facilitate group experiences of such states - which we call ‘crowd snoozing’ - in public?
To explore these questions, we are conducting an ongoing research project to create a range of cardiophonic 'pods' designed to encourage relaxation and increased awareness of bodily processes and interconnection with others.
We are also working on expanding the network to enable groups of pods to communicate across geographical regions and countries, to create simultaenous global heart communication.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and is supported through Arts Tasmania by the Minister for the Arts, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, Detached Cultural Organisation and MPavilion through the Naomi Milgrim Foundation.