The First Time, The Heart (First Pulse, Flatline) is a special print edition that is part of a larger project by Dario Robleto titled, The First Time, The Heart: A Portrait of Life, 1854-1913, a set of 50 prints housed in a clamshell portfolio box, also published by Island Press.
To honor the original method of recording the human heart beat used by 19th century physiologists—mark making in soot—Robleto, working with Island Press, devised a novel printing method merging lithography with hand-flamed and sooted paper. A high-resolution scan was taken of the original, historic pulse lines, which were printed lithographically in transparent ink. The paper was then hand-flamed, depositing an atmospheric layer of soot over the image area. After the paper was briefly submerged in a bath of shellac and denatured alcohol to fix the soot to the paper, lithotine (a purified, petroleum-based solvent) was applied to the printed lines and text with a brush to gently lift the image from the soot ground, revealing the white lines.