Mixed Media, 26 in H x 18.5 in W x 24.5 in D

“We all have experiences that are written on our hearts. Those physical and emotional inscriptions accumulate to shape our health, well-being, actions, and the way we move through this world. The heart is both a vital organ and the said seat of emotional consciousness. My intention is to create a living piece that explores and depicts the physical, emotional and even spiritual aspect of the human heart.”  – Amy Karle

In the vision of a sci-fi relic of the future, The Heart of Evolution? by Amy Karle explores the heart as both a vital organ and as the organ associated with deep emotional feeling at a time where biotechnology and humanity merges. The work questions how bio-medical interventions override natural selection and can alter the course of evolution.

Contemplating human modification at the dawn of the biotech era, and how future organs and the augmented body could be created and function in the future, this “beating” sculpture takes shape of what heart vasculature could look and work like with enhanced design, housed in the mechanical womb of a scientific bioreactor.

Leveraging computer-aided generative engineering and generative design, the structure reimagines functionality and proposes a new design for the vascular system of the heart that could potentially improve function and have less dire consequences in the case of blockages. Although this could be of great medical benefit, re-designing the body would undoubtedly alter humanity. This work questions how humanity would be altered physically and emotionally if such design modifications were to be made and such technologies are used to heal and enhance the body… and if tampering with nature and evolution in this way is wise.

The artist chose a heart shape because it is a major organ often considered to be the emotional seat of consciousness in order to heighten the viewer’s awareness of synthetic biology’s potential implications on humanity and evolution – both positive (for healing and enhancing) and negative (irreversibly altering humanity and the natural world). Referencing both scientific presentation and the veneration and presentation of sacred corporeal relics, this sculpture demonstrates both the importance of the study and research on this topic and the profound importance of a deep reverence to the mystery and intelligence of life when contemplating the use of such technologies that may permanently alter humanity and change the course of our evolution.

The work questions life, death, life extension, enhancement, and transformation at a time of humans and technology merging. The work points to the importance of considering and collaboration with living systems; and serves to open minds to visions of how design, generative engineering, 3D printing and bioprinting can heal and enhance humanity. The work also questions who we could become as a result of our exponential and biotechnologies, and encourages us to carefully contemplate the consequences for our future.

The Heart of Evolution? is an electromechanical / biomechanical sculpture and does not contain living material.
The arist is working towards bioprinting future iterations with live, beating heart cells.



 Hear Artist Amy Karle speak about this work:

Amy Karle presenting at Innovative City Forum [ICF 2019] Lifestyle and Augmented Body – Future and the Arts Session. Tokyo, Japan 2019.
Amy Karle’s talk begins at 1:21:28, she discusses “The Heart of Evolution?” and related works ~1:27:08.

Thank you to The Mori Art Museum and to HP Labs for their generous support to make this project possible.