While many artworks might require you sell an organ to afford them, at least with this one you could survive: The Immortal is an installation made up of life-support machines, designed to makes us contemplate our dependence on medical technology.
Put together by Revital Cohen, The Immortal features a Heart-Lung Machine, Dialysis Machine, an Infant Incubator, a Mechanical Ventilator and an Intraoperative Cell Salvage Machine. They’re strung together, circulating air and salted water in place of blood. Along the way minerals are added and filtered out again, the liquid is oxygenated — and an ECG device even monitors the system’s vital signs. As Cohen explains on his website:
“A number of life-support machines are connected to each other, circulating liquids and air in attempt to mimic a biological structure. The Immortal investigates human dependence on electronics, the desire to make machines replicate organisms and our perception of anatomy as reflected by biomedical engineering.”
Indeed, it’s strange to see a room of clunky machines all attempting to carry out the functions our organs are capable of performing so efficiently without a patient present. Perhaps most shocking is the sheer size of the devices: an entire room is needed to house the mechanised equivalent of what can fit inside our chest cavities.