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The Immortal

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A number of life-support machines are connected to each other, circulating liquids and air in attempt to mimic a biological structure.

The Immortal investigates human dependence on electronics, the desire to make machines replicate organisms and our perception of anatomy as reflected by biomedical engineering.

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A web of tubes and electric cords is interwoven in closed circuits through a Heart-Lung Machine, Dialysis Machine, an Infant Incubator, a Mechanical Ventilator and an Intraoperative Cell Salvage Machine.

The organ replacement machines operate in orchestrated loops, keeping each other alive through circulation of electrical impulses, oxygen and artificial blood.

Salted water acts as blood replacement: throughout the artificial circulatory system minerals are added and filtered out again, the blood gets oxygenated via contact with the oxygen cycle, an ECG device monitors the system’s heartbeat.
As the fluid pumps around the room in a meditative pulse, the sound of mechanical breath and slow humming of motors resonates in the body through a comforting yet disquieting soundscape.

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The interpretation of anatomy with a mechanical vocabulary reflects strongly on the Western perception of the body.
Defining the body as a machine – where dysfunctional parts can be replaced by mechanics – speaks of how we understand life.

These objects encompass social debates about the ethics of euthanasia, the quantification of both the value and quality of life, making physical a poetic desire to conquer our own mortality.
The medical machine – whether in use or not – is an object which transcends its materiality. Designed and created to perform a single, most meaningful function, we never subject these devices to a critical investigation as industrial products within the context of material culture.

This work aims to explore the nature of these devices as objects of our times, liberated from their restrained purpose while still charged with its resonance.

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By exploring the medical instruments while detached from the human body and functioning as an independent being, each electronic body part accentuate the distance between the organic and the artificial.

Through the visibility of motors, electronic circuits, fluid pumps, audio-visual signals and particularly the scale and electric exhaustion of the work, we are confronted with the stark contrasts that lie in the primitive functions of precision hardware.

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The Immortal is occupied with the compelling and discomforting nature of these objects,  the products of our attempts to conquer biology with engineering.
The absence of the body only underlines that the machines filling the room are inherently biological.

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