Each year, Savannah’s PULSE Art + Technology Festival draws thousands of people to the Telfair Museums Jepson Center. Locals and visitors get a glimpse into the future amid immersive installations that combine traditional art with modern technology. This year, the festival will go on, but will look a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning on Jan. 27, PULSE will take on a hybrid format with exhibitions at the Jepson Center, a virtual STEM Chat with Diana Eng and Natalie Zee Drieu, a virtual curator’s tour, and workshops for both children and adults. The main attraction at the Jepson Center will be the first U.S. solo exhibition of Caribbean artist David Gumbs, titled From Dust to Gold. Gumbs’ exhibition includes multiple interactive digital installations and drawings. His art, projected onto the Jepson Center’s walls, features moving explosions of color with incredibly detailed drawings of butterflies, tropical leaves, and more. “It’s really about the resilience of the Caribbean people, from having to deal with massive Category 5 hurricanes and devastation, to dust blowing from the Sahara, to the legacy of colonialism,” said Harry DeLorme, the Telfair senior curator of education and PULSE. The psychedelic exhibit is a lighthearted, fun experience that draws visitors in, then leaves them thinking and feeling connected to the world around them. DeLorme says themes of the natural world, spirituality, and current events are clear in Gumbs’ work. “I think there are qualities in his work that anyone can appreciate,” DeLorme said. All of Gumbs’ installations are hands-free, making his exhibit perfect for an event in a COVID-19 world. In the past, exhibits included features like cranks to turn and buttons to push. “The largest one we’ll have this year, Blossoms, will be sound-activated, so it’s an entirely hands-free experience,” DeLorme said. Also at the Jepson Center are installations by local artists. Remains to be Seen by Greg Finger allows visitors to be “seen” by a giant projection eyeball. Marionette by SCAD student Guanzhi Kou features a motion controller that detects hand gestures and lets visitors play with digital puppets. “There are folks right here in our own community who are doing really interesting and innovative work,” DeLorme said, adding that PULSE contributes to Savannah’s rich art scene by being a cheerleader for creators of all ages. “I think, and I hope, that we’ve encouraged a lot of artists here in our community to keep doing work of this kind,” DeLorme said. “I know we’ve had some students from [the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System] and some teachers who have been very involved. It’s been exciting to see students from past years come in with robots they’ve built and other tech projects that they’ve created.” DeLorme says one of the most popular attractions each year is the PULSE family day. To spread out the crowd of excited children and parents, organizers have created three-day free-admission weekends. They’ve also created “art kits” for children to replace all of the hands-on activities missing from this year’s event. Each kit includes materials and instructions for children to create their own masterpieces at home. At the end of the day, DeLorme says, PULSE is about having fun, learning something new, and energizing the creative sides of visitors. “Hopefully we’re having an effect and inspiring folks,” DeLorme said. “Whether you make art or not, I think inspiring people is one of the things we really hope to do.” The Telfair PULSE Art + Technology Festival kicks off on Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. with a virtual opening lecture from Gumbs. Visit telfair.org/pulse2021 for more information and to register for online events.