Sarah Harvey to give talk on heartbeat sound art as part of Brighton Digital Festival

By Mark Sheerin | 23 August 2012
A diagrammatic black on white ECG readout
© Sarah Harvey
Event Preview: Sarah Harvey - Opus Pericardium, part of Brighton Digital Festival, Nightingale Theatre, Brighton, September 12 2012

Whereas digital festivals tend to be celebratory affairs, Sarah Harvey’s contribution to this year's one iin Brighton is not for the squeamish.

No matter how wired our lives become, this artist seems set on reminding us that each of us are housed in flesh and blood.

Opus Pericardium has just finished a run at the a gallery dedicated to sound art, SoundFjord in North London.

Keen listeners, or those with a grasp of medical Latin, should be able to identify the sound of an arrhythmic beating human heart.

Two composers (Tim Yates and Simon C Russell) and two scientists (Peter MacFarlane and Richard Whale) have helped Harvey realise her project.

The resulting soundscape draws on ECG readings from Glasgow University’s Academic Database and Massahcusetts Institute of Technology.

This doubling up of collaborators was perhaps reflected in the finished work. By skipping the occasional beat, the heartbeat in question left no doubt it belongs to another mortal. So stepping inside the installation, visitors could inhabit someone else’s body, albeit briefly.

So this may be digital art, or even as sometime nurse Harvey describes it Sci-sound art, but the focus brings us back to human frailty – and that may never change.

Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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