Meet ‘The Immortal,’
Vital fluids gurgle through a tangle of hoses connected to a machine.
A cell-saver device and a dialysis machine filter the liquid continuously while a heart-lung machine adds oxygen and keeps circulation in the closed system. A ventilator inflates a reservoir and an EKG monitors an odd-looking pulse. The infant incubator in the contraption’s foreground, however, is vacant.
“The Immortal” is a new project from Israeli designer Revital Cohen, who says she designed the closed-loop system of medical devices that operates without a patient as a way to provoke thoughts about “the compelling and discomforting nature of these objects, the products of our attempts to conquer biology with engineering.”
“The absence of the body only underlines that the machines filling the room are inherently biological,” she says in a statement on her website, revitalcohen.com, which features a video of the contraptions in action.
The blood in the machine is actually salt water, which has oxygen and various chemicals added and removed by the machines through the circuit, mimicking biological processes. Commentators have already noted the Frankenstein-like nature of “The Immortal,” but Outliers has to question the assumption that Cohen’s intent was to horrify.
Her statement discusses the “comforting yet disquieting soundscape” produced as the fluid pumps with a “meditative pulse,” and notes how the design of biomechanical machines speaks to how we understand life and our desire to conquer mortality.
But at what point is the machine operating for its own benefit instead of the human’s? Sounds to us like a question the healthcare community ought to think about.
Raging (and singing) against NATO
The summer concert season is quickly approaching, much to Outliers’ delight, and the country’s largest nurses union was busy last week promoting one of the first shows of the season.
National Nurses United brought a pal, suburban Chicago native Tom Morello, with them last week as union members made a stop for the NATO summit. Union Executive Director Roseann Demoro said the union helped pay for the transportation of about 900 nurses to Chicago to attend rallies and protests against corporate greed. The union wants a Wall Street tax that would collect money from investors making financial transactions.
Morello—best known as the lead guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, a band whose ’90s heyday was marked by socially conscious lyrics and a boisterous mix of metal and rap—told reporters on a conference call, “I love nothing more than to come into Chicago and play some electric guitar and blowing people’s minds.”
But Morello, 47, who now sings solo and sometimes plays acoustically, was quick to note that he would be playing “at a reasonable volume.” Securing a permit for him to perform didn’t go smoothly, as city officials said they were concerned about safety, in part because of the mosh pit-inducing nature of Rage Against the Machine’s music. Morello quickly explained that he grew up about an hour north of Chicago: “It’s my most favorite city, and I would never do anything to incite harm to my favorite city.”
The union targeted Chicago when it was announced the city would host the back-to-back NATO/G8 summits, Demoro said. Officials eventually moved the G8 sessions to Camp David in Maryland.
In search of moving experiences
Outliers has rarely felt a draw to the electronic arts. However, if the Sonys and Microsofts of the world developed video games that helped spur us to meet that burdensome “exercise three times a week” requirement, we may reconsider.
A survey released by Unitedhealth Group this month found that Outliers isn’t alone.
Almost 75% of respondents said video games should include a component that encourages physical activity, while 70% said physically active video games can be used to complement or supplement traditional exercise. Fifty-four percent of respondents reported that physically active video games would encourage them to be more active.
“Even as we continue to study the clinical impact of video games on health, this survey shows that there is a real interest among consumers in games that promote at least some physical activity,” Dr. Richard Migliori, Unitedhealth Group’s executive vice president of health services, said in a news release.
It’s enough to inspire Outliers to do a little happy (and cardio healthy) dance.
“The Immortal” aims to provoke thoughts on medical technology.