The Heartbeat

One of the firsts issues we realized this project could have was the fact that hugging a mannequin is never the same as hugging a person. Although, as we already said, during the interview to the psychiatrist, we realized that hugging a mannequin might be easier than hugging a person the participant doesn’t know, we wanted to give the participant a bit more the feeling that he is hugging someone, as close as possible as if he was hugging a real person.

To overcome that problem, we decided to implement The Heartbeat, a blinking red light placed in the mannequin chest, where the heart of a person would be.

For that, we used 2 high density red LED’s that would start blinking right when the participant starts hugging the mannequin.
With this, we also wanted to be able to deliver a real-time feedback to the participant. We couldn’t do that with the audiovisual projection because we needed to measure for how long each hug was given to define the feeling for that hug, so we needed to wait for the end of the hug to start the audiovisual projection. According to Myron Krueger’s most know sentence, “Response is the medium”, we also thought it could become either uncomfortable or confusing to the participant to start hugging the mannequin and not have an immediate response from the installation. He would, at least, think he was doing something wrong.

So, The Heartbeat has been a good solution to overcome both these issues. We also wanted to start playing a heartbeat sound while the participant was hugging the mannequin and the LEDs were blinking. Unfortunately, due to programing issues and lack of time, it was not possible to implement, although the heartbeat sound was recorded, edited and ready to be played on the exhibition.