New developments in science and bio‑medical technologies challenge our sense of being and our models for understanding the world. Long held views about human nature and definitions of life and of nature are being re‑examined in what has been called the biotech century. What occurs in individuals when new medical and biomedical technologies threaten to radically disrupt this accepted relation? The loss of a clear sense of boundaries, whether it is the proprioceptive boundary of our own bodies and other bodies, or the boundaries between territories leads to some interesting reflections. In 2007 I was given access to a unique interdisciplinary research study into the emotional and psychological effects of heart transplantation for the purpose of creating art works that could be publically disseminated to explore diverse aspects of this complex phenomenon. This interdisciplinary study was produced by a research team based at Toronto General Hospital and the University of Toronto Health Network. Since the 1960’s cardiac transplantation has been an accepted medical therapy for patients with end stage heart failure. With organ transplantation, pressing new questions have been introduced as to what it means to be a human being, and what constitutes individual and community identity. Little research has been made into the emotional or psychological states of the recipient post surgery. In this paper I will use the transplanted heart as a trope to explores issues of reciprocity, embodiment, kinship and foreigness (the transplanted heart is considered ‘foreign’). I will outline the research study and show some of the media works produced in this project. The use of the visual and media arts as knowledge translation strategies provides an exciting model for transdisciplinary exchange across the fields of medicine, philosophy, and art.
- Ingrid Bachmann, Concordia University, CA