Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump. When you walk into Connexions Gallery at 213 Northampton Street in Easton you’ll be greeted by the sound of a heart beating. If you’re with a crowd, it beats louder.
“Heartbeats” is the brainchild of Amanda Jimenez, a junior at Phillipsburg High School, who developed it as part of her work with the college’s Community-Based Teaching Program called The Lafayette Experience. Led by Jim Toia, the course teaches select local high school students about different kinds of art while they build their portfolios and learn from visiting artists.
Inspired by a passage from the Jonathan Safran Foer novel “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” Jimenez seeks to encourage the feeling of community by emphasizing human commonality.
The Foer passage reads: “What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers…? When you skateboarded down the street at night you could hear everyone’s heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like a sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone’s hearts would start to beat at the same time…That would be so weird, except that in the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn’t have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like a war.”
With that in mind, Jimenez uses pre-recorded heartbeats coming from a speaker connected to a motion sensor at the gallery in the heart of the city. “It needs people to activate it,” she says. “The more people, the more rapidly it beats.”
And just as people have a pulse, so does the city, with its hustle and bustle of pedestrians and traffic, she says.
After high school, Jimenez plans to go to college for international relations and Japanese studies.
Find Heartbeats at map locations 1 & 2