The Now and After works by Alison Hiltner - In creative conjunction with Nobel Conference 56 September 16th - October 23rd 2020 > Tethers

Signals create life from chaos. Life implies connection. Connection is vital. When cells detach from their environment, they lose connections and die. This concept is universal, and the focus is on the immediacy of our sense of touch to dissuade loneliness. Tethers is about focusing on this connection, about the signals we send into the world that weave us into the greater matrix of existence. How does it feel to hold a heart, our own or someone else’s? With Tethers I have created a physical interface where someone can feel the pulsation of the heart in their hands.

The reason the work is centered around the heartbeat is two fold both coming from my experiences as an artist in residence at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, first learning that cells can essentially die of loneliness and then when I held a pig heart in my bare hands. Leading me to the realization of how separated we are from our bodies, and the vastness of what we simply take for granted. The beating of our heart is a muted physical sensation for us, at most background noise that can comfort or concern. But in reality it is a powerful universal connection, a sign of life that is always felt and can be shared.

A special thanks to Dr. Paul Iaizzo of the Visible Heart Laboratory at the University of Minnesota's Medical School for donating some of the material that made Tethers possible. And Maxwell Hoaglund who was the programmer for the heartbeat interface.

Silicone, latex, various mechanical components, sensors, pumps, rubber tubing, stainless steel, and biomedical equipment