Blooming highlights the importance of human presence and physical connection in our lives.

Our digital, globalized word allows us always to stay connected, but what is lost when our most meaningful relationships are mediated throughs screens? Drawing on developmental psychology research about the importance of touch to human well-being, Park questions how a lack of physical contact and in-person interaction might contribute to feelings of loss, alienation, dissociation, and melancholy.

"Blooming" is an audio-visual interactive installation that responds to physical contact between two to three participants. It takes the form of a life-size 3D cherry blossom tree, a common symbol of social ties and of the transience of life in East Asian culture. As a response to participants’ heart rates, gestures, and skin-to-skin contact as they hold hands or embrace, the tree will flourish in peak bloom and will even release petals. When participants let go, the tree will return to its pre-bloom state. The colors of the cherry blossom flowers change based on participants' heart-rates as they interact each other (the faster the heartbeats, the redder the tonality; the slower the heartbeats, the whiter the tonality). In addition to the tree’s visual response, sounds are also modulated according to the tree’s different stages: pre-bloom, blooming, maturing (petals falling).

The beauty of the tree in full bloom is an illustration of how physical contact enhances and brightens the human spirit. When a cherry blossom tree flourishes, as it does in "Blooming,” it is a reminder of human relationships at their peak. 

Photo courtesy of Lisa Park, Rain Embuscado

"Blooming" is commissioned by Nokia Bell Labs and New Museum's NEW INC as part of the artist-in-residence program from 2017-2018. The residency was held for a year from 2017-18 and "Blooming" was exhibited as part of the "Only Human" at Mana Contemporary

Commissioned and Supported by: Nokia Bell Labs and New Museum's NEW INC
Created and Directed by: Lisa Park
Sensor Development & Collaboration: Gang Huang (Nokia Bell Labs)
Technical Consultant: Sensorium Works
Technical Lead: Todd Bryant
3D Petals: Capitan Alegria
3D Assets: Jeremy Thompson
Heart rate Monitor programming: Ji Lee
Gesture Tracking programming: Kat Sullivan
Original Music by: Antfood

Thanks to NEW INC Team: Julia Kaganskiy, Lindsay Howard, Alexandra Darby, Mike Kelberman, Rain Embuscado
Thanks to Nokia Bell Labs Team: Marcus Weldon, Domhnaill Hernon, Sanjay Patel, Paul Wilford, Gang Huang, Ray Golden, Jacquilene Jacob, Kim Matthews, Ed Shutter, Jong Hoon Ahn, Rich Abbot

Year: 2018
Dimensions: 19ft (W) X 13ft (H) 
Medium: Custom-made touch sensors, Microcontrollers, Heart-rate sensors, Gesture tracking sensor, custom-programmed softwares, Projector screen, PC