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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 December 2005, 01:36 GMT
Mapping the body through sound
By Jane Elliott
BBC News health reporter

The brain
The brain, liver and kidney are silent organs
Ever wondered what sounds your heart makes?

Each part of the body has its own special sounds as it works deep within us.

Now an artist and a doctor are hoping to make a new map of "The Sonic Body", by revealing its sounds, from veins to organs and muscles.

The noises they record, using sensitive medical equipment such as scanners and the trusted stethoscope, will then be made into an interactive art installation triggered by visitors walking through a model of a body.

Body

Curator Rowan Dury said the project, which should be completed by next autumn, would provide a new way of perceiving the human body.

"We will be using high-tech medical facilities and the aim will be to find interesting sounds. There could be very rhythmic sounds going on within all of us that we are unaware of.

Marcus Woxneryd will use sound to show the inner workings of the body
We hope to make it medically informative as well as exciting
Marcus Woxneryd

"We will then take these, they will be sampled and an audio sound will be created."

Ms Dury said there would also be text explanations about the parts of the body being sampled, creating a greater awareness of the organs or body parts involved.

Artist Marcus Woxneryd said he hoped the project would reveal a number of unusual sounds, many of which are currently only audible to medics as they carry out examinations.

"We will be sampling the sounds using things available to us like stethoscopes and ultrasounds, and we will try to use them to record sounds such as blood flowing and then bring those sounds out into a public place.

His piece using samples from Liverpool Street Station
Marcus sampled sound at Liverpool Street Station

"People will need to walk around the installation it to trigger the sounds. As they interact, the movement will change the sounds and they will get an orchestral symphony of the sounds of the body.

"It will definitely give them a different experience of the body and hopefully they will relate to the body in a new way.

"We are not sure how factual it will be, but we hope to make it medically informative as well as exciting."

Mr Woxneryd has previously created a similar installation 'Terminal' using sampled and archival sound from Liverpool Street Station.

He said he was very excited about the opportunity of working so closely with the human body.

Engaging

Dr Francis Wells, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, at Papworth Hospital, who will be working with Marcus, agreed: "It is a really fascinating idea trying to turn it into a piece of engaging art work and of using the sounds.

"How we will deal with the silent brain is an interesting phenomenon.

Dr Francis Wells has always been interested in the arts
How we will deal with the silent brain is an interesting phenomenon
Dr Francis Wells

"We intend to use pretty much all of the body, even the muscle creaks, and we are looking to see what we can then do with them."

He said patients would be asked if they wanted to take part and added that the sounds could be taken as part of their routine investigations. Most of the sounds will be recorded from outside the body.

Dr Wells said he had always been very interested in the link between arts and medicine and recently pioneered a new way to repair damaged hearts after being inspired by artist Leonardo da Vinci's medical drawings.

Verity Slater, from the Wellcome Trust, which has just given the project a 15,000 grant as part of their Sciart awards, given to support and encourage a collaboration between art and the sciences, said: "This project really brought the idea of exploring the body to life."


SEE ALSO:
'My neck scan inspired my art'
10 Jun 05 |  Health


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