When you hear the term "artificial heart," what is the image that comes to your mind?
At present, artificial hearts are not "machines that are shaped like a heart," as they have varying forms and functions depending on the usages and symptoms. The technology for making artificial hearts is advancing by the day, and it was reported in the news that a research team in Israel announced through a scientific journal on April 15th, 2019 that they
were able to produce an artificial heart with a 3D printer using human cells.
On the other hand, regenerative medicine and advanced medical technologies are constantly accompanied by ethical issues. As medicine advances, we are likely to encounter more and more opportunities to face "real problems" moving forward.
This installation makes the viewer explore their own thoughts on what the "heart," "spirit," and "body" mean to them.
The objective is to present an opportunity for the viewer to think about their own answers and society's answers in preparation of the "reality" that awaits.
If people are able to choose a heart freely, what kind of heart would they choose?
Although each person has different taste, many people are likely to choose a heart that looks good to them. As it is said that the "spirit" resides in the heart, selecting a heart also involves internal aspects, such as having a "beautiful spirit," in addition to functionality.
"Flowers" were chosen for the heart in this installation as a representation of things that are beautiful. In addition, since the heart must continue to function in order to live, flowers that do not wilt, or "artificial flowers," are used. The heart is placed inside a wooden jewelry box, which serves as a symbol for storing something that is beautiful and valuable, and illuminated by a spotlight on stage.
In this installation, the force that moves the artificial heart is "sound." The "thump, thump" sound that the heart produces is an important element that makes us think of the heart. In contrast to the heart in a living body, an artificial heart does not necessarily need to expand and contract, but our strong impression of the sound of the heartbeat makes us recall an image of expansion and contraction.
"Thump, thump" beats the heart. As time passes, the sound of the heartbeat leaves the artificial heart at the center of the stage and moves to the sides. The viewer senses that the sound of the heartbeat is gradually leaving the artificial heart. The sound of the heartbeat continues to move further, and by the time that the sound of the heartbeat is coming from behind the viewer, the viewer realizes that the "sound of the heartbeat" and the "artificial heart" are completely separate. However, the artificial heart does not need the sound of a heartbeat to begin with.
Eventually, the sound of the heartbeat begins to sound out as if enveloping the entire venue. This could mean that this is the sound of the heartbeat that can be heard from inside the mother's body, the venue itself is the heart and the artificial heart device ahead is only a part of it, or that the viewer theirself is part of the heart.
The sound of the heartbeat eventually stops. When the viewer looks at what used to be an artificial heart in silence, they will likely think deeply about what the heart means to them.
Sound of the Heartbeat
Boltanski uses the heart in his works as a symbol of life, and it is stated that the sound of the heartbeat can be used to identify individuals when it is converted to data. In addition, the sound of the heartbeat is used far more frequently in various scenes of many films and TV programs than in artwork, as it makes the viewer strongly recall life and human emotions.
However, we do not listen to the sound of our own heartbeat without using some sort of tool. We know that the sound of the heartbeat is equivalent to the heart because of information from society. In addition, the sound of the heartbeat is not necessary for an artificial heart to function. Rather, early artificial hearts carried the issue of their sounds being distracting.
Even so, the ideal heart in your opinion could be a heart that makes sound.
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