Art, Science, and Health
In the current state of emergency concerning welfare, AM Journal of Art and Media Studies seeks to gather a body of contemporary critical theory and progressive new media art practices contextualizing health in its broadest sense. Authors were invited to submit proposals that approach contemporary art, science, and health as intertwining factors and that address some of the prevailing challenges humanity is facing. Suggested, but not exclusive topics, were those associated with personal and social healthcare, environmental balance, physical malady, mental disorder, well-being discourses, healing and care-practices, human and non-human relations from the perspective of health humanities, genetically engineered reproduction, as well as ethical issues in aging and end of life.
In a time saturated with lethal pathogens, non-holistic biomedical experimentation allows a limited approach to the understanding of health. What is the meaning of being healthy and not being healthy? What are the norms and standards of health through different times and cultures? What are the ethical issues regarding scientific research in the name of human health? What are the repercussions of a so-called vigorous and sick body? Within the health narrative it becomes imperative the extension towards broader concepts such as: biopolitics of dying and surviving, human rights, medical science and alternative medicine, health technologies relating to enhancement mechanisms and design prosthetics, genetics and bioethics, big science and citizen science, activism and environmental practices, pharmacology and symbolic rituals of care, containment and contamination, patient profiling, disease management, identity and surveillance. The selected articles for this issue are researching art, science, and health from the aspects of history and contemporaneity, social justice, care and biomedia art.
The initial two articles delve into the historical connection between art and science, particularly in the realm of biopolitics and anatomy. This approach uncovers the historical ties between art and science and illustrates the intricate interplay between historical and contemporary art, science, and health. In “Functional and Dysfunctional Relations of Art, Science, and Health” Miško Šuvaković explores the interplay between historical and contemporary art, science, and health within the realms of politics, ethics, and aesthetics, emphasizing the critical analysis of biopolitical and necropolitical dynamics through modern artistic research. It aims to highlight art's potential to challenge ethical norms, raise questions about universal ethics, and examine the boundaries of medical morality and ethics. Angelina Milosavljević’s article “Early Modern Art and Science: Simulation of Dissections in the 16th Century Fugitive Sheets” explores how during the 15th century, anatomy became a part of art education, leading artists to contribute to anatomical research through intricate graphic representations, notably the volumetric anatomical fugitive sheets. These artists collaborated closely with scientists, introducing interactive methods to translate complex information into accessible models, as seen in works such as Andrea Vesalius's “De humani corporis fabrica” (1543) and Johann Remmelin's “Catoptri Microcosmici” (1609).
The following three articles share a common theme of addressing social justice issues within the domain of healthcare, demonstrating their interconnectedness through a focus on equitable and fair access to health services and resources. Dubravka Đurić’s article “Gender Critique of The Scientific and Medical Construction of the Female Body in Women’s Artworks” presents a gender critique of scientific and medical depictions of the human body and its health, emphasizing the ideological construction and biopolitical control of gender differences. It examines the historical dialogue between medicine, feminism, and art, delineating three phases in Western medical discourses and their interplay with representations of female bodies, as illustrated through the works of artists such as Hannah Wilke, Katarzyna Kozyra, and Orlan. Hege Tapio and Ingvil Hellstrand’s article “Caring Futures?” is elaborating on the art exhibition “Caring Futures” at Sølvberget gallery in Stavanger, Norway, exploring the evolving concepts of care, humanity, and vulnerability in the context of advancing technology and contemporary healthcare, particularly in Nordic welfare states. Through artworks addressing ethical issues in aging and themes of enhancement, genetics, and bioethics, the exhibition aimed to prompt reflections on how technology influences our perceptions of the human body and societal norms. Jane Prophet, Rahbel Rahman and Afton L. Hassett, in their article “An Online Photovoice Study Designed by Researchers from Art and Social Work to Better Understand the Experience of Chronic Pain by Women of Color”, address a sensitive topic of social justice through the practice of British feminist artist-photographer Jo Spence. She challenged medicalized representations of female cancer patients through her phototherapy, leading hospitals to acknowledge the need for changes in medical practices and attitudes towards patients. Similarly, Photovoice, a participatory design method, has been effectively used in health settings to empower patients, particularly in addressing gender and race-related health disparities in chronic pain treatment, emphasizing health equity as a crucial aspect of social justice.
Aspects of care, whether through nursing practices or personal empowerment, in the context of healthcare and well-being, is the topic of the next two articles. The study of Shohib Bashir and Binod Mishra “Care to Cure: Voices of Sick Bodies in the film The Good Nurse (2022)” reflects on the deteriorating positions of patients despite receiving appropriate medical treatment, emphasizing the critical role of nursing. Referencing Lydia Hall's ‘Care, Cure, and Core’ theory, it examines how nursing practices can influence patient well-being and underscores the importance of trust within the healthcare system, drawing on the narrative of the film The Good Nurse to highlight the complexities and virtues of nursing professionalism in improving patient recovery. Lyndsey Walsh in “Self-Care: Seeking Queer Liberation from the Medical Gaze and Genetic Fatalism”, addresses the transformative impact of genetic diagnostics on perceptions of health, particularly in relation to the concept of genetic risk and its implications for individuals with identifiable genetic differences. Walsh discusses the artwork "Self-Care," which embodies the artist’s resistance to the medical gaze and explores themes of health, gender, and identity through a narrative that challenges traditional boundaries between sickness and health, male and female, and parent and child, aiming to stimulate critical self-reflection on the nature of self-care and caregiving.
The final contribution from artist Adam Zaretsky is showcasing his experimental biomedia art practice. The “Transgenic Embryo Implantation. Excerpts from The Life Cycle of The Programmed Mouse, an Art and Biology Residency in an Experimental Animal Production and Research Facility” focuses on chronicles of bioart residency at the i3S transgenic mouse production facility in Porto, Portugal, highlighting the purposes of breeding genetically modified mice for medical research. It outlines the various hands-on experiences and software studies conducted during the residency, emphasizing the artistic exploration of the facility's operations and its connection to broader fields like medical anthropology and science technology studies.
Guest Issue Editors
Dalila Honorato, Olga Majcen Linn, Sunčica Ostoić
On the cover: Adam Zaretsky and AI collaboration: Transgenic Embryo Implantation. Excerpts from The Life Cycle of The Programmed Mouse, an Art and Biology Residency in an Experimental Animal Production and Research Facility.