Students from MAAS and MAFA collaborated on a project with the Medical Research Council (MRC) funded London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS). The project was designed and run by Dr Jenna Stevens-Smith and Lucy Brown.
It began with a workshop on 20th June 2019 hosted at LMS where researchers associated with the institute presented their research into 6 key themes; Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection, Diet and Lifestyle, Genetics and Assistive Technologies, Mental Health and Dementia, Environment and Ageing, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. The workshop enabled round-table discussion of these topics between mixed groups of artists, scientists, and artist facilitators. The workshop aim was to link artists and scientists who were interested in working together to create an art project with one of the themes as a focus. Discussions were varied and highlighted areas both of overlap in interest, and differences of opinion around these different themes of research and the approaches that were used, spanning ethics and different perspectives of evidence and experience in art and science. Following the workshop, artists were invited to submit proposals for a piece of work to be produced for a future showcase event. Proposals submitted were selected by a panel of staff from the LMC, with access facilitated to scientists to support discussion and facilitation of work.
Current and former MAAS / MAFA Students participating in the project individually or in groups included Phil Barton (Ageing and Environment), Mariana Heilmann (Antimicrobial Resistance), Teresa Byrne, Lottie Bolster & Rowan Riley (Dementia & Mental Health), Rose Mengmei, Lois Bentley, and Riko Yasumiya (Artificial Intelligence & Big Data), and Laura Madeley (Sleep /Diet & Lifestyle).
Interim work by the artists was presented at a crit event on 27th September 2019 attended by scientist collaborators, artist-facilitators, and members of the LMS. Feedback was provided on the direction of the work with suggestions for future development of the work at the final showcase. Again, discussions highlighted the similarities and differences in how methods of science and art approach a brief, and how creative ideas can emerge and take different directions from an initial proposal. These ideas were further developed following viewing of a gallery space at Elephant West. Proposals for the final projects were developed with the gallery’s curator, Gareth Meredith and project manager, Lucy Brown for a final exhibition.
The artists’ final work was exhibited at a showcase event on the 18th November 2019 at Elephant West’s project space and cultural hub. Works presented included a range of materials and techniques including woodcuts, ceramics, stitch, textiles, etching, and physical computing and arduino to create prints, paintings and interactive installations. The pop-up exhibition was well attended, with the audience hearing brief talks by artists on their work within the gallery space, interviewed by one of the project facilitators. The opening event was followed the next day with workshops hosted by the artists attended by local community groups. A tour of the exhibition was followed by creative sessions informed by the methods and themes artists had used in their work including collage, drawing and printmaking.
The work was showcased again at the Science Museum as part of the Art & Science themed Lates Event, where work was installed for another pop-up and artists ran workshops and spoke to the public about their work.
The series of events was completed with a London Laser talk event where artists participating in the project spoke about the process of collaboration in an event alongside artists working in the healthcare field, creative producers, and staff from CSM and LMS.
Systems within Systems: Mapping Pathways.
Systems Within Systems is a thinking tool.
It is an interactive method to map pathways through the complex and inter-related web of factors that affect health. For this exhibition, this method is being used to explore the global topic of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), in particular, the important part that the individual plays in the bigger picture.
In collaboration with Dr. Enrique Castro Sanchez (Imperial College London), the method has been adapted for the purpose of running workshops with local school children. The featured pathway is intended to promote awareness and empowerment around the topic of keeping healthy (thereby avoiding antibiotics).
Progressively, each layer represents a system and the subsystems that exist within it. Through dialogue and analysis, each layer is filled. The wipe-able blackboard material allows for multiple “journeys” of thought and analysis.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Laura chose the topic of sleep for this project because although it is essential for our health and survival, many of its mechanisms remain a mystery. Clinical and translational research explores multiple factors that regulate our sleep, and what happens when these processes become disregulated.
Alongside this, there is public health interest in sleep, in part because the relationship between sleep and health is circular; poor sleep can be both cause and consequence of other health problems including physical and mental health difficulties. Sleep is also something we can easily take for granted, or restrict, by living in a 24/7 society, if we don’t recognise its importance for our health and wellbeing.
The work for A Good Night’s Sleep was developed using data from Laura’s personal overnight sleep study (Polysomnography – “PSG”). Polysomnography enables sleep technologists and clinicians to understand the quality and quantity of an individual’ sleep in a clinical setting, and makes the invisible processes of sleep visible. This dataset includes electroencephalography EEG, heart rate, blood oxygenation and Electrocardiogram (ECG). Working with it enabled conversations with medical technologists, and clinicians about how PSG data is used in diagnosis.
A Deep Connection: Urban Trees and Health Human Health in Cities
A Picture of Health depends on human beings living in harmony with the life support systems sustaining us – the air we breath, the water we drink, the food we eat, the weather we experience as well as the economics that support us, the culture that nourishes us, the medicine that treats us and the rights that we enjoy. Individuals are an integral part of complex systems – and so are the trees.
A Deep Connection was made in creative dialogue with scientists working on Diet and Lifestyle, the Health of Trees and Environmental Impacts & Ageing and Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection.
Initially supplying medical and environmental research papers Phil Barton then held two creative workshops to consider the scientific similarities and differences of a picture of health for people and urban trees. Together they brainstormed, wrote poetry, drew and deliberated. Many elements of the finished artwork reflect these interactions.
The Centre Cannot Hold
Lottie Bolster, Rowan Riley, Teresa Zerafa Byrne
‘The Centre Cannot Hold’ is a joint work produced by artists Lottie Bolster, Rowan Riley and Teresa Zerafa Byrne, in response to Professor Oliver Howe’s, talk on representations of mental illness, with focus on psychosis, in the popular press.
Composed of nine mixed media canvases, the piece uses metaphor to explore common threads between three seemingly disparate ‘conditions’: dementia, schizophrenia and effects of trauma. In doing so it calls the viewer to consider their assumptions around common categorisations: health vs illness, neurological vs psychological and different diagnostic labels.
Held in the Gaze: consists of three artworks – Heart, Dream-Catcher, Accuracy &Trust
Held in the Gaze, is a response to the phrase “A Picture of Health” by three artists for whom health and conversations about it are central to their practice. By investigation and art-making they seek to bring insights from current research in the medical field, that involve machine learning and link to the rich history of diverse ‘ways of knowing’. Under the theme of Big data and Artificial Intelligence, their anchor for a Picture of Health is how we are seen as patients and when computer representations of ourselves are central to a clinical consultation.
Held in the Gaze consists of three pieces: Heart; Accuracy and Trust and Dream-Catcher Machine, exploring the medical and algorithmic gaze.
Heart is a robotic work simulating a heart beat. It examines whether medical diagnostic imaging tools truly represent our internal physiology.
Accuracy and Trust explores the tension between the need of greater data for accuracy, and our trust in the system collecting it.
Dream-Catcher Machine creates a space for participants to enter, with images gathered from the artists’ learning journey with doctoral student Jonny Jackson in the field of medical imaging and data science.
Held In The Gaze 2019-Lois Bentley, Riko Yasumiya, Rose Mengmei Zhou 5 Jonny Jackson
Held In The Gaze 2019- Lois Bentley, Riko Yasumiya, Rose Mengmei Zhou 5 Jonny Jackson