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The experience of looking at The Sick Rose, which is a good-curated print presentation of images that are available digitally on the Wellcome Images site, raises questions about historical medical images, and when and in what media it is appropriate to view them. It's one thing to take a beautifully bound book apart into a silent 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 tumour. It's another to see the same faces detached from Barnett's circumstance and flit by on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, in a jumble of other unrelated pictures -providing scholarship.
The Sick Rose is formed by afflictions, the majority of which are now rare in the Western world: cholera, tuberculosis, gout, advanced stages of syphilis. On the Internet, the patients' anguish runs the danger of being seen as classic"---nearly funny in its horrible extremity and its distance from our own time. In a blog post about the procedure for assembling and after marketing The Sick Rose, Barnett admitted to a sense of unease" about sending the pictures away into the planet, worrying in regards to the kitsch, understanding, and emptily ironized attitude" that could greet the pictures. (When Wired ran a slideshow of photos 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're not pictured."
As historical medical images go archivists, scholars and digital are being compelled to consider the advantages of disseminating the fascinating and certainly important record of the development of medical practice with matters that the images will probably be misused and misunderstood. Making the pictures accessible will almost surely result in some tone-deaf uses and aspect at best---manipulating the shock value of an at body disfigured face or On the other hand, digitization of the kinds of pictures which were once accessible only to researchers with the resources to travel to archives can do a great deal of good. Such visibility can raise consciousness about past wrongs, ease the families of former patients as well as links between historians provide us with a new strategy to think about our own mortality. (Because there are great arguments on both sides, and because these medical images could be upsetting to some readers, we have decided to put the photographs we are printing with this particular post behind an electronic scrim, allowing you, the reader, to choose whether to view them.)
Here's one case that demonstrates how much such digitized photographs can slip from their circumstances. Art historian Suzannah Biernoff has written about the fate 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 special unit treating injuries that needed maxillofacial surgery. Gillies commissioned photographers and artists to record his patients' presurgical harms, using the images to plan the strategy of his team.
These photos ended up on the Web as a portion of a mid-2000s exhibit 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 from these archives with inspiration after formed the basis of an exhibition at London's National Army Museum. The project, Hartley writes on his site , was intended to learn more about the effect of veterans' wartime injuries and subsequent facial operations on their lives.
After the exhibition had closed but the digital images had another life. Some photographs from the Endeavor Faade archive ended up used in the design of the genetic mutants (splicers") that players of the videogame BioShock must battle. One of the patients in the photographs, Henry Lumley, a pilot trainee, lived with his harm for a year and was injured on the day of his graduation from flying school before being admitted to Gillies' care. 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 compelled to wander about in virtual space, made into monsters for the amusement of gamers.
Std Test near me New Cambria. 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 departure in battle as glorious, but facial mutilation was seen as virtually shameful---a fate worse than death"---and images of soldiers injured in this way were censored, lest they diminish morale. So if gamers never understand that the characters they are seeing on screen were once real guys, it can nevertheless feel when they're trotted out as digitized monsters, like these men, ostracized in life, are being wronged again. New Cambria, KS, United States std test. As Wellcome Library archivist Natalie Walters pointed out in a post on the connection between BioShock and the Gillies Archive: That nearly 100 years later comparable images are used to frighten people in a computer game, gives us a glimpse into what life must have been like for folks who endured such disfiguring injuries." (She includes: How brave these men were to let themselves to be photographed with extensive injuries, and to experience treatments that often made them seem worse before they looked better.")
Std Test near me New Cambria. 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 usage 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 finished." Bamji drew a clear distinction between the utilization of such pictures in a job like BioShock, where they were disassociated from the names and narratives of the patients, and the Project Faade of Hartley. Std test nearby Kansas. I have no issue with all the display of pictures in a historic context, as without this people don't comprehend what war can do."
Should we confine access to upsetting digital images to individuals who we can be certain will perceive them in appropriate context? Michael Sappol , a historian at the U.S. National Library of Medicine who has written about historic and contemporary medical display, has an argument to the contrary. The NLM's digital collections have recently posted a number of hushed medical films from between 1929 and 1945 , a few of which signify 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 doesn't think it should be the job of the librarian or archivist to determine that the people can not handle looking at such images. We are 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 job of being some type of cop of 'who can view.' " With the NLM's electroshock therapy pictures from the 1930s, Sappol says, Some of the men and women in this movie ... seem like they definitely don't consent to the process, plus it's disturbing to see. I really could say 'This man doesn't want to be on camera, they are being humiliated.' But this is something we can learn from. If we never get to see this, who gets to understand?" The curiosity we feel about such pictures, he claims, isn't black, but just human.
The issue is further complicated by the fact that visibility is preferred by some subjects. This is actually the situation with the Thalidomide Trust archive, which features medical case files on people 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 need their files and images made accessible for research as a willful action to open up argument."Of course, there is not any method to ask the patients whose bodies appear in The Sick Rose whether they'd prefer to be viewed or stay hidden. But the modern example of thalidomide demonstrates that we must not assume that publication is tantamount to violation.
Nor should we assume that the Web is a serious medium than the bound-and- book that is printed. Historian Miriam Posner, who wrote her dissertation on medical filmmaking, is also a digital historian dedicated to making her sources publicly accessible. New Cambria KS 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 pictures 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 surgeries.
But Posner finally went ahead with the Science Friday slideshow, reasoning that by asking observers to take a second look at the before" pictures of patients, which Freeman presented for his own goals as broken," she may manage to show that these faces contain more options than Freeman ever saw." A commenter on the post of Posner wrote that he had recently discovered that his grandpa, who he had never met, had been institutionalized and lobotomized in West Virginia, where Freeman did some of his work. The commenter wrote: I really don't care if it is an image of him having this done I only desire and need to see a picture of him so MUCH, and I have never seen a picture of my grandpa, never, ever. Can you tell me the way to get to these archives?" It might have been much tougher for the commenter to find her if Posner had not gone ahead with Science Friday; the connection might not have been made. Std Test closest to New Cambria.
Eventually, there's a religious argument for making such pictures accessible. KS United States std test. Even if medical pictures may be misused, Michael Sappol says, I don't desire that possibility to prevent these things that are really amazing documents of the human experience from being seen. ... We can learn from them, they could redeem us in some way. They can provide us with some type 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 pictures, there's a power they have over us, and we've got to recognize 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, pictures 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 requires space for contemplation---a space the Web seems ill 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 pictures of suffering might be a memento mori " and serve as a still point around which to contemplate mortality. But she wondered how this might function---or fail to work---in a modern society," where space allowed for being serious is difficult to come by." If she thought that about art galleries, publications, and television, one wonders what she may have made of Pinterest.
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