Last Breaths 2022

A collaboration with Paul Brown & Carmine Gentile, Cardiovascular Regeneration Group

Artist George Schwarz's last breaths were recorded, transmuted and translated into 3D form. From this we bioprinted a tiny sculpture of live, beating cardiac cells – new life forming from the shape of cardiac failure.

Exhibited in Possibles ISEA 2022, Barcelona

In 2021 Linda Dement and Paul Brown were awarded an ANAT Synapse Residency and Create NSW grant to collaborate with Dr. Carmine Gentile and his Cardiovascular Regeneration Group, School of Bioengineering, University of Technology Sydney.

Cardiovascular disease, including myocardial infarction and heart failure, is the leading cause of death worldwide. Dr Gentile’s multidisciplinary team has created a novel way to 3D bioprint heart tissues using patients’ own cells to repair heart damage and regain cardiac muscle function. Cells isolated from skin or blood are used to generate stem cells and then transformed into heart cells. Using state-of-the-art facilities, Dr Gentile has developed a new way to form ‘cardiac spheroids’–clusters of cardiac cells–which contract or beat synchronously to produce patches for damaged hearts.

May 2021 artist George Schwarz died from cardiac failure and Linda recorded his last breaths. Audio values were retrieved to generate sequential images of 2D geometry. We imported these images into 3D Slicer (software normally used to create 3D models from MRI or CT scans) as if we had run an MRI scan on sound rather than a body.

We printed models first in hydrogel to discover shape, consistency, size, and then with live cardiac spheroids, on a LumenX bioprinter which uses crossbeams of light to harden light sensitive gel, printing upwards in 100 micron layers, substance emerging from liquid under violet light.

Through this project, human cardiac failure, expelled as breath and recorded as sound, is transfigured to 3D form as terra-firma for growth of human yet inhuman life. This artwork responds to the research of the Cardiovascular Regeneration Group. Their work traverses terrains of life and death, bodies and technologies, human and inhuman, the strained edges of wounded hearts and the stretching extremities of bio-technical possibility.