New York: See the city's beating heart

Courtesy Rafael Lozano Hemmer

I'd like to think of myself as a New Yorker. So when I heard about a new interactive public light sculpture in Madison Square Park that gives a visual shout out to the city's vitality, I rushed over to see it—and take part.

Pulse Park, an installation by Mexican interactive art practitioner Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, uses the heart rates of two hundred visitors to activate theatrical spotlights across the central Oval Lawn.

Every night after dusk until mid-November, Madison Square Park will be embellished with these interwoven rays of pulsing light as an expression of the vital signs of its inhabitants.

When you enter the park, you measure your heart rate at the north or south end of the green. You place your hands on metal sensors for 15 seconds, and then let go to see your solitary spotlight pulse to the beat of your body's most vital organ. The remaining 199 are then activated; your beam of light will begin to move across the lawn sequentially as each participant measures his own heart rate.

Late last week when I visited, I followed my heart rate while dodging visitors who were posing for pictures haphazardly. While the aerial view of the matrix of light (shown in the simulated image posted above) may be more dramatic, I was more than happy to be on the green, immersed in what was essentially this city's vibrant heart.

The display marks the US public art debut of Lozano-Hemmer, who has exhibited his work in more than three dozen countries, including the Venice Biennale.

The interactive exhibit will be viewable from dusk until 10 p.m. in the park, which is located between Madison and Fifth Avenues, and 23rd and 26th Streets. Exhibit ends November 17.


The free Times Square walking tour

Related Content