Pulse Breath Water

Kıvanç Tatar, Mirjana Prpa, Philippe Pasquier and Bernhard Riecke

Artificial Intelligence Award for Digital Art, sponsored by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
Pulse Breath Water

Pulse Breath Water is an interactive art piece that brings together three components: an immersive virtual environment (via Oculus Rift), embodied interaction (via breathing), and artificial intelligence to generate the affective sonic environment. The frequency  of user’s breathing provokes and challenges the interaction between the user and the substantial element of the environment: water. This minimalistic symbiotic play is supported by the agent system that generates sonic environment and brings the following three concepts together:
Pulse: The very first rhythm of a newborn life;
Breath: as a fragile human agency in this chaotic world;
Water: that equals life.

A reactive musical agent (artificial intelligence) generates the sonic environment using a sound memory. The agent is aware of the affective qualities of both, generated sound and the sounds in the memory of the agent. The agent follows the user’s breathing pattern using a mapping of the frequency of the breathing to the eventfulness of the audio. The visuals of the virtual environment change over the duration of the piece creating moody atmospheres. The behaviour and aesthetic quality of sound and visuals are the result of the negotiation between the system and the user, as long as the user is consent, present, and breathes.

The virtual environment in the Pulse Breath Water
Pulse Breath Water - System Design
Pulse Breath Water - visuals
Pulse Breath Water - exhale

Visuals are coded in Unity.


  1. Oculus Rift, SDK2,: head mounted display
  2. Desktop for the visuals - Specs: Video Card NVIDIA GTX 980 with HDMI video output (for Oculus Rift), CPU Intel i7, quad core, 3.60 GHz +, 8GB+ RAM, ethernet port, ethernet cable, USB Ports 3x USB 3.0 ports, 3x USB 2.0 port, OS Windows 8.1 64 bit, One screen (regular desktop monitor) to debug during the setup, keyboard, and mouse.

Audio and signal processing are implemented in MAX 7.


  1. Full Range headphones (Audio Technica ATH M50 or equivalent)
  2. Computer - Mac mini: 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, 8GB memory, 1TB hard drive, Thunderbolt to ethernet adapter (if mac mini does not have an ethernet port. The latest version has an ethernet port), Thunderbolt to hdmi adapter (if mac mini does not have an hdmi port. The latest version has an hdmi port). ​

Respiration sensor data is acquired using the M+M middleware.


  1. ProComp Infiniti respiration sensor & cable (SA9311M) - http://bio-medical.com/products/respiration-sensor.html#product_tabs_rel...
  2. ProComp2 - 2 Channel Biofeedback & Neurofeedback System w/ BioGraph Infiniti Software - T7400M - http://thoughttechnology.com/index.php/procomp2-2-channel-biofeedback-ne...

The piece requires an assistant to help users to put the sensor, oculus rift, and headphones. SFU SIAT can provide the respiration sensor if required. Please contact for more details.

Pulse Breath Water (Feb 2017)