Contrary to popular belief, urine is not waste but a biofluid rich in information, providing valuable insights into the metabolic state of an organism. Utilising the archival properties of urine in a visual diary, Aqua Vita maps our body's ever evolving ecosystem, proposing a new understanding of health as a dynamic, resilient system. From blue to green, red to black, medieval physicians would observe more than 20 sheds of their patient's urine, as well as examining their texture, smell and taste. What does your urine say about your health?
Aqua Vita is a project developed for the Desginers & Artists with Mike Thompson in collaboration with the Netherlands Metabolomics Centre, with the support of the Sino-Dutch Centre for Preventive and Personalized Medicine.
Programming by: Dave Young
Electronics by: David Menting
Photography by: Lauren Hillebrandt
For further information please visit:
THE AQUA VITA PROJECT
Netherlands Metabolomics Center (NMC)
Urine Vials & Urine Colour Wheel
We seldom notice its true value as we flush it down the toilet. In Medieval times, urine was employed in disease diagnosis. From blue to green, red to black, physicians would observe its colour, examine its texture and smell, even tasting it up to three times. This scrutiny of urine was later recorded in paintings such as De Dokter by Gerard Dou (1650 - 1669). Urine Vials facilitates the collection and inspection of urine, a ‘mirror’ of our body’s health state.
Mass Spectrometry is an analytical technique used to determine the mass of particles, such as the metabolites present in urine. Currently spectrometers are being developed to fit in the palm of your hand and within the next 10-15 years such technology will become cheap and compact enough for consumer use in the home. The Fluid Analyser speculates how such a home Mass Spectrometer may function, the daily collection and analysis of both urine and saliva, feeding fresh data, wirelessly into the Metabolic Painting.
The designers underwent a Chinese Constitution examination, forming the basis of a personalised questionnaire according to their symptom profiles. This experience led to the design of Echo, a conversational object that uses speech recognition to monitor your personal thoughts and feelings in response to pointed questions. Echo questions a more active role from individuals, asked to reflect upon their mental and physical state on a daily basis, by engaging in conversation with artificial intelligence.
The Metabolic Paintings visualise our personal health stories, combining two sources of information: Traditional Chinese Medicine and Metabolic data. Answers from the personalised medical questionnaire were used to create an underlying structure, defining specific health states or syndromes (Blood Deficiency, Qi Stagnation and Blood Stagnation). Biochemical data from the urine metabolic analysis was inserted within these pulling forces, abstractly linking the appearance and disappearance of metabolites with the emotional and physical variations of our bodies through time.