Pandemic Pulse drains your computer's resources at the rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths in your state. It exhausts your CPU power at the rate of local infections and dims your screen at the rate of local COVID-19- related deaths. The application recontextualizes relevant epidemiological data about the pandemic and tries to make it relatable and tangible on a personal level. Feeding off our computers, it thrives on the same platform we use to track news of COVID-19 and its impacts. This time, through our devices, we can experience specific effects— a certain (computer) slowness, a dimming (of the screen)— from its omnipresence.
Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 an international health emergency on January 30, 2020, the virus has dominated the news. The pandemic has profoundly shaped our “new normal.” News reports frame the virus’s effects chiefly in terms of either epidemiological rates (of morbidity and mortality) or lost capital: profits and jobs lost. Simultaneously, especially outside of COVID-19 “hot spots” filled with ambulance sirens, the virus has somehow remained abstract, invisible, and intangible to so many-- so that large swaths of Americans, following our current President, claim that it is nothing more than a “typical flu,” a conspiracy, or “Chinese.”
National figures for COVID-19 infections and deaths are so large that they strike many of us as simultaneously overwhelming and meaningless or incomprehensible. Meanwhile, lockdowns have made our everyday lives devoid of physical touch and in-person interactions, and have instead rendered our computers and phones as the primary or even sole means through which we experience, understand, or engage with the larger, “outside” world during this global pandemic.