Audio Heart


Regardless of whether or not one lives in a country with socialized or privatized medicine, when we think of staying in a hospital we are often overwhelmed by a feeling of loneliness and the chill of our own mortality. In such an isolated environment, sound is often a comforting reminder of the chaos of life. English sound artist John Wynne has been an artist-in-residence at Harefield Hospital in Middlesex, England, one of the world's leading facilities for heart and lung transplantation, exploring the soundscape and interviewing patients and caregivers on their relationship with sound in the space. Working with photographer Tim Wainwright, the two artists have kept an audio-visual blog of the residency, The Transplant Log, a tender and engaging collection of interviews and experiences. When asked about the sounds of the hospital in an audio interview, Senior Nurse Sherrie Panther equates hearing silence with death, inadvertently echoing activists ACT UP, and notes how patients leave televisions on at all hours to keep from feeling alone. This is just one of the illuminating audio documents on the site. FLOW, 'a site-specific surround sound 7-screen video installation' about their experience at Harefield is open until December 15th at London's Old Operating Theatre Museum in conjunction with the exhibit Operations of Sound. The two artists are also working on a 24-channel photographic sound installation, which will premiere in 2008. -- David Michael Perez