The Responding Body – The Heart of the Action


The drawing test also helped me to figure out the heart as the organ with the strongest individual AND cultural connection, as a centre of empathy, which I could use as the main object in my final visualisation.

To find out a bit more about the features of our heart, let’s approach it with another experiment:
There are various kinds of meditation and concentration experiments. Maybe you came across one in the kindergarten or the sport classes: You close your eyes and travel through your own body, try to “purely” feel and concentrate on different parts of your body or different processes, like breathing and your heart beat.
More favoured by children are, of course, that kind of stories that implement phantasy worlds, when your spirit travels through positive, imagined environments. It reminds of a lot of fantastic and atmospheric depictions we looked at in the last chapter. It is the enchanting aspect I will also use in my later depictions.
On the other side, the own body and its rhythms is the frame work of this experiments that let you get aware of your physical body. And one of the methods that ensure a relaxed drifting through peaceful worlds, is the reduction and control of the heartbeat. Also in natural science, the heartbeat perception is frequently seen as a method to test interoceptive awareness.[1]

When I let people draw, especially the children even started with the heart. And one participant, who only drew the heart answered to the question “Why he drew it”: “Because it is there”.

That brought me to the resonance effect: When you do something extraordinary – running, stress, feeling in love – your heart beats more intensive. So, in the “most important”, the extraordinary, moments it seems to behave like “Yes, I am your boss! What is happening here?! I will take over command now!” This may be the reason, why it gained so many characteristics over the time, like “the nervous heart”, “the loving heart”, “the heart of stone” and so on. And this figurative language can be easily translated into images.
In the “worst cases” the heart even shows up in the form of blood, which is also a form of resonance. And today the blood is even more connected with the heart, now that it is its proofed pump.
Also stomach and lungs give feedback. Therefore, one could argue that there is a strong connection to those organs as well. Especially you serve them directly, with food and oxygen. But this relation is quite material based (PIC6) (Also see “the stomach as plebs or busy market” in the heritage chapter).
Moreover, the human is more in love with his thoughts. But he doesn’t like to think of his brain and a lot of body chemicals to “do” his thoughts, so most of the time in every-day life there is no such organ as the “brain”. But there is the heart that is connected to so many emotional pictures.

And on the other hand is a scientific system one can easily understand nowadays (See blue and red veins and arteries in PIC7). The hearts’ extents, the veins and arteries, and like this the whole blood cycle, is the widest spread body system. You can also easily deduce it to draw it without knowing it completely, because it has a natural structure. Especially the lungs are often resembled in tree-shapes (PICS 1,3,5,7).
With the heart’s liquid, the blood, we encounter the most striking colour of the body, a visual focus. Before people start to colour any part of the interior in its actual main colour pink, the veins will be emphasized with red (and blue). Therewith it also becomes the most “remarkable”, when it leaves the body. So, in contrast to all the other main fluids, it only belongs to the INNER body that I thematise. And also the heart is thickly coloured in almost every picture (1,2,3,5,7,9).

In the first chapter’s research the heart already attract attention, as the “sacred heart” in Christianity, because of the frequent division of the body into two or three where the heart almost always played a role, in the people’s centre thinking and visualisation, and as the strongest cultural connection, especially in religion. There you can find various depictions of rituals, like in the Egyptian Judgement, the Aztec Sacrifice, the Hindu heart chakra and another Christian ritual, the Eucharist with its as Christ’s soul embodied wine. And like the historian/anatomist Fay Bound Alberti confirms in her book “Matters of the Heart: History, Medicine, and Emotion.”: Before the heart pump was described in 1628, in science the body was cardio-centric.[2]

Therefore, I concluded that this will be the most favored organ, to show the viewer that the body is a cultural construct with a rich heritage. The heritage chapter provides a lot of visual material about the heart and its social empathetic character that contributes to a strong mind-body relationship. Thus, an expressive mind-body-development can be illustrated with its help!
Also, the head will remain a main centre of our felt consciousness. But we can easily connect the head with a more complete/comprehensive body house with immersive media – like 360°-visualisations – that connect the heads movement with a certain body visualisation.
But where will this experience take place and how exactly? The next chapter will implement the heart-house into a VR-space.


[1] “There is a long tradition arguing that perception of bodily activity can shape emotion and cognition” In Dunn, Barnaby D. et al., Heartbeat perception in depression. Behaviour Research and Therapy Document, 2006, 1

[2] Fay Bound Alberti, Matters of the Heart, 39