Cell generation, nerve synapses, walking and speaking – we each have unique inner rhythms working in harmony. Our heartbeat is our essential rhythm – human and recognizable as different from those of bird, beast and fish. Rhythmically, humans have more in common with each other than not. But over the millennia, we have focused on the differences.
For thousands of years we have incorporated ritual into our everyday lives. From sunset gatherings, to coming of age ceremonies, weddings and funerals. In modern day society, we have lost sight of the rituals, and our communities struggle.
Using technology, Cornell Coley and Kate Reed have reimagined ritual objects, creating an object that adorns and works with the body. This ritual object makes our body’s natural rhythms visible, highlighting what connects us as humans.
Complementing this piece, the dance movements of its creators acknowledge the essential nature of human movement with this art. They communicate that neither artist is “the other.” We respond to the music and the art by putting our bodies in motion, offering an intuitive view of our different, yet complementary experiences in this collaboration.
Our ritual object is shown in three phases, worn in three ways. A heartbeat ceremony starts off the ritual. The object is worn as a crown to call attention and gather the gaze, as the object responds to the heartbeat of the wearer.
The ritual next moves into the groove phase. The object is worn as a collar, creating a mask for the wearer’s body. This phase features a samba-inspired rhythm and is meant to gather communities. The object flutters with light and excitement in this phase.
The ritual ends with a meditation. The ritual object is worn low on the neck, allowing it to exist as more of an object, and less as an accessory to the wearer. The object glows leading the breath of the meditation.
The ritual object is made of copper. Set into the object are Tourmalated Quartz, which symbolize balance and protection. The quarts are lit up by LED lights which are attached to a heart rate sensor and an Arduino.
The music was created using GarageBand, using a condenser microphone for voice and voice-related sounds and a cardioid microphone for the instruments. A series of drum machines were programmed to create the drum set rhythms. The heartbeat ceremony sounds were created with a buffalo drum and a tongue drum. The groove soundtrack used three electronic drum set tracks, two percussion instrument tracks and two vocal tracks. The final meditation track used five instrument tracks with small percussion instruments simulating natural sounds of birds, frogs, wind and chimes.
We mark this time in history and contribute to the movement that urges us all to recognize our common humanity as we determine our future of our country and our Earth.
Kate Reed builds wearable technology leveraging the principles of nature to connect humans, computers, and the natural world. She pioneers the field of Biomimetic Wearable Computers. Her designs and inventions have been featured at the White House, Boston and New York Fashion Week, Museum of Design Atlanta, the Hackaday Superconference, MIT Museum, and the Boston Children’s Museum. Her work can be seen at https://katereed.art/
Cornell Coley, M.Ed. is a percussionist, dancer, teacher whose work spans performance, community development, education and health. His major cultural influences include the traditions of West and Central Africa, the Caribbean and Brazil. He is a trained HealthRHYTHMS facilitator and certified by the Drum Circle Facilitators Guild. Mr. Coley has won numerous local and national grants and awards, including the Mass Cultural Council, NEFA and the NEA. He has taught Afro-Latin dance at 10 major colleges. His work can be seen at http://www.afrolatin.net/.
Collaboration made possible by the Cicada Art at a Distance Grant

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