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The experience of looking at The Sick Rose, which is a good-curated print presentation of pictures that are freely available on the Wellcome Images website, raises questions about medical pictures that are historical, and when and in what media it is proper to view them. It is one thing to take a beautifully bound book apart 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 the exact same faces detached from Barnett's context and flit by on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, in a jumble of other unrelated pictures -supplying scholarship.
Afflictions, the majority of which are now rare in the Western world organize the Sick Rose: cholera, tuberculosis, gout, advanced phases of syphilis. Online, the patients' suffering runs the risk of being seen as vintage"---nearly funny in its horrible extremity and its space from our own time. In a blog post about the procedure for assembling and later promoting The Sick Rose, Barnett acknowledged to a sense of unease" about sending the pictures away into the whole world, worrying in regards to the kitsch, understanding, and emptily ironized attitude" that could greet the images. (When Wired ran a slideshow of pictures 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 images of something that happened to someone somewhere. They're not envisioned."
As historical medical images go digital, scholars and archivists are being compelled to consider the benefits of disseminating the definitely significant and fascinating record of the evolution of medical practice with matters that the pictures will likely be misused and misunderstood. Making the images available will almost surely cause some tone deaf uses, lacking empathy and respect at best---using the shock value of a disfigured face or body at worst. On the other hand, digitization of the sorts of pictures that were once accessible only to researchers with the resources to travel to archives can do lots of good. Such visibility can raise consciousness about previous wrongs, facilitate the families of former patients as well as links between historians provide us with a new method to think of our own mortality. (Because there are good arguments on both sides, and because these medical images can be disturbing to some readers, we have chosen to put the photographs we're publishing with this article behind a digital scrim, which allows you, the reader, to decide whether to see them.)
Here's one case that demonstrates how much such digitized photos can slip away from their contexts. 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 specific component treating injuries that needed maxillofacial surgery. Gillies commissioned artists and photographers to record his patients' presurgical injuries, using the images to plan his team's approach.
These pictures ended up on the Web as part of a mid-2000s exhibit titled Project Faade (now archived via the Wayback Machine ). The project, 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 art that Hartley made with inspiration from these archives later formed the basis of an exhibition at the National Army Museum in London. The project, Hartley writes on his website , was intended to learn more about the effect of veterans' wartime injuries and following facial surgeries on their lives.
Following the exhibition had closed, but the digital images had another life. Some photographs 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 photos, a pilot trainee, Henry Lumley, was injured on the day of his graduation from flying school and lived with his injury for a year before being declared to Gillies' care. Lumley died at age 26, of postoperative complications. (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 wander around in virtual space, made into monsters for the amusement of gamers.
Std test near me Rose Hill. 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 virtually black---a fate worse than death"---and images of soldiers injured in this manner were censored, lest they reduce morale. So if gamers never realize that the characters they're seeing on screen were once actual guys, it can nevertheless feel when they're trotted out as digitized monsters, like these guys, ostracized in life, are being wronged again. Rose Hill KS 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 comparable images are used to frighten people in a computer game, gives us a glance into what life should have been like for individuals who sustained such disfiguring injuries." (She adds: How courageous these men were to let themselves to be photographed with extensive injuries, and to experience treatments that often made them look worse before they appeared better.")
Std Test near Rose Hill. Dr. Andrew Bamji, the Gillies Archives' curator, told me over e-mail that he approached the game's programmers after finding out about this use and succeeded in contacting one. I pointed out that using identifiable men in the circumstance of the game was an appalling way 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 images in a project like BioShock, where they were disassociated from the names and narratives of the patients, and the Project Faade of Hartley. Std test near me Kansas. I have no problem with all the display of images in a historical context, as without this folks do not understand what war can do."
Should we confine access 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 historical and modern medical display, has an argument to the contrary. The NLM's digital sets have lately posted a number of quiet medical films from between 1929 and 1945 , some of which signify what Sappol calls tough issues": leprosy, electroshock, schizophrenia. Sappol mentions, in particular, this 1929 picture made at Cook County Hospital in Chicago , which shows four kids who are dying of rabies. Struggle, the patients convulse, bleed from the mouth; they are inconsolable, even as gloved adult hands reach from off screen to hold them or offer them water.
Sappol doesn't believe it should be the job of the librarian or archivist to decide that the people can't handle looking at such images. We are stewards of these historical materials," he told me. They don't belong to us. They belong to everybody. ... I wouldn't like to play on behalf of the areas and arrogate to myself the job 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 people in this picture ... look like they certainly do not consent to the procedure, also it's disturbing to see. I really could say 'This man doesn't need to be on camera, they're being humiliated.' But this is something we can learn from. If we never get to see this, who gets to know?" The fascination we feel about such images, he claims, isn't shameful, but simply human.
The matter is further complicated by the fact that a few subjects prefer visibility. This is actually the situation with the Thalidomide Trust archive, which includes medical case files on individuals produced 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 viewpoints of thalidomiders themselves on what should occur with their case files fluctuate widely, but some undoubtedly need their files and images made accessible for research as a deliberate act to open up debate."Of course, there is not any means to ask the patients whose bodies appear in The Sick Rose whether they would prefer to be viewed or stay concealed. Nevertheless, the modern example of thalidomide shows that we should not presume that publication is tantamount to infringement.
Nor should we assume that the Web is a less serious medium than the bound-and- printed book. Historian Miriam Posner, who wrote her dissertation on medical filmmaking, is additionally a digital historian committed to making her sources publicly accessible. Rose Hill KS 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 photos that were lobotomy. Neurologist Walter Freeman, who carried out more than 3,500 of the procedures, photographed and patients his filmed before and after their operations.
But Posner ultimately went ahead with the Science Friday slideshow, reasoning that by simply asking audiences to take a second look at the before" pictures of patients, which Freeman presented for his own motives as broken," she may be able to show that these faces feature more possibilities than Freeman ever saw." A commenter on the post of Posner wrote that he'd lately learned that his grandpa, who he'd never met, had been institutionalized and lobotomized in West Virginia, where Freeman did some of his work. The commenter wrote: I don't care if it is a picture of him having this done I merely desire and desire to see a picture of him so MUCH, and I have not seen a picture of my grandpa, never, ever. Can you tell me how to get to these archives?" If Posner had not gone with Science Friday, it might have been much more challenging for the commenter to locate her; the connection mightn't have been made. Std test near me Rose Hill.
Eventually, there's a religious argument for making such images available. KS United States std test. Even if medical images might be abused, Michael Sappol says, I do not want that chance to prevent these things that are actually amazing records of the human experience from being seen. ... We can learn from them, they are able to redeem us in some way. They can supply us with some sort of curriculum of human suffering. ... Looking at them makes life richer and deeper." Barnett, despite his misgivings, agrees on this point: There's a power behind these images, there's a power they have over us, and we have to acknowledge or respect this at some point." He compares the images 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."
However, a vanitas requires space for contemplation---a space the Web looks ill prepared to offer. Susan Sontag's final book, Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), was composed as the Web was in the process of 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 could function---or fail to work---in a modern society," where space reserved for being serious is challenging to come by." One wonders what she may have made of Pinterest if she thought that about television, books, and art galleries.
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