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The experience of looking at The Sick Rose, which is a good-curated print presentation of images that are freely available on the Wellcome Images website, raises questions about historic medical pictures, 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 quiet armchair and have a one on one encounter with all with a dignified man with a bulbous, untreated pendant tumour, or the face of an infant wizened by tertiary syphilis. It's another to see the exact same faces flit by on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, in a jumble of other unrelated pictures and detached from Barnett's context -supplying scholarship.
The Sick Rose is formed by afflictions, most of which are now rare in the Western world: gout, cholera, tuberculosis, advanced stages of syphilis. Online, the patients' suffering runs the risk of being seen as vintage"---almost comical in its horrible 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 feeling of unease" about sending the images away into the entire world, worrying in regards to the kitsch, knowing, and emptily ironized approach" 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're not visualized."
As historical medical images go archivists, scholars and digital are being compelled to consider the benefits of disseminating the unquestionably important and interesting record of the evolution of medical practice with concerns that the pictures will likely be misunderstood and misused. Making the pictures accessible will almost certainly result in some tone deaf uses, lacking empathy and aspect at best---exploiting the shock value of an at body disfigured face or On the other hand, digitization of the sorts of images which were once available only to researchers with the means to travel to archives can do a lot of great. Such visibility can raise consciousness about previous wrongs, ease connections between historians and also the families of former patients provide us with a new strategy to consider our own mortality. (Because there are good arguments on both sides, and because these medical images may be upsetting to some readers, we've chosen to set the photographs we're publishing with this particular post behind an electronic scrim, which allows you, the reader, to choose 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 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 particular component treating injuries that needed maxillofacial surgery. Gillies commissioned artists and photographers to record his patients' presurgical harms, using the images to plan his team's approach.
These photographs ended up on the Web as part of a mid-2000s exhibit 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 art that Hartley made from these archives with inspiration later formed the foundation of an exhibition at the National Army Museum in London. The endeavor, Hartley writes on his web site , was intended to explore the impact of veterans' wartime injuries and following facial surgeries on their lives.
After the exhibition had closed, but the digital images had another life. Some pictures from the Endeavor Faade archive ended up used in the design of the genetic mutants (splicers") that players of the videogame BioShock must battle. Henry Lumley, one of the patients in the photos, a pilot trainee, lived with his injury for a year and was injured on the day of his graduation from flying school before being admitted to Gillies' care. Lumley died at age 26, of postoperative complications. (Here's his page on the Project Faade site And here's an image 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 entertainment of gamers.
Std test nearest Anacoco. Does this matter, given that many (most?) BioShock players will never know who these guys 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 pictures of soldiers injured in this way were censored, lest they reduce morale. So even if gamers never understand the characters they are seeing on screen were once actual men, it can nevertheless feel when they're trotted out as digitized monsters, like these guys, ostracized in life, are being wronged again. Anacoco LA 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 almost 100 years after similar pictures are used to frighten folks in a computer game, gives us a glance into what life must have been like for folks who sustained such disfiguring injuries." (She adds: How courageous these men were to allow themselves to be photographed with extensive injuries, and to experience treatments that often made them appear worse before they looked better.")
Std test nearby Anacoco. 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 usage of identifiable men in the context 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 the usage of such pictures 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 nearest Louisiana. I don't have any issue with the display of pictures in a historic context, as without this folks do not comprehend what war can do."
Should we restrict accessibility to upsetting digital images to people 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 contemporary medical display, has an argument to the contrary. The NLM's digital collections have lately posted a series of hushed medical movies from between 1929 and 1945 , a few of which symbolize what Sappol calls challenging subjects": leprosy, electroshock, schizophrenia. Sappol mentions, in particular, this 1929 picture made at Cook County Hospital in Chicago , which shows four kids that are dying of rabies. The patients convulse, struggle, bleed from the mouth; they are inconsolable, even as offer them water or gloved adult hands reach from off screen to hold them.
Sappol doesn't believe it should be the job of the librarian or archivist to decide that the people can not handle looking at pictures that are such. 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 subjects and arrogate to myself the job of being some sort 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 movie ... appear like they surely do not consent to the procedure, also it's disturbing to see. I could say 'This man does not want 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 argues, is not black, but simply human.
The problem is further complicated by the fact that visibility is preferred by some subjects. This is the situation with the Thalidomide Trust archive, which features medical case files on individuals born 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 perspectives of thalidomiders themselves on what should happen with their case files fluctuate widely, but some definitely want their files and pictures made available for research as a purposeful act to open up debate."Of course, there's no means to ask the patients whose bodies appear in The Sick Rose whether they'd prefer to be observed or remain hidden. Nevertheless, the modern case of thalidomide reveals that we shouldn't presume that publication is tantamount to infringement.
Nor should we presume 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 also a digital historian committed to making her sources freely available. Anacoco LA Std Test. In 2010, Posner posted about the ethical quandary she faced when asked to collaborate on a slideshow of lobotomy photographs with a producer at NPR's show Science Friday. 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 finally went ahead with the Science Friday slideshow, reasoning that by asking viewers to take a second look at the before" images of patients, which Freeman presented for his own goals as broken," she might manage to show that these faces include more possibilities than Freeman ever saw." A commenter on Posner's place wrote that he had recently learned 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 really don't care if it's a graphic of him having this done I merely want 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?" It might have been considerably harder for the commenter to locate her, if Posner had not gone ahead with Science Friday; the link might not have been made. Std Test in Anacoco.
Finally, there is a religious argument for making such pictures available. LA, United States std test. Even if medical pictures may be misused, Michael Sappol says, I really don't need 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 are able to provide us with some kind of program of human suffering. ... Looking at them makes life richer and deeper." Barnett, despite his misgivings, agrees on this particular point: There's 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 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, pictures like those in the Sick Rose might remind us: This is the body, as well as 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 final book, Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), was composed as the Web was in the procedure for 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 may function---or fail to work---in a modern society," where space allowed for being serious is tough to come by." One wonders what she may have made of Pinterest if she thought that about novels, art galleries, and television.
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