Hello from the other side... Let our hearts beat together

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With its alien appearance and intimidating form, it’s hard to believe Tiffany Trenda’s latest creation is hoping to explore a very human interaction. Yet she claims the futuristic suit helps her to do just that.

A new media performance artist, Trenda has developed her 3D printed costume, named ‘Ubiquitous States’ to probe the complexities of human synergy. Premiered at Context Art Miami last month, it features an integrated screen that displays the heartbeats of both Trenda and those she interacts with. Heart monitors in the fingertips of the suit pick up the participant’s heartbeat when Trenda touches their wrist or neck, while Trenda’s pulse is continually monitored from inside the suit.

For Trenda, the work is an attempt to find connections between our high tech world and its effect on rather more fundamental interactions. “We’re downloading, texting, interacting everywhere, at any point and any time, can we measure these new emotional connections digitally?,” she says.

Clad in the black outfit, Trenda engages her subject through touch and sound - using headphones to hear one another’s heartbeat. This, she says, allows their heart rhythms to synchronise, as shown by the monitor on Trenda’s front. The costume, she believes, shows that this very real connection can form through a ‘virtual’ interaction.

Physiological synchronisations, such as the heart rhythm patterns Trenda describes, have attracted much discussion in the scientific community. Whilst Dr Panagiotis Mitkidis, of Aarhus University, Denmark, believes such synchronisation is possible, Dr Ivana Konvalinka, researcher in Cognitive Systems at the Technical University of Denmark, is more skeptical. She explains that while Trenda’s phenomenon would make interesting research, she has not seen proof of it before.

With her work incorporating modern technology, Trenda sees a very clear link between art and science. “Both disciplines require a process,” she says. “You come up with a hypothesis or an idea, which you test and test.”