Celestial Conections

The project enhances the city to react to the vital force of visitors – their heartbeat.  The urban space is then no longer only an infrastructural element but also a medium for connection and a space for inspiration.

This version of the project is an interactive visual installation that connects both sides of the IJ river, in Amsterdam, by means of projections and (heartrate) sensors. The projections resemble celestial bodies in the night sky. The project transforms the space into a digital cosmos. The ferry or tunnels are no longer the only ways to reach the other side. The people of Amsterdam have a new mean of connection in the palm of their hands.

Here the concept illustration submitted to MAB 2020

The connection to Amsterdam north has been one of the key drivers in the development of the city infrastructure. In a similar way, Covid-19 has forced us to seek new means of connection. Some may say that physical contact is unavoidable for human connection. However, with the development of technology the digital component is more and more present in our every day live. In particular in urban environments. The city cannot remain any longer as a lethargic infrastructure element. With this project we address both of these issues by providing a digital urban space that responds to the visitors.

We use heartbeat data as a way to use biometric data as a mean to search similarities instead of precise identification of an individual. It is not possible to identify an individual by only the heartbeat. Also, the heartbeat is the most essential vital function we have yet we cannot control it. In this sense, just being alive visitors will interact with the urban space and relate to each other.

Theoretical References

I have been inspired by several theoretical references that address the apparatus which involves the urban space, art and technology.

Interaction Scenarios

Here a quick recall of the interaction scenarios in the home page.


Carmen is taking a walk on the north side of the IJ river. It is cold and cloudy as usual in Amsterdam. When emerging from behind the Eye museum she sees something on the other side of the river by the IJDock. It looks like the moon.

She walks to the square in front of the Eye. She sees lights close to the water. They are not the normal urban lights; they fade and brighten with an organic rhythm. She comes closer and sees two monoliths with a flat surface and a hand drawn on it. She places her own hand onto one of them and when she looks back to the other side, she sees that the moon is following her heartbeat, the life she saw before is now reacting to her being there alive.

When another person touches the other monolith now the moon reacts to both of them.


Derk-Jan has just arrived with the Intercity Direct to Central Station. It is a dark night with a clear sky. As usual the lights of the city are hiding the stars. The train stops before reaching the platform. He sees two planet-like objects on the face of the Overhoeks tower.  

He gets out of the train and walks to the ferries behind the station. By the pier in front of the bike parking he sees two monoliths with light fading and brightening in an organic rhythm. He comes closer and sees a surface with a hand drawn on it. He puts his hand on it and suddenly all the lights disappear. When he looks back to the other side a new celestial body has appeared on the face of the tower. It follows his heartbeat, and it changes the faces of the tower with it.

When another person touches the other monolith, a new celestial body appears. It interacts with the body already there. Now both celestial bodies influence what they see.