Introduction: A Touchable Heartbeat

About: I was born a po' black child... No, wait, that's not right.. A student of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Maryland Institute College of Art, normally employed as an Exhibits Specialist, I …

Title: Portrait of the Artist (done with all her heart...)
Size: 6.5" x 3" x 2"
Medium: Airbrushed machining foam, acrylic

I've been making a body of work for a while now, which involves creating sort of synthetic synesthetic objects and experiences. I've been taking information about different people which is normally interpreted through one sensory system, and transforming the way the information is presented in such a way that it becomes interpretable through a different sensory system.

The first iteration of this project was creating a "sound artifact", which is a beat of someone's heart, rendered in three dimensions.

How I made it:

I first built a stethophone from a Littmann stethoscope and a contact microphone which I could plug into a recording device. I used this to record the heartbeats of a number of individuals, and then uploaded these to sound editor on my computer.

In the program, I converted the display method of the recording from waveform to spectrogram, and then took a screen shot of that image. I imported that image into a CAD program, in which I was able to convert the image into a heightfield.

I imported the resulting CAD model into a CAM program, assigning it as a surface to a specified piece of material. The resulting tool path was then relayed to a CNC 3-axis mill, which milled that surface into a piece of machining foam. I hope to eventually mill one of these out of alabaster.

The object you see here was made from a recording of my own heartbeat.

I Made It Photo Contest

Participated in the
I Made It Photo Contest