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This UNICEF Exhibit Uses Visitors' Heartbeats and Voices to Create an Emotional Musical Journey

A multi-city exhibit by Moment Factory uses attendees' heartbeats, voices, and movements to build an ever-changing symphony, serving as a metaphor for how everyone can help support UNICEF's mission.

Inside UNICEF's 'Heart Strings' Exhibit
“Heart Strings" is a new music-focused activation from UNICEF USA that aims to show visitors how their personal actions can support the humanitarian aid organization's mission. In a room called "Voices of Power," for example, attendees can shout messages of empowerment into megaphones, contributing to an ongoing, ever-changing song that guests listen to at the end of the experience.
Photo: Courtesy of UNICEF USA

HOUSTON—International multimedia studio Moment Factory has worked on groundbreaking, special effect-filled projects for clients like Billie Eilish, The Killers, and the Las Vegas Sphere. So, when the company's general manager, Jamie Reilly, described a recent UNICEF collaboration as "probably the project I'm proudest of in my 20-plus years in the business," you know it'll be something cool.

Reilly was talking about "Heart Strings," an ongoing walkthrough experience that kicked off its multi-city run at POST Houston from March 22 to April 7 and aims to bring awareness to the needs of children around the world. Moment Factory, which specializes in interactive technology, drew from UNICEF’s pillars of health, education, protection, and respect to create a variety of rooms that uniquely showcase the global efforts of the humanitarian organization, while also inspiring visitors to add their own voices to the cause—quite literally, as the experience culminates in a musical journey that each attendee contributes to. 

“When you arrive, you hear your own heartbeat—which then becomes the foundation of a song that’s in constant evolution as more people come into the experience and register their own heartbeats," explained Reilly, whose team started working on the project more than a year ago. "As you navigate through the space, you read stories of children around the world and interact with certain elements and quotes from those stories. As you’re choosing moments to interact with, those words are added to the song."

After that, guests visit a light installation surrounded by megaphones. "Here, it’s about utilizing your voice—so you can again communicate the words you’re feeling or that have touched you; things like 'empowerment,' 'climate,' 'love,'" added Reilly. "That all continues to fuel this song until you arrive in the last section, where you get to listen to and enjoy the final version of the song you’ve participated in—and interact and dance with the children of UNICEF around the world that we’ve collected footage from.” Inside UNICEF's 'Heart Strings' Exhibit“Through many of our projects, we've found that when people evolve from passive participation to active participation, it doesn’t really matter where you’re from or how old you are," said Reilly. "There is something very intuitive about how to communicate and engage with these elements."Photo: Courtesy of UNICEF USA

To create each of the event's interactive rooms, Moment Factory worked extensively with UNICEF's vast collection of documentary footage, photographs, and human stories. These components were incorporated with lights and sounds that respond dynamically to people speaking, intertwining attendees' voices with those of kids around the world. “The song is in constant evolution and ever-changing, so you can come over and over and there will be a new experience," pointed out Reilly. "I have goose bumps just talking about it!” 

The experience's core message is all about empowerment, she added. â€śWe live in a very complex world, and so many people forget that as individuals, we can all have an impact. In each zone, there are actions either through movement or through voice, so people leave feeling that they really understand UNICEF’s mission and feel empowered that their own personal actions can influence and support children of the world.”

Now that the Houston edition has wrapped, the experience will be traveling to Atlanta from April 19 to May 5, Boston from May 17 to June 2, and Chicago from June 14-30—with more cities likely to be announced. Ticket prices start at $23, and all proceeds will go to UNICEF’s mission.

Scroll down for more photos and behind-the-scenes details from the experience, which was produced with coordination, execution, and operation help from Production GlueInside UNICEF's 'Heart Strings' ExhibitVarious zones include "Heart Beats," where visitors' heartbeats contribute to the song’s rhythm; "Living Lyrics," where selecting words from children’s quotes composes the song’s lyrics; and "Voices of Power," where sharing messages of empowerment builds the song’s chorus. The experience culminates in "Harmony Hall," where visitors learn more about UNICEF initiatives and are encouraged to pledge their support.Photo: Courtesy of UNICEF USAInside UNICEF's 'Heart Strings' ExhibitTo the Moment Factory team, the key was striking the right balance between education and entertainment. “When you think about UNICEF, its mission encompasses so much—all centered on protecting the children of the world," noted Reilly. "So it was very important for us to tell these stories while also empowering individuals throughout the experience, and helping them each understand the power they can have. And also making it fun!"Photo: Courtesy of UNICEF USAInside UNICEF's 'Heart Strings' ExhibitIn each zone, guests' movements or voices influence the song—serving as a metaphor for how their own personal actions can influence children around the world. “The technology is very complex, but the interaction is simple," explained Reilly. "We want people to forget there’s even technology. I always think we’re successful when you forget there’s a screen or projectors and just get lost in that sense of wonder.”Photo: Courtesy of UNICEF USAInside UNICEF's 'Heart Strings' ExhibitMoment Factory has been around for more than 20 years—“we started doing projection mapping before that was even a term that existed!” said Reilly—but has really expanded its interactive capabilities in recent years. “Through the amazing partners we’ve worked with around the world, we’ve really been able to develop and expand our multimedia toolbox. Sometimes it’s even hacking existing technologies, reinventing them, and making them do different things.”Photo: Courtesy of UNICEF USAInside UNICEF's 'Heart Strings' Exhibit"I feel so privileged to produce an experience that conveys the good of the world, and how we can all come together to help the children of the world—which is the future of our world," she added. "This is probably the project I'm proudest of in my 20-plus years in the entertainment business."Photo: Courtesy of UNICEF USA

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