Lisa Roet on Hybrid Hearts and The Science of Art

Scientists have long been fascinated with the relationship between apes and humans. For artist Lisa Roet an interest in researching this relationship has been the focus of her artwork for nearly 30 years. “My work often looks at popular culture, scientific research, evolutionary theories, or religious theories,” Roet says. “It’s a way of reflecting on humanity.”

Roet grew up in the 1970s, a time when there was a lot of research into the chimpanzee and human relationship, where scientists like Jane Goodall were doing a lot of emotional research into apes and animals. Roet wanted to study primatology or zoology or a similar science but didn’t do very well at physics so decided to approach it from an art perspective. “Much of my work is documentary/ scientifically based,” she says. “I work with a lot of scientists, researchers and environmentalists. Lots of di fferent people to get the information to back up the works.” In her latest project, Heart Beat, Roet has created an image of a very large heart, using a technique called Musion in collaboration with the tech team Haycom. This technique is a modern day version of Pepper’s Ghost e ffect, which uses a very tightly taut re flective material to create a projected image in real life in space – it’s not on a screen it is just projected into space. The heart is made from footage of Roet’s own heart when she underwent an MRI and footage of a gorilla’s heart taken by a science team at Cardi ff University who are carrying out primate heart research. Roet then worked with Drew Berry from the Walter and Eliza Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne to animate her heart and the gorilla’s heart into one. “The work is this hybrid human/gorilla heart pumping in real life,” Roet says. “It’s really about the body and soul. It’s about the primal side of mankind and the humanness in the ape.” Alongside the beating heart is a video work called We are All Animal which is part of an ongoing project Roet is working on with Chinese artist Shen Shaomin. While the beating heart is the hero of the exhibition the video work creates more depth. Roet says: “It’s a strangely confronting video which will attract people as they walk into the entrance.” Lisa Roet, Heart Beat Australian Experimental Art Foundation Until Saturday, April 2 lisaroet.com

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