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The experience of looking at The Sick Rose, which is a good-curated print presentation of pictures that are freely accessible on the Wellcome Images website, raises questions about medical pictures that are historic, and when and in what media it's proper to look at them. It's one thing to take a beautifully bound book apart into a quiet armchair and have a one-on-one encounter with all the face of a baby wizened by tertiary syphilis, or with a dignified man with a bulbous, untreated pendant tumor. It is another to see the exact same faces flit by on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, in a jumble of other unrelated pictures and detached from the circumstance of Barnett -providing scholarship.
The Sick Rose is formed by afflictions, the majority of which are now rare in the Western world: cholera, tuberculosis, gout, advanced phases of syphilis. Online, the patients' suffering runs the danger of being seen as classic"---almost funny in its dreadful extremity and its distance from our own time. In a blog post about the procedure for assembling and after promoting The Sick Rose, Barnett acknowledged to a sense of unease" about sending the pictures off into the whole world, worrying in regards to the kitsch, knowing, and emptily ironized attitude" that could greet the pictures. (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 images of something that happened to someone somewhere. They aren't imagined."
As historic medical pictures go digital, scholars and archivists are being compelled to weigh the advantages of disseminating the interesting and definitely important record of the progression of medical practice with concerns that the images will be misused and misunderstood. Making the pictures accessible will almost certainly cause some tone-deaf uses, lacking empathy and aspect at best---manipulating the shock value of an at body disfigured face or worst. On the other hand, digitization of the types of images that were once available only to researchers with the means to travel to archives can do plenty of good. Such visibility can raise awareness about past wrongs, facilitate the families of former patients and links between historians , even provide us with a brand new strategy to think of our own mortality. (Because there are good arguments on both sides, and because these medical images may be disturbing to some readers, we have chosen to put the pictures we are publishing with this particular post behind a digital scrim, which allows you, the reader, to decide whether to view them.)
Here's one instance that shows how much such digitized photos can slip from their circumstances. Art historian Suzannah Biernoff has written about the destiny 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 specific component treating injuries that necessitated maxillofacial surgery. Gillies commissioned artists and photographers to document his patients' presurgical harms, using the pictures to plan his team's strategy.
These pictures ended up on the Web as part of a mid-2000s exhibition titled Project Faade (now archived through the Wayback Machine ). The project, which was financed 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 graphics that Hartley made from these archives with inspiration later formed the basis of an exhibition at London's National Army Museum. The endeavor, Hartley writes on his web site , was meant to explore the impact of veterans' wartime injuries and following facial surgeries on their lives.
Nevertheless, the digital images had another life following the exhibit had closed. 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. Among the patients in the pictures, a pilot trainee, Henry Lumley, lived with his harm for a year and was injured on the day of his graduation from flying school 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 nearby Pendergrass. Does this issue, 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 departure in battle as glorious, but facial mutilation was seen as almost black---a fate worse than death"---and images of soldiers injured in this way were censored, lest they reduce morale. So even if gamers never realize the characters they're 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. Pendergrass, GA, United States Std Test. As Wellcome Library archivist Natalie Walters pointed out in a post on the connection between BioShock as well as the Gillies Archive: That nearly 100 years after comparable pictures are used to frighten people in a computer game, gives us a peek into what life should have been like for people who endured such disfiguring injuries." (She includes: How courageous these guys were to allow themselves to be photographed with extensive injuries, and to get treatments that often made them seem worse before they seemed better.")
Std test closest to Pendergrass. Dr. Andrew Bamji, the Gillies Archives' curator, told me over e-mail 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 guys in the context of the game was an appalling method to take care of the memory of veterans," Bamji wrote. He apologized and assured me that no further such images would be used, and there the matter ended." Bamji drew a clear distinction between using such pictures in a job like BioShock, where they were disassociated from the names and narratives of the patients, and Hartley's Project Faade. Std test near Georgia. I have no issue with the display of pictures in a historic context, as without this folks do not understand what war can do."
Should we restrict accessibility to upsetting digital images to individuals who we can be certain will perceive them in proper context? Michael Sappol , a historian at the U.S. National Library of Medicine who has written about historical and modern medical display, has an argument to the contrary. The NLM's digital collections have lately posted a series of quiet medical pictures from between 1929 and 1945 , a few of which signify what Sappol calls tough subjects": leprosy, electroshock, schizophrenia. Sappol mentions, in particular, this 1929 film made at Cook County Hospital in Chicago , which shows four kids that are dying of rabies. The patients convulse, fight, 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 job of the librarian or archivist to determine that the people can't handle looking at images that are such. 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 act on behalf of the areas and arrogate to myself the job of being some type of policeman 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, plus it's upsetting to see. I could say 'This individual does not want to be on camera, they're being humiliated.' But this is from. If we never get to see this, who gets to understand?" The interest we feel about such images, he argues, is not shameful, but simply human.
The issue is further complicated by the fact that a few subjects favor visibility. This really is the case with all the Thalidomide Trust archive, which includes medical case files on individuals born withsevere birth defects after their mothers took the drug thalidomide to ease symptoms of morning sickness in the late 1950s-early-1960s," Wellcome archivist Helen Wakely wrote to me. The views of thalidomiders themselves on what should happen with their case files vary widely, but some definitely want their files and pictures made available for research as a purposeful act to open up debate."Of course, there is no way to ask the patients whose bodies appear in The Sick Rose whether they'd prefer to be observed or stay concealed. Nevertheless, the modern case of thalidomide demonstrates that we should not assume that publication is tantamount to violation.
Nor should we suppose that the Web is a less serious medium than the bound-and- book that is printed. Historian Miriam Posner, who wrote her dissertation on medical filmmaking, is additionally a digital historian dedicated to making her sources publicly available. Pendergrass GA std test. In 2010, Posner posted about the ethical quandary she faced when asked 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 processes, photographed and filmed his patients before and after their operations.
But Posner ultimately went ahead with the Science Friday slideshow, reasoning that by asking audiences to choose a second look at the before" pictures of patients, which Freeman presented for his own goals as broken," she may be able to reveal that these faces feature more possibilities than Freeman ever saw." A commenter on Posner's place wrote that he'd lately discovered that his grandpa, lobotomized and who he had never met, had been institutionalized in West Virginia, where Freeman did some of his work. The commenter wrote: I have not seen a picture of my grandfather, never, ever, and I really don't care if it's an image of him having this done I just want and need to see a picture of him so MUCH. Can you tell me the best way to get to these archives?" If Posner hadn't gone with Science Friday, it might have been considerably tougher for the commenter to find her; the connection mightn't have been made. Std Test near me Pendergrass.
Eventually, there's a spiritual argument for making such pictures accessible. GA United States std test. Even if medical images might be abused, Michael Sappol says, I actually don't need that possibility to prevent these things that are actually 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 form of program of human suffering. ... Looking at them makes life richer and deeper." Barnett, despite his misgivings, concurs on this particular point: There is a power behind these images, there's a power they have over us, and we've got to acknowledge or honor this at some point." He compares the pictures to a secular 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 the body, and also the conclusion that we all come to."
However, 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 procedure for scattering photographs to the four winds. Sontag wrote that photos of suffering might be a memento mori " and serve as a still point around which to consider mortality. But she wondered how this may function---or fail to work---in a modern society," where space reserved for being serious is difficult to come by." One wonders what she might have made of Pinterest if she believed that about television, novels, and art galleries.
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