PULSE [2021]

An Environment-Controlled Led Light Sculpture. By Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer

Experimenta Life Forms International Triennial of Media Art, 2021-2023

Plimsoll Gallery, Ten days on the Island Festival, Hobart, Australia, March-April 2021

The Lockup, Newcastle, Australia, July-September 2021

PULSE: The Life Force of Trees is an led light sculpture by PluginHUMAN. The shifting light and sound scape is driven by environmental data collected while observing significant trees in the Amazon, Panama, Taiwan, India and Australia. The artwork provides a broad international perspective, speaking to the interconnectedness of global ecosystems. The title of this artwork, PULSE, refers to both the electronic activation of the sculpture while also pointing to recent scientific research that identifies sophisticated communication systems within and between trees. PluginHUMAN photographed each tree at a microscopic level and these images were then printed onto the recycled acrylic that encases the sculptural forms. The work ruminates on the sentience of trees and, by extension, all flora and other living organisms – asking audiences to contemplate our relationship with the complex landscape in which we live.

The immersive artwork DREAM 2.2 by PluginHUMAN.

The led lights at the core of the work are controlled by environmental data collected from each tree’s location. This includes recordings of soil moisture levels, temperatures, barometric qualities, movement and light. The different trees and their locations provides a broad international perspective, speaking to the interconnections between global ecosystems and the ways they can be represented as a single, living breathing entity. The sonic element of the work was developed through environmental field recordings of the trees and the ecosystems that support them. This includes recordings of the internal sounds of trees and underwater recordings from significant waterways adjacent to some of the studied trees. These juxtaposed recordings form an evocative audio score that transports the audience into the centre of each of these unique landscapes.

PluginHUMAN_Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer

PULSE is entwined in the research and discoveries of molecular biology and biotechnology, which has made remarkable steps in revealing the sophistication and interconnectedness of flora, fungi and microbes. The work ruminates on the sentience of trees and, by extension, all flora and other living organisms, asking us to contemplate our relationship to the complex landscape in which we live.

In 2019 PluginHUMAN took part in the  LabVerde: Artist Immersion in the Amazon program and the Naturalism Artist Laboratory program in Panama. During these residencies they conducted studies and collected tree data from deep inside the Brazilian Amazon and in the jungles of Panama. This led light sculpture has also been shaped by PluginHUMAN’s research and data collection in Varanasi (India), Wulai (Taiwan) and Melbourne (Australia).


Interview with Betty Sargeant.


Justin Dwyer ~ Artist, technical design, programmer, composer

Betty Sargeant ~ Artist (micrographs), technical design, producer, field recordings

An Experimenta Commission 2020.

Thanks to the Exertion Games LabMonash University, Australia.

Thanks to Casper Plum.


PluginHUMAN have created a series of environmental artworks. PULSE is part of a wider body of work. Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer have created five environmental artworks and led light sculptures that provide audiences with immersive and interactive experiences. These include the art lighting installation BREATHE and the projection mapping video artwork CONCEAL.

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PluginHUMAN: Justin Dwyer and Betty Sargeant


PluginHUMAN is a multi-award-winning art duo led by Dr Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer. PluginHUMAN are at the progressive edge of their field, providing audiences with new cultural, environmental and scientific perspectives. Their artworks address the leading questions and concerns of our times.

PluginHUMAN’s real time art centres around the art of illumination. They create projection mapping, video artworks, and led immersive multi-sensory environments. They use the medium of light to translate complex data into meaningful audience experiences.

PluginHUMAN has created commissioned artworks for institutions such as the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (Taiwan), the Asia Culture Centre (South Korea), Questacon (Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre), the Melbourne Museum (White Night Festival, Australia) and Experimenta (Australian triennial touring media art exhibition). They have exhibited in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. PluginHUMAN were awarded the Rupert Bunny Foundation Visual Art Fellowship (2019/20); they’re developing new carbon neutral and carbon negative materials and working methods. They have also won Good Design Awards (2020 and 2018), and a Victorian Premier’s Design Award (2017).

PluginHUMAN has an acute understanding of the role that technology plays in contemporary society. They reimagine new technologies to produce artistic innovations, creating meaningful large and small scale audience experiences for indoor spaces and outdoor public arenas. They specialise in immersive and interactive art environments.


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