In the vision of a sci-fi relic of the future, “The Heart of Evolution?” by Amy Karle amykarle.com explores the heart as both a vital organ and as the organ associated with deep emotional feeling at a time where biotechnology and humanity merges. The work questions how bio-medical interventions override natural selection and can alter the course of evolution.
Contemplating human modification at the dawn of the biotech era, and how future organs and the augmented body could be created and function in the future, this sculpture takes shape of what heart vasculature could look and work like with enhanced design, housed in the mechanical womb of a scientific bioreactor.
Leveraging computer-aided generative engineering and generative design, the structure reimagines functionality and proposes a new design for the vascular system of the heart that could potentially improve function and have less dire consequences in the case of blockages. Although this could be of great medical benefit, re-designing the body would undoubtedly alter humanity. This work questions how humanity would be altered physically and emotionally if such design modifications were to be made and such technologies are used to heal and enhance the body… and if tampering with nature and evolution in this way is wise.
The artist chose a heart shape because it is a major organ often considered to be the emotional seat of consciousness in order to heighten the viewer’s awareness of synthetic biology's potential implications on humanity and evolution - both positive (for healing and enhancing) and negative (irreversibly altering humanity and the natural world). Referencing both scientific presentation and the veneration and presentation of sacred corporeal relics, this sculpture demonstrates both the importance of the study and research on this topic and the profound importance of a deep reverence to the mystery and intelligence of life when contemplating the use of such technologies that may permanently alter humanity and change the course of our evolution.
The work questions life, death, life extension, enhancement, and transformation at a time of humans and technology merging. The work points to the importance of considering and collaboration with living systems; and serves to open minds to visions of how design, generative engineering, 3D printing and bioprinting can heal and enhance humanity. The work also questions who we could become as a result of our exponential and biotechnologies, and encourages us to carefully contemplate the consequences for our future.
The “Heart of Evolution” is being shown for the first time at The Mori Art Museum, Tokyo Japan 2019-2020. Thank you to The Mori Art Museum and to HP Labs for their generous support to make this project possible.