Silver Heart (2004)


Silver plate on copper over rapid prototyped polymer, 9″ x 8″ x 6″. Edition of 3. Image courtesy Wellcome Trust.

Silver Heart (2004) was made as part of collaboration with cardio-thoracic surgeon Francis Wells at Papworth Hospital that investigated some of the social, technological and psychological aspects of transplant surgery. This part of the project started with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of the heart, typically used by the surgeon to aid diagnosis and the planning of surgery.

The raw MRI data was translated into a digital three-dimensional model. From this, real objects were produced using rapid prototyping technology, which is not normally used to reverse engineer existing objects. The transference of data from one field to another and the act of reconstruction echoes the process of organ transplant. Reproduced at two different scales the polymer objects were gold-leafed or silver-plated.

The structure and detail of the heart can be seen fully, as it would be in situ in the human body. Silver Heart twists the idea of transplant, turning a vital human organ into a precious art object.