Ever since the digital revolution in life sciences and the vast new international open science movement, many citizen scientists, makers, artists and designers have been collaborating to develop affordable tools that could revolutionize the field of biology, diagnostic guidance, medicine practice and access to healthcare. Meanwhile, the development of variants for experimentation, iterative design and creation, has paved the way for new forms of art practices: experimenting with portable ultrasound imaging, webcam microscopy, surgery robotics, prostheses, microfluidics devices, monitoring of vital signs, etc. Artists — from the fields of performance art, new media art, speculative design, bioart and body art — are engaging with these new media.
Medical professionals, living labs and open science communities who have worked with artists to co-design and prototype new medical tools, appreciate their creative mindsets, as well as their unique approaches to raising issues of equity in access to healthcare and discussing ethical values. But these collaborations are fragile, and methodologies and artworks that might otherwise emerge often still have difficulty in finding appropriate production contexts.
Some questions emerge:
- How should art dealing with such complex issues within health and medical research be produced and presented today?
- How can we share good practices and methodologies for cross-disciplinary collaboration between artists and the medical world?
- How can we consolidate and broaden the networks of contemporary cultural operators dealing with health and medical research?
- How can we reach a wider audience? How can art make the wider public more aware of the need to improve access to healthcare?
In order to address these questions, we formed a consortium: the Art4Med project. Five partners from five EU countries unite around their common interest to experiment and carry out methodologies where 'art meets open science and technology in health and medical research'. Waag will be working together with Art2M, Makery in Paris, Bioart Society in Helsinki, Labae in Copenhagen and Kersnikova Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana.
The image included with this project is part of the art installation UNBORN0X9 by the Future Baby Production Collective, exploring the cyborg future of parenting. Read more.