Experiments in strobe light

CHAPTER 28 // June 1, 2012

We are fascinated by your society’s recent discovery of the quantified self. And a bit stunned by the fact that you haven’t made the obvious connection between dance, pleasure and wellbeing.

We decided to prove this point in a really simple manner.

The Nike Fuel Band is a new and highly popular device for tracking physical activity. One of the guests at the inauguration, Niklas, uses this device and struggles every day to reach his goal of 1500 “fuel”, mostly by taking walks and exercising.

Our hypothesis was that he would be able to reach this goal in less than an hour in the strobe light on the dance floor. He accepted the challenged and arrived at the embassy with a Fuel Band set to zero.

To encourage him, we connected his iPhone to a projector and visualized his Fuel Band app on the wall. The Fuel Band was in constant wireless sync with the phone, and the crowd at the inauguration could follow his progress toward 1500 fuel.

In less than 40 minutes he reached his goal.


The metaphor was not entirely misleading. I had entered a vibrant heart. The walls were lined with rows upon rows of pulsating red diodes, like veins. The forces at work were breathtaking – all with the sole purpose of transforming pure energy into soundwaves. The bass made my insides turn. And suddenly – I was a part of the dance. I was a part of the machine, my body enfolded by sound.

What I heard, what I felt, was not just solid bass and sharp treble. It was a wholeness that filled me. An absolute way of experiencing sound which I’d never before come close to.

I thought that I was the protagonist. That my dissolution from individual to a tiny shard of the collective was the main purpose. But that was just one part of it. This event, which occurred every single night in all Yamarillian cities, was not first and foremost a ritual.

It was an investigation.