What About the Heart?


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In a Japanese laboratory, Professor Ishiguro investigates whether the human presence can be transmitted into inanimate objects, namely, robots. After seeing his robots on TV, British photographer Luisa Whitton (1991) became fascinated with them, and travelled to Japan to learn more about Ishiguro’s research. The images she created of his robots are fuelled by existential questions of our humanity, illustrating a grey area where the boundary between portraits and still lifes is very uncertain. The book is illustrated with some of Ishiguro’s notes and thoughts, and although he’s actually not to be seen (aside from a robot made in his likeness), the professor’s presence is palpable throughout the book. Whitton’s artistic interpretation of Ishiguro’s scientific practice asks the viewer to confront the meaning and consequences of such experiments. When Ishiguro asserts that the definition of a human will become more complicated as we replace our biological parts with machinery, she asks him, “What about the heart?” He answers: “The heart is the easiest part. Artificial hearts are very popular right now. The liver is more difficult.”

What About the Heart? has been published in a first edition of 25 copies. Each book is signed, numbered and comes with a postcard print.


What About the Heart? was featured in GUP#50, the Hidden Gems issue. To learn more about Whitton's series, read our interview with her.