Views & Reviews Review of the Week

And the beats go on

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 28 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4036
  1. Colin Martin, independent consultant in healthcare communication, London
  1. cmpubrel{at}

    Colin Martin describes a project that has recorded the heartbeats of thousands of exhibition goers and stores them in perpetuity on an island in the Sea of Japan

    “In every culture the heart is the most important thing and really represents the individual,” said the French artist Christian Boltanski in a recent Agence France Presse interview about his international project Les Archives du Coeur (The Heart Archive), which is currently continuing at the Serpentine Gallery, London.

    In 2005 the artist created an installation entitled Le Coeur, in Paris, consisting of a normal light bulb that flickered at a rate corresponding to his own recorded heartbeat. Alternating between light and darkness, the work evokes life and death. A private commission in 2008 has enabled Boltanski to record the heartbeats of around 35 000 individuals, at locations where he is exhibiting his work. They are labelled and stored in perpetuity in an archive …

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