Les Archives du Coeur
Setouchi, Okayama Prefecture, Japan
Listening to the World's Heartbeats in Rural JapanLes Archives du Coeur is a collection of recorded heartbeats housed in a small building on Teshima island in Japan’s Inland Sea. I got there by a 10 minute walk, through woods, past crumbling old houses, faded shop signs, moored fishing boats, and past a couple of shrines, from Karato Port. The small building in its remote location is constructed from a dark wood that blends into its surroundings. Seeing the mysterious house, I felt lost as in a fairy tale.
The artist Christian Boltanski says that his archive of heartbeats is proof of the lives of the participants. When you visit the archive you first see a monitor displaying the name of the owner of the heartbeat that you hear coming from behind the next door, as well as the date and the place where it was recorded. When you open the door into the main room you step into a heartbeat so loud that the walls seem to vibrate — or maybe that’s the effect of the bulb that flashes on and off in pace with the heartbeat.
Alone in the room I stood and listened to Sophia's heartbeat, recorded in Paris in 2010; others from Helsinki, London, Berlin, and Stockholm.
You can search for people on the heartbeat database by typing in their name or a place or date.I had the option to record mine and add it to the database for someone to hear in the little room in the little building on this faraway island. I decided not to. Content to feel lost and a stranger far, far away.
Photo: Karen Gardiner