The “Heartbeat of America, Today’s Chevrolet” takes on new meaning. The Heartbeat Bass Booster project by Takehito Etani and David Tinapple involves one seriously pimped out Chevy Cavalier. Driving the project is a heart-shaped pendant with a heart sensor that clips to your finger or earlobe. Plug that into a PowerBook running Max/MSP, and your beating heart pumps out bass through the car’s subwoofer, while controlling the bpm rate of heart-themed music and driving an LCD, projector, and under-the-car LCDs, all integrated into the automobile. Good old-fashioned audio signal works the magic (since your heart is a kind of percussion instrument), but the effect of your heart controlling the speed of the music and translated into ghetto-thumping bass is . . . unusual.

The Chevrolet made an appearance and “performance” at Carnegie Mellon’s Miller gallery with the help of a motorsports company, which apparently was experimenting with avant-garde installations on a break from their usual racing and bikini contests. (Takehito is a CMU student.) The work also comes complete with a wicked-looking installation version involving a flaming hubcap on a wall, just in case you need this in your living room.

Check out the project site for details and videos, including a Max/MSP interface that looks and sounds like the heart monitors on Star Trek, and a music video demonstration of how to use this technology to pick up girls.

Courtesy musician and developer Dan Nigrin, who notes, “Now if *this* isn’t CDM material, I don’t know what is!” Well, Dan, I was hoping for a heart monitor plugged into a hovercraft, but I guess I’ll settle.

Looks like this was originally on We Make Money Not Art. Budding interactive artists, feel free to pimp your creations here, too.