What would you do if you could spend any part of the next few days experiencing interactive video installations that respond to movement and voice, conductive sound sculptures that respond to touch, clocks that destroy themselves with the help of a turn-crank, a four-player "tactile" video game with no controllers, workshops on 3-D printing and VJ mashups, nightly music and multimedia performances and an assortment of family activities, among many other things, and do it all without spending one red cent?
Well, the future is here, Savannah.
Its name is PULSE, and it's far more engaging and user-friendly than you ever imagined. Backed largely by the city and hosted primarily at the Jepson Center - with a few ancillary happenings around town - PULSE is a five-day festival that celebrates the possibilities of technology and interactivity through art, performance, panels, workshops and lectures from creators grown locally and from around the globe.
"This year really feels like there's a whole lot of different things going on," said Harry DeLorme, senior curator of education at Telfair and the one-man brain trust behind PULSE.
Where past festivals have sometimes focused around certain general themes, this year's festival is a veritable cavalcade of digital and technological calamity, and there's truly something for everyone.
"It'll be hours of mayhem and fun," DeLorme said with a laugh.
Begun in 2007, PULSE started out as a handful of programs dubbed "arts and technology week," but the event has grown into something of a beautiful beast, with thousands attending each year.
DeLorme hopes to continue to grow the festival and incorporate even more venues around the city in order to share the PULSE experience with even larger audiences.
"Down the road, I'd love to see more of this stuff happening out in the community," DeLorme said. "Part of my goal with this is to really encourage this kind of work in Savannah.
"There are a lot of people doing interesting stuff right here in the city, but there was never a forum for it.
"So part of what I've been trying to do is bring together some of these national and international artists together with local artists and students."
PULSE is indeed the only festival of this kind in the southeast and in addition to the broad mix of visual and interactive art, there will be nightly musical performances that include the Flaming Lips-esque psychedelia of Nashville's Chalaxy, the versatile hip-hop stylings of Savannah's own KidSyc and the phenomenal talents of beatbox impresario Adam Matta, along with a few other audiovisual surprises.
In keeping with the spirit of PULSE, each musical performance will include some sort of visual element to it.
As KidSyc explained, he's working with the Nekstup Team to deliver his first interactive performance loosely based around the seasons.
"Usually it would just be me, the listener and the music," he says. "But here it'll include a visual component that will be affected by the crowd's cheers and noise."
There's so much more going on than we can even mention here (like the mad scientist sound contraptions of Invisible and Cuppetelli & Mendoza's gorgeous fiber art and video projections), so check out the full list of events online.
Each and every aspect of the PULSE festival is free and open to the general public, so just pick a night and go.
You're sure to be astounded and entertained in equal measures.