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Exhibition, "Personified," Allows Visitors To Turn Their Heartbeats Into Music

The opening corresponds with artist Greg Fox's recent album that turned his body's natural rhythms into tunes

While the human heart has been the inspiration for many songs in the past, it's a new phenomenon for a musician to use his own ticker as the direct source of a song's notes and rhythms. Greg Fox, formerly a drummer for Dan Deacon and Liturgy, recently released a new album, Mitral Transmissions, that literally uses the heart as inspiration for a new body of work that surprisingly does not focus on heart break, but rather heart rhythm.


To create the album, Fox developed new technology that generates music based on the organic rhythms of the human heart. The foundation of every track on Transmissions was created by a different parts of Fox’s own body. He hopes that this could technology could be used both as a diagnostic tool for medicinal reasons, but also a means for artists (especially drummers) to find and understand their body's natural rhythms.

To celebrate Mitral Transmissions, Philadelphia's Institute Of Contemporary Art (ICA) is exhibiting a complementary installation called Personified, which will allow visitors to use Fox's innovation to make music based on their own beating organs.

The installation encourages guests to play with Fox's machinery, as well as the plant-sonification project his label, Data Gardens, recently shared called Switched-On Garden, which included plantsoutfitted with sensors to create sounds based on human-to-plant interactions.

Personified is an opportunity to experience the cutting-edge interfaces used for both the plant-sonification and Fox's investigation into biological beats and rhythms. Guests of the event can develop their own music by playing with the human/computer instrument, or not play at all, and simply listen to their own bodies in stillness.

To sharpen the experience, Data Gardens partnered with Subpac, a tactile audio technology, that includes a pad that transfers low frequencies into physical vibrations. So when visitors of Personified are hooked up to a plant or listening to their own pulse, the sensory input will be enhanced by rumbling bass.

Data Gardens is slowly culling an amazing reputation for mixing “primitive electronic art and the synthesis of biological and digital technologies” as a medium for human art and expression. Even the way they distribute their music is organic, attaching digital album codes to artwork, that, when disposed, can grow into plants.

Personified opens tomorrow, February 19th, at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, and Greg Fox's album, Mitral Transmissions can be bought here. Finally, an album about the heart that doesn't make us sad.

Lead image via