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The experience of looking at The Sick Rose, which is a well-curated print presentation of pictures that are accessible on the Wellcome Images site, raises questions about historical medical images, and when and in what media it is appropriate to look at them. It's one thing to take a beautifully bound book aside into a quiet armchair and have a one on one encounter with with a dignified man with a bulbous, untreated pendant tumor, or the face of an infant wizened by tertiary syphilis. It is another to see exactly the same faces flit by on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, in a jumble of other unrelated images and detached from Barnett's context -providing scholarship.
Afflictions, most of which are now rare in the Western world organize the Sick Rose: gout, cholera, tuberculosis, advanced stages of syphilis. Online, the patients' anguish runs the risk of being seen as vintage"---nearly amusing in its awful extremity and its space from our own time. In a blog post about the procedure for assembling and later marketing The Sick Rose, Barnett admitted to a sense of unease" about sending the pictures away into the entire world, worrying regarding the kitsch, understanding, and emptily ironized approach" that could greet the images. (When Wired ran a slideshow of pictures from Sick Rose in May, for instance, it was headlined Awesomely Gross Medical Illustrations From the 19th Century") Over Skype, Barnett told me: These are all pictures of something that happened to someone somewhere. They aren't visualized."
As historical medical images go digital, scholars and archivists are being compelled to consider the benefits of disseminating the interesting and unquestionably significant record of the development of medical practice with concerns that the images will soon be misunderstood and misused. Making the pictures accessible will most likely result in some tone-deaf uses and aspect at best---exploiting the shock value of a disfigured face or body at On the other hand, digitization of the types of pictures that were once accessible only to researchers with the means to travel to archives can do a great deal of good. Such visibility can raise consciousness about past wrongs, ease connections between historians and also the families of former patients provide us with a brand new way to consider our own mortality. (Because there are good arguments on both sides, and because these medical images could be disturbing to some readers, we have chosen to set the pictures we're publishing with this article behind an electronic scrim, allowing you, the reader, to decide whether to view them.)
Here's one case that demonstrates how far such digitized pictures can slip from their contexts. Art historian Suzannah Biernoff has written about the fate of a group of patient pictures from the Gillies Archives These are the World War I-era records of Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, in the U.K., where plastic surgeon Harold Gillies headed a special component treating injuries that needed maxillofacial surgery. Gillies commissioned photographers and artists to document his patients' presurgical harms, using the pictures to plan his team's strategy.
These photos ended up on the Web as part of a mid-2000s exhibit titled Project Faade (now archived through the Wayback Machine ). The job, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust's SciArt Production Award, was a cooperation among artist Paddy Hartley; Dr. Andrew Bamji, a rheumatologist who acts as curator of the Gillies Archives; and Dr. Ian Thompson, a surgeon and designer of facial implants. The visuals that Hartley made with inspiration from these archives afterwards formed the foundation of an exhibition at the National Army Museum in London. The project, Hartley writes on his website , was intended to explore the effect of veterans' wartime injuries and following facial operations on their lives.
Following the exhibit had closed nevertheless, the digital images had another life. Some photos from the Project Faade archive ended up used in the plan of the genetic mutants (splicers") that players of the videogame BioShock must battle. Henry Lumley, one of many patients in the photographs, a pilot trainee, was injured on the day of his graduation from flying school and lived with his injury for a year before being admitted to Gillies' attention. Lumley died of postoperative complications, at age 26. (Here's his page on the Project Faade website And here's a picture of the BioShock character in question) Lumley and his fellow patients are now forced to roam around in virtual space, made into monsters for the amusement of gamers.
Std Test near me Point Clear. Does this matter, given that many (most?) BioShock players WOn't ever know who these men were in real life? Biernoff writes that British culture during the World War I perceived departure in battle as glorious, but facial mutilation was seen as nearly shameful---a fate worse than death"---and images of soldiers injured in this way were censored, lest they diminish morale. So even if gamers never understand the characters they're seeing on screen were once actual men, it can still feel when they're trotted out as digitized monsters like these men, ostracized in life, are being wronged again. Point Clear AL United States std test. As Wellcome Library archivist Natalie Walters pointed out in a post on the connection between BioShock and also the Gillies Archive: That nearly 100 years after comparable pictures are used to frighten folks in a computer game, gives us a glance into what life should have been like for people who endured such disfiguring injuries." (She includes: How brave these guys were to permit themselves to be photographed with extensive injuries, and to experience treatments that frequently made them seem worse before they seemed better.")
Std Test in Point Clear. Dr. Andrew Bamji, the Gillies Archives' curator, told me over email that he approached the game's programmers after finding out about this use and succeeded in contacting one. I pointed out that the use of identifiable men in the context of the game was an appalling approach to treat the memory of veterans," Bamji wrote. He apologized and assured me that no additional such images would be utilized, and there the matter ended." Bamji drew a clear distinction between using such pictures in a project like BioShock, where they were disassociated from the names and stories of the patients, and the Project Faade of Hartley. Std test nearest Alabama. I have no issue with all the display of images in a historic context, as without this people don't comprehend what war can do."
Should we limit access to upsetting digital images to individuals who we can be sure will perceive them in appropriate context? Michael Sappol , a historian at the U.S. National Library of Medicine who has written about historic and modern medical display, has an argument to the contrary. The NLM's digital collections have lately posted a number of hushed medical movies from between 1929 and 1945 , a few of which represent what Sappol calls tough issues": leprosy, electroshock, schizophrenia. Sappol mentions, in particular, this 1929 film made at Cook County Hospital in Chicago , which shows four children who are dying of rabies. The patients convulse, struggle, bleed from the mouth; they're inconsolable, even as offer them water or gloved adult hands reach from off screen to hold them.
Sappol does not think it should be the occupation of the librarian or archivist to determine that the public can't handle looking at such images. We're stewards of these historical materials," he told me. They do not belong to us. They belong to everybody. ... I would not like to play on behalf of the subjects and arrogate to myself the occupation of being some kind of cop of 'who can view.' " With the NLM's electroshock therapy movies from the 1930s, Sappol says, A Number of the folks in this picture ... look like they surely do not consent to the procedure, and it's upsetting to see. I could say 'This person does not want to be on camera, they are being humiliated.' But this is from. If we never get to see this, who gets to understand?" The curiosity we feel about such pictures, he argues, is not black, but only human.
The problem is further complicated by the fact that some subjects favor visibility. This is the case with all the Thalidomide Trust archive, which contains medical case files on individuals produced withsevere birth defects after their mothers took the drug thalidomide to alleviate symptoms of morning sickness in the late 1950s-early-1960s," Wellcome archivist Helen Wakely wrote to me. The viewpoints of thalidomiders themselves on what should occur with their case files vary widely, but some definitely want their files and images made accessible for research as a willful action to open up discussion."Of course, there's no way to ask the patients whose bodies appear in The Sick Rose whether they'd prefer to be seen or remain concealed. Nevertheless, the modern example of thalidomide shows that we should not assume that publication is tantamount to infringement.
Nor should we suppose that the Web is a serious medium than the bound-and- printed book. Historian Miriam Posner, who wrote her dissertation on medical filmmaking, is additionally a digital historian dedicated to making her sources publicly accessible. Point Clear AL Std Test. In 2010, Posner posted about the ethical quandary she faced when asked to collaborate on a slideshow of photos that were lobotomy with a producer at NPR's show Science Friday. Neurologist Walter Freeman, who carried out more than 3,500 of the procedures, photographed and filmed his patients before and after their surgeries.
But Posner finally went ahead with the Science Friday slideshow, reasoning that by simply asking viewers to choose a second look at the before" images of patients, which Freeman presented for his own purposes as broken," she might have the ability to reveal that these faces feature more possibilities than Freeman ever saw." A commenter on Posner's place wrote that he had recently discovered that his grandpa, lobotomized and who he'd never met, had been institutionalized in West Virginia, where Freeman did some of his work. The commenter wrote: I haven't seen an image of my grandpa, never, ever, and I actually don't care if it is an image of him having this done I merely want and need to see a picture of him so MUCH. Can you tell me how to get to these archives?" It might have been much more difficult for the commenter to locate her if Posner hadn't gone with Science Friday; the connection might not have been made. Std Test near Point Clear.
Finally, there is a spiritual argument for making such images available. AL, United States Std Test. Even if medical pictures may be abused, Michael Sappol says, I don't want that chance to prevent these things that are really amazing documents of the human encounter from being seen. ... We can learn from them, they could redeem us in some way. They are able to provide us with some type of program of human suffering. ... Looking at them makes life richer and deeper." Barnett, despite his misgivings, concurs on this point: There's a power behind these pictures, there is a power they have over us, and we've got to acknowledge or respect this at some point." He compares the pictures to a lay vanitas ," referring to the 17th century Dutch paintings of skulls and other symbols of decay that were meant to remind the viewer of human mortality. For modern viewers, Barnett says, images like those in the Sick Rose might remind us: This Is Actually the body, along with the end that we all come to."
Still, a vanitas demands space for contemplation---a space the Web appears ill to offer. Susan Sontag's final book, Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), was composed as the Web was in the process of scattering pictures to the four winds. Sontag wrote that photographs of suffering could be a memento mori " and serve as a still point around which to consider mortality. But she wondered how this could work---or fail to work---in a modern society," where space allowed for being serious is hard to come by." One wonders what she might have made of Pinterest if she believed that about art galleries, books, and television.
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