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Inhale, Exhale: The LED Sphere that Lights Up Your Breath

A site-specific installation whose light sequences respond to your breathing opens at Fridman Gallery.
July 13, 2015, 2:46pm
All images courtesy Fridman Gallery unless otherwise noted

Prana Trailer from B-Reel on Vimeo.

When the Fridman Gallery in downtown New York B-Reel the opportunity to exhibit work, the interactive design studio put staff ideas to a vote. The overwhelming winner came from Mike Potter, one of B-Reel's art directors, who pictured a breathing sphere of LEDs with a viewer positioned at the center of the installation, triggering patterns of light and color with every inhalation and exhalation. The site-specific piece, entitled Prana, is based on Potter's daily meditation practice, and quite literally brings to light the invisible energies of our bodies.

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"It's amazing to us now how much the final installation resembles his initial idea," remarks the creative team at B-Reel. "At that time, we had very little idea how we were going to build it." After creating a 1:1 simulation environment of the gallery space and sphere, the team began testing a variety of available input methods to recognize and track the viewer's breathing. They eventually settled on the Xethru, a single-chip radar sensor that detects the small movements of the viewer's chest as they take in air.

The final, room-sized installation is 12' in diameter and counts 13,221 LED lights inside 5,422 feet of acrylic tubing. One by one, participants stand inside the suspended sphere and communicate with a seemingly sentient technological being that glows and colors the room with each of their breaths. Throughout the exhibition, the Fridman Gallery has scheduled a series of sound and spoken-word performances that further explore this dialogue between humans, technology and the environment. The roster includes a duo of cyborgs, a composer who plays stringed instruments through electronics, and a Duet for Scuba and Saxophone, to name just a few.

Courtesy B-Reel

Courtesy B-Reel

In the Glow of a Breathing Sphere is open at Fridman Gallery until July 31. See other projects by B-Reel that explore similar themes, such as Mind Scalextric and Midwinter Light Up, on the studio’s website.

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