Nik Swift (tiwonku)

MFA | Visual Communication Design


Yooo! I’m Nik, a human who consistently tries (and fails, and succeeds, and fails again) to live in the present, and to design things that align with the way that I see the world. I love human connections, music, nature, and even the internet (despite its flaws), and I try to combine these interests into my work using technology as a primary medium. I try to find the balance between making the world a better place and finding happiness in the meantime, and I’m honored that you are interested in exploring this part of that journey with me. 


This thesis is a small part in a long line of work that explores the role of technology in contemporary society, in particular how the attention economy incentivizes the replacement of “real” human experiences in organic spaces with “simulated” experiences in digital spaces, and how such incentives have been drastically heightened with the recent proliferation of transformer-based generative Artificial Intelligence technology. The project itself presents a speculative vision of the world where technology can fundamentally augment those human experiences (that are already occurring) rather than replacing them, through the amplification of real-time biological signals that present the present (moment) in the embodied senses of those consenting individuals providing those signals, and others within the vicinity. This iteration of the project focuses primarily on heart-rates as a fundamental signal of life that represents the present physiological state of being, visualized within an environment of open-minded observers and participants in a concert setting and beyond. This work hopes to present opportunities to expand research of real-time biometric visualization further into more biological signals and more diverse environments. Above all, this thesis tries to impart the importance of presence, if not onto the audience, at least onto the artist himself.


Visitors enjoying the space of Presense

People | 2024

Exhibition entrance with outside retrospective area

Vinyl, velvet, paper, older projects | 2024

Table with instructions for visitors

Apple watches, paper, wood, incense | 2024

Visitors present with each other

People | 2024

Show Entrance Artist Statement + Messages

Cardstock Paper, Risograph prints | 16x8in

Visitor taking a poster that resonates with her

Cardstock Paper, human, binder clip | 16x8in | 2024

Visitor opening the “present” to see what’s inside

Cardstock Paper, human, binder clip | 16x8in | 2024

Visitors exploring the ancillary exhibition outside the gallery

Cardstock Paper, human, binder clip | 2024

Wall dedicated to Pretty Lights implementation of this work

Cardstock paper, edited video, headphones | 2024

Visitor listening to Pretty Lights biometric recap video

Video, human | 2024

Visitors configuring their watches to send their heart-rates into the installation

Humans, Apple Watches | 2024

Nik helping visitors configure watches in front of projection

Digital projection, humans, apple watches | 2024

A visitor observing their heart-rate live in the space

Projection rendered in real-time | 2024

Show title

Vinyl Lettering | 2024

Backstage desk setup, running the experience

Messy equipment | 2024