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The experience of looking at The Sick Rose, which is a well-curated print display of pictures that are accessible on the Wellcome Images site, raises questions about medical images that are historic, and when and in what media it's appropriate to view them. It is one thing to take a beautifully bound book aside into a silent armchair and have a one-on-one encounter with with a dignified man with a bulbous, untreated pendant tumour, or the face of a baby wizened by tertiary syphilis. It is another to see exactly the same faces detached from the context of Barnett and flit by on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, in a jumble of other unrelated images -providing scholarship.
The Sick Rose is organized by afflictions, most of which are now rare in the Western world: gout, cholera, tuberculosis, advanced stages of syphilis. On the Internet, the patients' anguish runs the risk of being seen as vintage"---almost funny in its horrible extremity and its space from our own time. In a blog post about the method of assembling and after promoting The Sick Rose, Barnett admitted to a sense of unease" about sending the pictures off into the entire world, worrying about the kitsch, understanding, and emptily ironized approach" that could greet the images. (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 aren't visualized."
As historical medical images go digital, scholars and archivists are being compelled to consider the benefits of disseminating the interesting and undoubtedly significant record of the progression of medical practice with concerns that the images will probably be misused and misunderstood. Making the images accessible will most likely lead to some tone-deaf uses and aspect at best---manipulating the shock value of an at body disfigured face or 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 great. Such visibility can raise consciousness about previous wrongs, ease links between historians and also the families of former patients supply us with a new approach to think about our own mortality. (Because there are good arguments on both sides, and because these medical images could be upsetting to some readers, we've chosen to set the photographs we're publishing with this particular article behind a digital scrim, which allows you, the reader, to choose whether to view them.)
Here's one instance that demonstrates how far such digitized pictures can steal 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 special component treating injuries that necessitated maxillofacial surgery. Gillies commissioned artists and photographers to record his patients' presurgical injuries, using the pictures to plan his team's approach.
These photographs 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 with inspiration from these archives after formed the basis of an exhibition at the National Army Museum in London. The endeavor, Hartley writes on his website , was intended to learn more about the effect of veterans' wartime injuries and following facial operations on their lives.
Following the exhibit had closed, but the digital images had another life. 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. One of many patients in the photographs, a pilot trainee, Henry Lumley, 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 of postoperative complications, at age 26. (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 roam about in virtual space, made into monsters for the entertainment of gamers.
Std Test near Stonewall. Does this matter, given that many (most?) BioShock players will never understand 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 nearly shameful---a fate worse than death"---and pictures of soldiers injured in this way were censored, lest they reduce morale. So if gamers never understand that the characters they're seeing on screen were once actual men, it can still feel like these guys, ostracized in life, are being wronged again when they're trotted out as digitized monsters. Stonewall, LA, 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 after comparable pictures are used to frighten folks in a computer game, gives us a peek into what life should have been like for individuals who endured such disfiguring injuries." (She includes: How courageous these men were to permit themselves to be photographed with extensive injuries, and to experience treatments that frequently made them look worse before they looked better.")
Std test nearest Stonewall. 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 the use of identifiable men in the circumstance of the game was an appalling method to treat the memory of veterans," Bamji wrote. He apologized and assured me that no further such pictures 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 nearest Louisiana. I have no problem with the display of images in a historic context, as without this people don't understand what war can do."
Should we confine 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 contemporary medical display, has an argument to the contrary. The NLM's digital sets have lately posted a series of silent medical movies from between 1929 and 1945 , some of which represent what Sappol calls challenging subjects": 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. Fight, 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 think it should be the occupation of the librarian or archivist to determine that the public can't handle looking at such pictures. 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 areas and arrogate to myself the job of being some type of cop of 'who can view.' " With the NLM's electroshock therapy films from the 1930s, Sappol says, A Number of the men and women in this film ... appear like they surely don't consent to the procedure, plus it's upsetting to see. I 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 interest we feel about such images, he argues, isn't shameful, but simply human.
The matter is further complicated by the fact that some subjects prefer visibility. This really is the situation with the Thalidomide Trust archive, which features medical case files on folks produced 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 viewpoints of thalidomiders themselves on what should occur with their case files vary widely, but some undoubtedly want their files and images made available for research as a purposeful act to open up argument."Of course, there's no method 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 demonstrates 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 publicly accessible. Stonewall, LA std test. In 2010, Posner posted about the ethical quandary she faced when asked to collaborate on a slideshow of lobotomy pictures with a producer at NPR's show Science Friday. 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 ultimately went ahead with the Science Friday slideshow, reasoning that by simply asking audiences to choose a second look at the before" pictures of patients, which Freeman presented for his own purposes as broken," she may have the ability to reveal that these faces comprise more possibilities than Freeman ever saw." A commenter on the post of Posner wrote that he'd lately discovered that his grandfather, lobotomized and who he had never met, had been institutionalized in West Virginia. The commenter wrote: I haven't seen a picture of my grandpa, never, ever, and I really don't care if it is an image of him having this done I desire and merely want to see a picture of him so MUCH. Can you tell me how to get to these archives?" If Posner had not gone with Science Friday, it might have been considerably more challenging for the commenter to find her; the link might not have been made. Std Test near me Stonewall.
Finally, there's a religious argument for making such images available. LA, United States Std Test. Even if medical images may be abused, Michael Sappol says, I really don't want that chance to prevent these things that are really amazing files of the human experience from being seen. ... We can learn from them, they can 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 pictures, there is 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, pictures like those in the Sick Rose might remind us: This Is Actually the body, and also the end that we all come to."
Still, a vanitas requires space for contemplation---a space the Web appears ill to offer. Susan Sontag's final book, Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), was composed as the Web was in the process of scattering photos to the four winds. Sontag wrote that pictures of suffering might be a memento mori " and function as a still point around which to contemplate mortality. But she wondered how this could work---or fail to work---in a modern society," where space allowed for being serious is hard to come by." One wonders what she may have made of Pinterest if she believed that about art galleries, publications, and television.
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