Pulse and Bloom



Pulse and Bloom is an interactive art installation that visualizes the heartbeats of participants with the hope of syncing human heartbeats in a rhythmic pattern
It consists of 20 lotuses with pulse sensors mounted on the stem, and so when you place your hand upon the lotus, the flower in the sky starts to beat with you heart. 

Furthermore, when more than one person places their hand upon the flower, the stem starts to pulse with both heartbeats, making it possible to watch how heart rates of people in intimate spaces start to beat in sync, much like fireflies flashing in patterns. 


Pulse and Bloom received the Burning Man Honorarium Art Grant in 2014 and has been featured in a host of international press (BBC, NBC, TechCrunch, The Guardian and more)



Saba Ghole, an Architect and interdisciplinary wizard who spends her days weaving together cutting edge technology with design and education for high school students.

Rohan Dixit, a neuroscientist turned entrepreneur who spent months wandering with brainwave readers and monks to create mindfulness technologies.

Luke Iseman, an Inventor living off-grid in shipping containers in Oakland who makes your gardens speak to you when they need love and care.

Heather Stewart, Crafter of metal, welding steel from Africa to the deserts of Burning Man and landlady of Shipping Container kingdoms.

Samuel Clay, Electronic Engineer who weaves tapestries of picobucks and LED landscapes, 

and me, Shilo Shiv Suleman, an Artist whose magical realism spills out of heart into realms of new technology, storytelling, interactive installations and Art for social change.



As a little girl, I drew countless images of lotuses coming out of hearts. As I grew older, I tattooed myself with this image, read mystic poetry about it. 

As a little girl, I drew countless images of lotuses coming out of hearts. As I grew older, I tattooed myself with this image, read mystic poetry about it. 

"In the fortified city of the imperishable, 
our body, there is a lotus
and in this lotus is a tiny space
what does it contain that one
should desire to know it?

As vast as this space above
is the tiny space within your heart
heaven and earth are found in it
fire and air and sun and moon
lightening and the constellations
all this is gathered in that tiny space
within your heart."

This year at Burning Man, the dream of this symbol came true with our installation Pulse & Bloom with amazing co-creators. Pulse and Bloom is an interactive installation with 20 lotuses that beat with your heart using pulse sensors.

There's a lot to be said about the lightning, sandstorms, stars and all the surreal moments experienced over the 2 weeks in the desert. But this one moment was particularly special. As me and Saba Ghole were tinkering and working on the installation one sandstorm, this amazing pirate ship emerged out of the dust and into the light. I had to take a moment to just stop, and give thanks for this magical universe I inhabit.




Wear a crown of flowers on your head
let its roots reach your heart.”
-Kabir, 16th century Sufi poet

Through our art installation “Pulse and Bloom,” we use technology to make our inner invisible worlds more visible. Using visual representations of our inner state, we aim to create group experiences of bio-synchronicity that make us more aware as individuals and more connected as a community.
Remembering the ancient philosophers and mystics that spoke of the human heart as the vehicle for union between individual and environment, we recreate this experience through modern heart-quantifying biosensors embedded within public art. Scientific studies show that people who spend a few moments connecting with each other, in time can sync their heartbeats to one another.
We believe technology can augment our emotional connection with others. When we visualize our heartbeats, we temporarily break the barriers of biology and share something previously hidden about ourselves. By reducing ourselves to our most basic and primal rhythms, we enter as equals on a platform on which to merge and transcend our individual boundaries.


Pulse and Bloom would not have been possible if not for the support of our larger team and collaborators: Vivek Chockalingam, Grace Boyle, Avijit Michael, Belinda Man, Matt Medved 
along with Zack London, Ajesh and all the hundreds of other people that helped along the process. 





My love,
Shilo

The Fearless Graffiti Project- Bahuchara and Ahmedabad

Presenting the Ahmedabad wall! 
The wall is inspired by the story of patron goddess of Gujarat- Bahuchara Mata who has an intense and fascinating story.
Story goes, that one day she was walking in the desert when she was followed by a group of men who started to attack her and grab at her body. 

In a quick and desperate moment, she cut off both breasts and handed it to them saying : 
"Here, you want these? Take them."
.
The gods who were watching this, were taken aback and made her a goddess and protector of women, as well as devi of the transgender community in India.

Interestingly enough, her vahaan is a bird, and it feels almost like once one steps 'beyond gender', one is free.

The affirmation here became: 'I am more than my body'


This wall was collaborative in the truest sense, there were three layers of interaction:
- Painting with traditional artisans from Natrani who were trained in vernacular gujarati mural styles
- Painting with local contemporary artists from the fearless collective like Aditi Gupta and Tuhin Paul of menstrupedia
and finally painting with the lovely kids of Usmanpura village, who had never picked up a paintbrush in their lives but had done so much mehendi that they had the finest line quality. 

It was painted on the household of well known activist, theatre person and artist Mallika Sarabhai, who also comes from a family of feminists and her own work includes delving into mythological ideas and making them contemporary. 






What's often wonderful about painting these walls, is that the process is as fearless as the outcome. We were out on ahmedabad streets, children, volunteers, families, all armed with buckets of paint in our hand till 3 am in the morning. Taking back the night, one brushstroke at a time. 

We also did a few street exhibitions of the posters and one in the beautiful 'Conflictorium' gallery space. One year later, the posters still find home in spaces around the world.

The Dream Universe of the Dewarists



The Dewarists Stage at the NH7 Weekender, Pune
Mapmaking Miniature Multiverses where stars hang low and hot air baloons blink their eyes at you. Giant metal 3d animal constellations, and an LED screen projecting star studded skies.



Earlier this year, the lovely people at OML decided to take a new approach to Art at a Music festival. Rather than having installations (like my Kabootar last year), what if each stage became a canvas for a different artist? There was Daku , Sameer KulavoorVaibhavi Kowshik and me. I got to do two stages- The Dewarists Arena, and it's sweet little hipster offshoot- The Other Stage.

My mother Nilofer Suleman started her journey into art as a Cartographer. She used to recreate these old Columbus era maps, and as a child, I'd spend hours watching her pour over them, creating rivers and mountains of ink with her fingers. 

 I think it's really here that both my fascination with travel and mapmaking began. And while her maps (and now her art) is very much inspired by the real world, and real streets, my maps were miniature magical multiverses, rooted only in the sky dome of the imagination. 

And so, I began to weave the Dream Universe of the Dewarists. The Dewarists is a show by Babble Fish productions that brings together musicians and artists from across the world to collaboratively create as they travel to different locations across India. Each episode is shot in a landmark building in a different inspired location, and for me that became the starting point of inspiration. I wanted to put down all these spaces that the Dewarists travelled to into one cohesive map. 
Here it is- the dream universe of the Dewarists, explained:

Capitol Cinema, Mumbai 
Apart from the building itself, it became about Bombay, the stones that crown Marine drive, the big red BEST buses.

Samode Palace, Rajasthan  


While Anoushka Shankar's marking on the map didn't get a building, she became a shrine of her own, and like the video it's all inkspills and flowers. 

Kaziranga was the next marking on the map, green layered tea terraces and forests and rhinos.

Shimla mountains and pinecones

the green apple fields and misty castles and breweries of Scotland

A Rose Compass
Because we all need some direction sometimes.

And a train to take us through it all. 


And that wasn't all. The larger idea was that behind this map of the Dewarists, would be animations of the sky that gave it a sense of movement and dynamism through the sets. 
And so I created over 40 animations that Activ8Media could use to VJ with. Here are gif versions of some of the animations. It was a beauty, The sun rose over the stage, rain clouds gathered as Shankar Tucker's band sang "Baadal barse", hot air baloons blinked their eyes at you, and when the sun set, the moon rose, constellations formed in the sky and lighthouses helped you find your way through churning seas. 






these are some of the many animations I created for the stage. 


40 animations, a 70 foot stage, 4 cities, over a hundred illustrations and 60 days of sleepless love later, it's all done. 
For me this has been a churning. A meditation in detail. 

How much detail could I find an appreciate in the show and it's music? how much detail and inspiration could I find in the sky? Each exact constellation was mapped out, windows drawn in exact proportion and placement of each building, each form was layered and gilded in gold. Having never drawn building's before, love's labour shone through. And this wasn't all, there was also another stage (details of that coming soon) and a lounge (that we didn't end up doing). Here's more from the process- 


Before I close this chapter, a burst of gratitude.
Thank you Vijay Nair, Vaibhavi, Srini (who handled the production of the stage), Dharam and the rest of the happy OML team and Nishant from Activ8media who did the Vjing.
Love
Shilo Shiv Suleman

A Something in a Summer's Day


"I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees"
-Pablo Neruda

*bursts into flowers *

Summer is here. 
I think of Humming. The smell of Oranges, your hands, piano keys, swaying.
the wind, thirst, gold sun, remote controlled planes,  Paper cranes flying on little lights,
 rustling, verdant, the taste of plums. the sky is blue and it made me happy. 



It's been a season of festivals, I last left Bangalore in December having finished my 
Kabootar installation, went to Goa for Fullmoon new year cycles and onward to the Kumbh Mela (the worlds biggest and oldest festival) where I ran with Naga babas, painted walls in Benaras, and sat on the back of an enfield for 2 months(but more on that later).
The second I got back home, I was flown off like a sparrow to Bombay for 'A Summer's Day' headlined by Norah Jones with a week to spare, an installation to create and a suitcase full of oversized flowers. 

And it was beautiful. I've spent a lot of time and energy in the last few months following the 
Women's movement in India, I was at the protests on 21-12-12 in Delhi witnessing the angry mobs and cries for death penalties. Coming back home to this place/work/festival of beauty and of femininity was healing. And Rumi reminds me: 


-
and flowers I will grow.




Here Come's the Sun
and I say, it's allright. :)


The installation was inspired by the poem behind the name of the festival. Emily Dickinson's 
'A Something in a Summer's Day'. It was all abundant-feminine-whimsical Midsummer Night magic and pinwheels and peacocks and Alice in Wonderland oversized flowers. 
'Wordless tunes transcending ecstacy' 
Norah's stage was lit up with fairylights and floating paper cranes.
I managed to meet her and her cousin Gingger backstage over some mangos. All girls of summer. 



A very pleasant surprise was all the Bombay love I recieved. So so many people came up to me and said they'd been following my work, took photographs and more :) *blush *. If you are reading this: Thank you. Your love makes me happy. 






Pinwheels and stars inside guitars
and at night it glowed :) 

"We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That's fine with us. Every morning
We glow and in the evening we glow again.”

Uber special shoutout to Elena Periera who made all the flowers by hand, and Kirian Meili who came rushing in at midnight armed with staplers when I needed more flowers.

Also, behind every glowy installation is a group of happy boys and girls putting it up,
Thank you Vijay Nair and Dhruv Jagasia. Also you, Dharam and Ishan and Francis and Arlene. You are all amazing!
Ps- speaking of sunshine, I'm currently designing and drawing for an amazing app called Sunlight that reads your brainwaves while meditating and all kindsa crazy stuff. More on that later. x