Cardiomorphologies, the body as an instrument

cardiomorphologies, George Khut

George Khut is an artist working in the area of immersive and interactive installation environments. His research focuses on the development of interactive sound and video environments where users experience and learn to influencial aspects of their own psycho-physiological processes by reckoning changes in the sound, colour and form of the artwork. His latest project, Cardiomorphologies (now version 3.0) is an interactive installation that uses technologies and principles of heart rate variability and biofeedback training for this purpose. The biofeedback training, in fact, enables people to obtain voluntary control over various physiological processes providing an instantaneous electronic display of body functions. In this case breath and heart data, collected by a pressure sensitive strap placed around user’s upper rib and by two sensors held in his hands, are used to control a large video projection. The video consists of a halo-like concentric circles that pulsate and change colour according to heart and breath rhythm. Heartbeats and breathing are also transformed into sounds emitted by speakers so that the user, sat in a comfortable chair, can watch his own ‘bodysong’. According to Khut, Cardiomorphologies uses biofeedback design principals to help participants differentiate contrasting forms of psychophysiological orientation: ways of being present and relating to our own experience of the world and ourselves through mind-body organisation. Refusing the traditional western preconception of an observing self and observed body/other, the installation might be experienced in two different ways by the users. The first is passive one: the participant is nothing more than a spectator amazed by his body show, enchanted by the translation of his vital functions in sounds and colours and surprised by the performance. The second, instead, is a pro-active one: like a musician the user can play his body as an instrument, hyperventilating or deep breathing, getting excited or relaxed. In both the cases the result is a hypnotic cyborg interaction experience.

Valentina Culatti