Clea T. Waite: Nothing Broke but the Heart

  • ©,

  • ©,




    Nothing Broke but the Heart



    Monitor and transparencies: mixed media


    300cm x 400cm x 500cm


Artist Statement:

    Nothing Broke but the Heart is a physical poem, a concrete interpretation of the metaphoric language we use to verbalize love and emotions.

    Modern, cold, invasive… none-the-less, state-of-the-art electronic medical technologies; X-ray beams, huge electromagnets, computers, film, and video, have been used to create very literal invocations of metaphors that have existed since the age of the Troubadours.

    The installation contrasts the subjective expression of emotional injury with the objective analysis of physical injury. One can search for broken bones using X-rays. It is straightforward for a doctor to heal them. But, even with the most advanced medical imaging technology, the high-speed EPI scan, it is not possible to find the “break” in a heart. One cannot see the source of the pain.

    In these images, Waite’s heart, present in the set of scans when taken in their entirety, is seen fragmented, sliced, “in pieces”, physically “broken” apart – as it felt at the time these scans were made. The heart is combined and contrasted with X-rays of bones and a video loop of computer animated hearts, compulsively, hypnotically running through distorted icons of “love”, heart always “center screen”. A chaos of color and light, individual frames flash like memories. These hearts hearts of stone, burning hearts, wooden hearts, “mutated” hearts, hearts that are only words are punctuated throughout by medical images of the body’s real heart – breathing, pumping, catching in its rhythm.

    Viewers can enter the space – the body – examining the incredibly fine details of the bones, searching for the break in the fragments of the heart. Traversing the layers of veil-like images, the viewers reach the video, a mesmerizing light. The crossing of the room is like a striptease to the soul. Finally, they become entranced by strobing color and light, by the symbols of romance – perhaps by the illusions of love and image?

    This poem uses the hardness, the rationality of electronic technology and its processes the antithesis of emotion as the language with which to express emotion. It is a modern vocabulary for a poetry of our age.


    Kunsthochschule für Medien Koln; Koln, Germany
    Advanced NMR Systems; Massachusetts, USA
    MIT Media Laboratory, Spatial Imaging Group; Massachusetts, USA
    GMD, Visualization Group; St. Augustine, Germany