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The experience of looking at The Sick Rose, which is a good-curated print presentation of images that are freely accessible on the Wellcome Images website, raises questions about medical pictures that are historical, 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 all with a dignified man with a bulbous, untreated pendant tumor, or the face of a baby wizened by tertiary syphilis. It's another to see exactly the same faces detached from the circumstance of Barnett and flit by on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, in a jumble of other unrelated pictures -providing scholarship.
The Sick Rose is formed by afflictions, most of which are now rare in the Western world: cholera, tuberculosis, gout, advanced phases of syphilis. On the Internet, the patients' anguish runs the danger of being seen as classic"---nearly funny in its dreadful extremity and its distance from our own time. In a blog post about the process of assembling and later marketing The Sick Rose, Barnett acknowledged to a sense of unease" about sending the images away into the world, worrying about the kitsch, knowing, and emptily ironized attitude" that could greet the images. (When Wired ran a slideshow of photographs from Sick Rose in May, for example, 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 envisioned."
As historic medical images go digital, scholars and archivists are being forced to weigh the benefits of disseminating the unquestionably significant and interesting record of the evolution of medical practice with issues that the images will likely be misused and misunderstood. Making the pictures accessible will probably result in some tone deaf uses and regard at best---exploiting the shock value of a disfigured face or body at On the other hand, digitization of the sorts of pictures which were once available only to researchers with the resources to travel to archives can do a lot of great. Such visibility can raise awareness about past wrongs, facilitate the families of former patients and links between historians provide us with a new way to think of our own mortality. (Because there are good arguments on either side, and because these medical images could be upsetting to some readers, we've decided to place the photographs we're printing with this specific post behind an electronic scrim, which allows you, the reader, to choose whether to view them.)
Here's one instance that demonstrates how much such digitized photos can steal away from their circumstances. Art historian Suzannah Biernoff has written about the destiny of a group of patient images 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 specific unit treating injuries that necessitated maxillofacial surgery. Gillies commissioned photographers and artists to record his patients' presurgical harms, using the images to plan his team's strategy.
These photos ended up on the Web as part of a mid-2000s exhibition titled Project Faade (now archived via the Wayback Machine ). The job, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust's SciArt Production Award, was a collaboration 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 artwork that Hartley made with inspiration from these archives afterwards formed the foundation of an exhibition at the National Army Museum in London. The endeavor, Hartley writes on his site , was intended to learn more about the impact of veterans' wartime injuries and following facial surgeries on their lives.
Nevertheless, the digital images had another life after the exhibition had closed. Some photos from the Project Faade archive ended up used in the design of the genetic mutants (splicers") that players of the videogame BioShock must battle. Among the patients in the pictures, Henry Lumley, a pilot trainee, was injured on the day of his graduation from flying school and lived with his harm for a year before being declared to Gillies' attention. Lumley died at age 26, of postoperative complications. (Here's his page on the Project Faade site And here's a picture of the BioShock character in question) Lumley and his fellow patients are now compelled to drift about in virtual space, made into monsters for the amusement of gamers.
Std Test nearest Tiffany. Does this matter, given that many (most?) BioShock players will never understand who these men were in real life? Biernoff writes that British culture during the World War I perceived death in battle as glorious, but facial mutilation was seen as almost black---a fate worse than death"---and pictures of soldiers injured in this manner were censored, lest they reduce morale. So even if gamers never understand the characters they are seeing on screen were once real men, it can nevertheless feel when they are trotted out as digitized monsters like these guys, ostracized in life, are being wronged again. Tiffany, CO United States Std Test. As Wellcome Library archivist Natalie Walters pointed out in a post on the connection between BioShock along with the Gillies Archive: That nearly 100 years after similar pictures are used to frighten folks in a computer game, gives us a glance into what life should have been like for people who sustained such disfiguring injuries." (She adds: How brave these guys were to let themselves to be photographed with extensive injuries, and to get treatments that frequently made them look worse before they seemed better.")
Std test near Tiffany. Dr. Andrew Bamji, the Gillies Archives' curator, told me over email that he approached the game's developers after finding out about this use and succeeded in contacting one. I pointed out that the use of identifiable men in the circumstance of the game was an appalling method to heal 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 the utilization of such pictures in a project like BioShock, where they were disassociated from the names and stories of the patients, and Hartley's Project Faade. Std test nearby Colorado. I have no issue with all the display of pictures in a historic context, as without this folks don't understand what war can do."
Should we restrict accessibility to upsetting digital images to individuals who we can be certain will see them in proper 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 sets have recently posted a run of silent medical pictures from between 1929 and 1945 , some of which signify what Sappol calls hard themes": leprosy, electroshock, schizophrenia. Sappol mentions, in particular, this 1929 movie made at Cook County Hospital in Chicago , which shows four kids that are dying of rabies. Struggle, the patients convulse, bleed from the mouth; they're inconsolable, even as gloved adult hands reach from off screen to hold them or offer them water.
Sappol does not think it should be the occupation of the librarian or archivist to determine that the public can not handle looking at such images. We're stewards of these historical materials," he told me. They don't belong to us. They belong to everybody. ... I wouldn't like to act on behalf of the areas and arrogate to myself the job of being some kind of officer of 'who can view.' " With the NLM's electroshock therapy films from the 1930s, Sappol says, A Number of the people in this film ... look like they certainly do not consent to the process, and it is disturbing to see. I really could say 'This man doesn't desire 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 claims, is not black, but merely human.
The problem is further complicated by the fact that a few subjects favor visibility. This is actually the case with all the Thalidomide Trust archive, which comprises medical case files on individuals born withsevere birth defects after their mothers took the drug thalidomide to relieve symptoms of morning sickness in the late 1950s-early-1960s," Wellcome archivist Helen Wakely wrote to me. The perspectives of thalidomiders themselves on what should happen with their case files vary widely, but some undoubtedly want their files and images made accessible for research as a willful act to open up disagreement."Of course, there's no way to ask the patients whose bodies appear in The Sick Rose whether they'd prefer to be viewed or remain concealed. But the modern example of thalidomide reveals that we must not assume that publication is tantamount to infringement.
Nor should we presume 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 available. Tiffany CO Std Test. In 2010, Posner posted about the ethical quandary she faced when requested to collaborate with a producer at NPR's show Science Friday on a slideshow of photographs that were lobotomy. Neurologist Walter Freeman, who carried out more than 3,500 of the procedures, photographed and filmed his patients before and after their operations.
But Posner ultimately went ahead with the Science Friday slideshow, reasoning that by simply asking observers to choose a second look at the before" pictures of patients, which Freeman presented for his own motives as broken," she may have the capacity to show that these faces comprise more options than Freeman ever saw." A commenter on the post of Posner wrote that he'd recently learned that his grandfather, who he'd never met, had been institutionalized and lobotomized in West Virginia. The commenter wrote: I have not seen an image of my grandpa, never, ever, and I actually don't care if it is a graphic of him having this done I merely want and need to see a picture of him so MUCH. Can you tell me the best way to get to these archives?" It might have been much more challenging for the commenter to find her, if Posner hadn't gone ahead with Science Friday; the connection might not have been made. Std test near me Tiffany.
Finally, there's a religious argument for making such images available. CO United States std test. Even if medical pictures may be abused, Michael Sappol says, I do not desire that possibility to prevent these things that are really amazing documents of the human encounter from being seen. ... We can learn from them, they are able to redeem us in some way. They could supply us with some kind of curriculum of human suffering. ... Looking at them makes life richer and deeper." Barnett, despite his misgivings, concurs on this point: There is a power behind these images, there is a power they have over us, and we've got to accept or respect this at some point." He compares the pictures to a laic 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, and the conclusion that we all come to."
Still, a vanitas demands space for contemplation---a space the Web looks ill prepared to offer. Susan Sontag's closing book, Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), was written as the Web was in the process of scattering pictures to the four winds. Sontag wrote that photographs of suffering might be a memento mori " and serve as a still point around which to consider mortality. But she wondered how this might function---or fail to work---in a modern society," where space reserved for being serious is difficult to come by." If she thought that about art galleries, publications, and television, one wonders what she might have made of Pinterest.
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