Personal Portraits

A Living Trace of Loved Ones in the Home

Owen Mellett
MArch I 2023
1 The living artwork as it might appear in the home.

Society’s reliance on digital communications, spurred on by the increasing centralization of opportunity within select global locations, leaves those shifted by such forces disconnected from the places and people where they were raised. Though kept in touch solely via messages, calls, or the second-hand visibility of social media, the physical element of this absence hits our loved ones the hardest. The constant, nonverbal reassurance of a loved one’s presence has as of yet no good digital substitute. Simultaneously, however, the tools at hand for tracking our moods, health, and activities have never been more potent or varied. What if this information could be synthesized into a visual trace of the person beyond the familiar static portrait, a living artwork which embodies their physical and emotional state?

Leveraging Fitbit’s Web API, Python’s online functionality, and the potent visualizations of Processing, this project synthesizes the heartrate data from the Fitbit Inspire 3, creating a living image representative of the streamed heart rate data of the user, subject only to internet connection and regardless of geographic proximity.

Project video
2 First two rows: artwork variability (based on heart rate). Third row: visual inspirations from the art world.
3 The systems diagram for remote data processing using the Fitbit inspire 3.