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The experience of looking at The Sick Rose, which is a well-curated print presentation of pictures that are available digitally on the Wellcome Images site, raises questions about medical images that are historical, and when and in what media it's appropriate to see them. It is one thing to take a beautifully bound book apart into a silent armchair and have a one-on-one encounter with all with a dignified man with a bulbous, untreated pendant tumor, or the face of a baby wizened by tertiary syphilis. It is another to see the exact same faces flit by on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, in a jumble of other unrelated images and detached from the circumstance of Barnett -supplying scholarship.
Afflictions, the majority of which are now rare in the Western world organize the Sick Rose: gout, cholera, tuberculosis, advanced stages of syphilis. Online, the patients' anguish runs the risk of being seen as classic"---nearly comical in its terrible extremity and its distance from our own time. In a blog post about the procedure for assembling and later marketing The Sick Rose, Barnett acknowledged to a feeling of unease" about sending the images off into the whole world, worrying concerning 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 example, it was headlined Awesomely Gross Medical Illustrations From the 19th Century") Over Skype, Barnett told me: These are all pictures of something that occurred to someone somewhere. They're not visualized."
As historical medical pictures go digital, scholars and archivists are being forced to consider the benefits of disseminating the definitely important and fascinating record of the evolution of medical practice with issues that the images will be misunderstood and misused. Making the pictures accessible will almost certainly 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 flip side, digitization of the types of images that were once available only to researchers with the resources to travel to archives can do lots of great. Such visibility can raise consciousness about past wrongs, ease connections between historians as well as the families of former patients , even provide us with a new way to think about our own mortality. (Because there are excellent arguments on both sides, and because these medical images can be disturbing to some readers, we've chosen to set the photos we are printing with this particular article behind an electronic scrim, which allows you, the reader, to decide whether to see them.)
Here's one case that demonstrates how much such digitized pictures can slip away 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 necessitated maxillofacial surgery. Gillies commissioned photographers and artists to record his patients' presurgical injuries, using the pictures to plan his team's approach.
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 artwork that Hartley made with inspiration from these archives afterwards formed the foundation of an exhibition at the National Army Museum in London. The job, Hartley writes on his web site , was intended to explore the effect of veterans' wartime injuries and subsequent facial surgeries on their lives.
But the digital images had another life after the exhibition had closed. 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. One of many patients in the photographs, a pilot trainee, Henry Lumley, 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 an image of the BioShock character in question) Lumley and his fellow patients are now forced to roam about in virtual space, made into monsters for the entertainment of gamers.
Std Test in Epsom. Does this matter, given that many (most?) BioShock players WOn't ever understand who these men were in real life? Biernoff writes that British culture during the World War I perceived death in battle as glorious, but facial mutilation was seen as almost black---a fate worse than death"---and pictures of soldiers injured in this manner were censored, lest they decrease morale. So if gamers never understand the characters they are seeing on screen were once real men, it can still feel when they're trotted out as digitized monsters like these guys, ostracized in life, are being wronged again. Epsom, NH 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 folks in a computer game, gives us a peek into what life should have been like for folks who sustained such disfiguring injuries." (She adds: How brave these men were to permit themselves to be photographed with extensive injuries, and to get treatments that often made them appear worse before they appeared better.")
Std test near me Epsom. 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 context of the game was an appalling approach to treat the memory of veterans," Bamji wrote. He apologized and assured me that no additional such images would be utilized, and there the matter ended." Bamji drew a clear distinction between the use of such pictures in a job like BioShock, where they were disassociated from the names and stories of the patients, and Hartley's Project Faade. Std test closest to New Hampshire. I have no problem with the display of pictures in a historic context, as without this folks do not understand what war can do."
Should we confine access to upsetting digital images to folks 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 historical and contemporary medical display, has an argument to the contrary. The NLM's digital sets have lately posted a run of silent medical films from between 1929 and 1945 , some of which symbolize what Sappol calls hard issues": leprosy, electroshock, schizophrenia. Sappol mentions, in particular, this 1929 movie made at Cook County Hospital in Chicago , which shows four children who are dying of rabies. Struggle, the patients convulse, 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 occupation of the librarian or archivist to determine that the public can't handle looking at images that are such. We're stewards of these historical materials," he told me. They don't belong to us. They belong to everybody. ... I would not like to act on behalf of the areas and arrogate to myself the job of being some sort of policeman of 'who can view.' " With the NLM's electroshock therapy films from the 1930s, Sappol says, A Number of the people in this film ... look like they surely don't consent to the procedure, and it is upsetting to see. I really could say 'This individual does not want to be on camera, they're being humiliated.' But this is from. If we never get to see this, who gets to know?" The curiosity we feel about such images, he contends, is not shameful, but merely human.
The problem is further complicated by the fact that visibility is preferred by some subjects. This really is the case with the Thalidomide Trust archive, which includes medical case files on individuals produced 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 views of thalidomiders themselves on what should occur with their case files fluctuate widely, but some undoubtedly need their files and pictures made accessible for research as a deliberate act to open up disagreement."Of course, there's no way to ask the patients whose bodies appear in The Sick Rose whether they'd prefer to be observed or stay hidden. Nevertheless, the modern example of thalidomide shows that we should not assume that publication is tantamount to violation.
Nor should we assume 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 additionally a digital historian committed to making her sources publicly available. Epsom NH 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 operations.
But Posner ultimately 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 purposes as broken," she may have the capacity to reveal that these faces comprise more possibilities than Freeman ever saw." A commenter on the post of Posner wrote that he had lately discovered that his grandfather, lobotomized and who he'd never met, had been institutionalized in West Virginia, where Freeman did some of his work. The commenter wrote: I have never seen an image of my grandfather, never, ever, and I actually don't care if it is a picture of him having this done I merely desire and need to see a picture of him so MUCH. Can you tell me the way to get to these archives?" It might have been considerably harder for the commenter to locate her if Posner hadn't gone with Science Friday; the link mightn't have been made. Std test closest to Epsom.
Finally, there's a religious argument for making such images accessible. NH, United States std test. Even if medical pictures may be misused, Michael Sappol says, I really don't need that possibility to prevent these things that are really amazing files of the human encounter from being seen. ... We can learn from them, they are able to redeem us in some way. They are able to supply us with some kind of curriculum 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 is a power they have over us, and we've got to accept or honor 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 the body, and also the conclusion that we all come to."
However, a vanitas demands space for contemplation---a space the Web seems 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 photos of suffering could 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 reserved for being serious is difficult to come by." One wonders what she may have made of Pinterest if she thought that about art galleries, novels, and television.
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