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Illuminating inhalation: This trippy LED art exhibit pulses with your breath

Great art moves you, and in rarer cases still, great art moves with you. Such is the case with In the Glow of a Breathing Sphere, Prana by B-Reel, a stunning 13,000 display of LED lights that detects the rise and fall of your lungs, allowing it to quite literally breathe with you. Thanks to a sensor embedded within the gorgeous conglomerate of shimmering lights, PRANA detects its viewer’s presence, and notifies a javascript program housed within the computer that controls the sphere. Then, the magic really happens, as a customized series of light effects are triggered by an individual’s breathing patterns, enveloping the viewer in the visual representation of his or her own breath.

The brainchild of B-Reel Creative, PRANA is described by the creative agency’s managing creative director, Ben Hughes, as “an attempt to visualize the unseen energy of our bodies and augment it in a really interesting way.” Speaking with Engadget, Hughes noted, “Breathing is something that powers the body but you can’t see it or detect it in very many ways.” But with PRANA, the synergies of multiple breathing patterns are realized in a beautiful and creative way.

But PRANA is more than pretty lights. The technology utilized in the piece is among the most advanced of its kind, and B-Reel spent nearly a year in search of the perfect soft and hardware to bring its vision to life. The secret weapon is the XeThru chip, a sensor from Norway that is so sensitive, it’s capable of measuring a baby’s vitals. But it’s also incredibly powerful, capable of detecting a human presence through a wall. Generally, XeThru is used in security systems and disaster recovery efforts, but for B-Reel, it was reimagined and repurposed for art.

Said Hughes of its application, “[XeThru can] find people trapped in collapsed buildings. We’re using it for very sensitive motion detection. The way we’re reading the visitor’s breath is through the small motions of their chest as they stand in the middle of the exhibit.”

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Until recently, PRANA was available for public viewing at the Fridman Gallery in New York’s vibrant SoHo neighborhood, but the In The Glow of a Breathing Sphere installation is expected to hit the road and visit a number of other cities in the coming months. So for your chance to have your art interact with you, make sure you keep tabs on this particular exhibition.