Hybrid Bodies: An Artistic Investigation into the Experience of Heart Transplantation

It is commonly accepted that new developments in science and technology impact on almost every register of human experience and interaction. The research project, Hybrid Bodies: An Artistic Investigation into the Experience of Heart Transplantation recognizes the significant role that artists can play in this process.

Four internationally exhibiting artists, Alexa Wright (UK), Catherine Richards (Canada), Andrew Carnie (UK), and Ingrid Bachmann (Canada), have access to an interdisciplinary research study into the emotional and psychological effects of heart transplantation. This interdisciplinary study was produced by a research team based at Toronto General Hospital and the University of Toronto Health Network, The team includes a cardiologist, philosopher, nurse, psychiatrist, and sociologist.

Organ transplantation signifies a shift in the way the body is viewed, raising questions around bodily boundaries, identity, and even the legal definitions of life and death. It is important that the social and ethical questions that accompany these medical and technological advances are addressed.

Involving artists as active researchers rather than simply interpreters of scientific data, this project represents a new strategic approach to research creation and knowledge transfer strategies across the arts and sciences. All the artist co-applicants have many years of experience working collaboratively with scientists and of working across the disciplines of art and science. Over a three-year period the artists will conduct their own research into the ethical, social, and cultural issues that arise around heart transplantation. We will create artworks that introduce these issues into the public domain and open them up for debate and discussion through exhibitions, conference papers, seminars and a publication.

The heart is both a vital organ and a potent symbol. As well as contributing to the broader scientific project of understanding the social and psychological effects of heart transplantation, we will explore the mythologies surrounding the human heart. The artworks resulting from this research will bring the scientific and philosophical issues into the public domain for discussion and to enhance understanding. Potential audiences for the outcomes of our research include health care professionals, patients and families as well as the arts community and the general public.

Ingrid Bachmann Concordia University

See more about the project at www.hybridbodiesproject.com

Image: Drawing towards A Change of Heart Video work. Image courtesey of Andrew Carnie