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The experience of looking at The Sick Rose, which is a well-curated print presentation of pictures that are available on the Wellcome Images site, raises questions about historical medical images, and when and in what media it's appropriate 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 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 same faces flit by on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, in a jumble of other unrelated images and detached from Barnett's context -providing scholarship.
Afflictions, most of which are now rare in the Western world organize the Sick Rose: gout, cholera, tuberculosis, advanced phases of syphilis. Online, the patients' suffering runs the risk of being seen as classic"---almost comical in its dreadful extremity and its space from our own time. In a blog post about the process of assembling and after promoting The Sick Rose, Barnett acknowledged to a sense of unease" about sending the images away into the world, worrying about the kitsch, understanding, and emptily ironized approach" 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 aren't envisioned."
As historical medical images go digital, scholars and archivists are being compelled to consider the benefits of disseminating the certainly significant and interesting record of the development of medical practice with issues that the images will probably be misused and misunderstood. Making the pictures accessible will almost certainly cause some tone deaf uses 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 means to travel to archives can do plenty of great. Such visibility can raise awareness about past wrongs, facilitate the families of former patients and connections between historians provide us with a new strategy to think of our own mortality. (Because there are great arguments on either side, and because these medical images may be disturbing to some readers, we've chosen to set the photographs we are printing with this article behind an electronic scrim, which allows you, the reader, to decide whether to see them.)
Here's one instance 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 specific component treating injuries that demanded maxillofacial surgery. Gillies commissioned photographers and artists to document his patients' presurgical harms, using the images to plan the approach of his team.
These pictures ended up on the Web as a portion of a mid-2000s exhibit titled Project Faade (now archived through the Wayback Machine ). The job, 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 London's National Army Museum. The endeavor, Hartley writes on his website , was meant to explore the impact of veterans' wartime injuries and subsequent facial surgeries on their lives.
Following the exhibit had closed, but the digital images had another life. Some pictures from the Job 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 many patients in the photographs, a pilot trainee, lived with his injury 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 an image 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 closest to Toston. Does this issue, 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 nearly black---a fate worse than death"---and images of soldiers injured in this way were censored, lest they diminish morale. So even if gamers never realize that the characters they're seeing on screen were once real guys, it can nevertheless feel like these men, ostracized in life, are being wronged again when they're trotted out as digitized monsters. Toston MT, 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 later similar images are used to frighten people in a computer game, gives us a peek into what life must have been like for individuals who sustained such disfiguring injuries." (She includes: How brave these men were to permit themselves to be photographed with extensive injuries, and to undergo treatments that often made them seem worse before they appeared better.")
Std test near Toston. 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 using identifiable guys in the circumstance 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 pictures would be utilized, and there the matter ended." Bamji drew a clear distinction between the usage of such images in a project like BioShock, where they were disassociated from the names and stories of the patients, and the Project Faade of Hartley. Std Test near me Montana. I don't have any issue with the display of pictures in a historic context, as without this folks don't understand what war can do."
Should we confine access to upsetting digital images to individuals who we can be sure will see them in appropriate context? Michael Sappol , a historian at the U.S. National Library of Medicine who has written about historic and modern medical display, has an argument to the contrary. The NLM's digital collections have lately posted a number of hushed 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 picture made at Cook County Hospital in Chicago , which shows four kids that 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 public can not handle looking at such pictures. We're stewards of these historical materials," he told me. They do not belong to us. They belong to everybody. ... I wouldn't like to act on behalf of the subjects and arrogate to myself the occupation of being some sort of officer of 'who can view.' " With the NLM's electroshock therapy films from the 1930s, Sappol says, Some of the folks in this film ... look like they definitely do not consent to the process, also it is upsetting to see. I could say 'This person does not want to be on camera, they are being humiliated.' But this is from. If we never get to see this, who gets to understand?" The fascination we feel about such images, he contends, isn't shameful, 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 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 views of thalidomiders themselves on what should happen with their case files fluctuate widely, but some definitely want their files and images made available for research as a deliberate act to open up disagreement."Of course, there is no way to ask the patients whose bodies appear in The Sick Rose whether they would prefer to be observed or remain concealed. Nevertheless, the modern case of thalidomide shows that we shouldn't suppose that publication is tantamount to breach.
Nor should we presume 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 dedicated to making her sources publicly accessible. Toston MT Std Test. In 2010, Posner posted about the ethical quandary she faced when requested 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 patients his filmed before and after their operations.
But Posner finally went ahead with the Science Friday slideshow, reasoning that by asking audiences to take a second look at the before" images of patients, which Freeman presented for his own motives as broken," she might have the capacity to reveal that these faces contain more options than Freeman ever saw." A commenter on Posner's place wrote that he had recently learned that his grandpa, who he'd never met, had been institutionalized and lobotomized in West Virginia. The commenter wrote: I have not seen a picture of my grandfather, never and I actually don't care if it is a picture 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?" It might have been considerably more challenging for the commenter to find her if Posner hadn't gone ahead with Science Friday; the connection mightn't have been made. Std test near Toston.
Eventually, there is a religious argument for making such images available. MT United States std test. Even if medical images might be abused, Michael Sappol says, I really don't desire that possibility to prevent these things that are actually amazing records of the human experience from being seen. ... We can learn from them, they can redeem us in some way. They can supply us with some type of program of human suffering. ... Looking at them makes life richer and deeper." Barnett, despite his misgivings, concurs on this particular point: There's a power behind these images, there's a power they have over us, and we have to accept or respect this at some point." He compares the images 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 Actually the body, and also the end that we all come to."
Still, a vanitas needs space for contemplation---a space the Web seems ill prepared to offer. Susan Sontag's final book, Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), was composed as the Web was in the method of scattering photos to the four winds. Sontag wrote that photographs of suffering could be a memento mori " and serve as a still point around which to contemplate mortality. But she wondered how this might work---or fail to work---in a modern society," where space reserved for being serious is tough to come by." One wonders what she might have made of Pinterest if she thought that about television, novels, and art galleries.
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