Meet ‘The Im­mor­tal,’

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS -

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.

RE­VI­TAL CO­HEN

“The Im­mor­tal” aims to pro­voke thoughts on med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy.

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