The Heart Library Project, 2007-2017
Interactive Art as Public Laboratory
The Heart Library Project is an interactive art exhibition designed for presentation in hospital and health care settings, schools, museums and art galleries. It combines interactive heart rate controlled audio-visuals with audience participation to create a unique environment where people can reflect, explore and share experiences connected to ideas of embodiment, body-mind and presence.
Emotionally-mediated changes in heart-rate are used to influence the colour and sound of large, ceiling mounted video projection: a mirror image of the participant resting below – created with a hidden video camera. Participants see their own body as if floating above them – like a reverse out-of-body experience. The projected imagery gets redder in colour as their heart rate gets faster, and goes blue when their rate is slowing down.
Body Maps: Facilitating narratives of embodiment
After their interaction with the video, participants are invited to contribute a response to the work in the form of a hand-drawn experience map and recorded interviews – these contributions constitute ‘The Heart Library’ – a celebration and reflection of the body as a living experience, imbued with feelings, motivations, history and imagination…
The Heart Library Project invites visitors to spend some time observing and reflecting on interactions between their heart, nervous system and mental/emotional focus via sounds and visuals that respond to subtle changes in heart rhythm.
2017: presented as The Mobile Mood Lab as part of The Big Anxiety festival of art, science and mental health (curated by Jill Bennett) , various locations around Sydney, Australia.
2016: Group Therapy: Mental Distress in the Digital Age, curated by Vanessa Bartlett, FACT, Liverpool, U.K.
2012: Wonderland group exhibition curated by Antoanetta Ivanova, Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Taipei, Taiwan.
2009: The Heart Library Project: St. Vincent’s Public Hospital, Sydney, Australia.
2008: Mirror States group exhibition curated by Lizzie Muller and Kathy Cleland, Campbelltown Art Centre, Australia, and Moving Image Centre, New Zealand.
2008: Enfoldings and Disclosures exhibition with Lisa Jones, UTS Gallery, Sydney, Australia.
2007: The Living Room Project creative development residency with Caitlin Newton-Broad, Sheila Ghelani (UK) and Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa (UK), Performance Space, Sydney, Australia.
George Poonkhin Khut: Artwork concept, interaction design and sound
David Morris-Oliveros: Data visualisation software, and technical support
Caitlin Newton-Broad: Original concept development and prototyping
Greg Turner: Max-MSP data analysis and fuzzy mapping tools
Jason McSweeney: Biofeedback data analysis and signal processing
This project has been assisted by Performance Space, UTS Gallery, St. Vincent’s Public Hospital, Darlinghurst, and by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
“At first it was abstract – and then it was personal.”
“What really interested me was that if I had a thought that was self-critical – then all the dots went red – then when I said ‘I accept myself' – it all went blue. I thought ‘how quick is that!’ …Just knowing that I’m capable of big things …and at the moment I’m dealing with a life-threatening illness – so that’s important for me – that I’m actually capable of stepping into another realm as well.”
- – Transcripts of interviews with exhibition visitors at St. Vincent’s Public Hospital, Darlinghurst