News Release 

'A Picture of Health' pop-up exhibition

Scientists and artists collaborate to create pop-up exhibition in response to the phrase 'A Picture of Health'

MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences

[LONDON] Scientists and artists collaborate to create pop-up exhibition in response to the phrase 'A Picture of Health'.

A Picture of Health is a well-known phrase that conjures up a wide range of imagery and interpretations across communities and scientific disciplines.

The pop-up exhibition, held at Elephant West, White City, is the culmination of a collaborative art-science project between MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (MRC LMS) and UAL: Central Saint Martins.

The artwork created by five artist-scientist groups reflects current research topics that are vital to human health; past, present and future, such as antimicrobial resistance and infection, artificial intelligence and data science, environment, mental health: dementia, schizophrenia and trauma, and sleep. Science and art are often regarded as two distinct disciplines - this project gives a glimpse into the many ways science and art can intersect to develop new conclusions and interpretations.

The first steps in this collaborative path were taken back in June when the MRC LMS and Central Saint Martins hosted a workshop. This consisted of inspiring and provocative talks from researchers from the MRC LMS, Imperial College London, Brunel University, University of Westminster and University College London to stimulate and inform about each of the themes that are a part of the project. This was followed by facilitated discussions to allow the seeds of inspiration to be laid. From the submitted applications, five different artist groups, made up of students from the MA Art and Science and MA Fine Art courses at Central Saint Martins, were selected to produce pieces.

This pop-up exhibition is the latest event in a long and fruitful collaboration between the MRC LMS and Central Saint Martins. It aims to challenge visitor's perceptions of what 'A Picture of Health' is, enhance understanding of the health-related issues we are facing and the current state of research in those areas and explore whether art-science collaborations are an effective vehicle for starting these conversations with the public.

The 'A Picture of Health' pop-up exhibition aims to present visitors with familiar health terms and topics but visualised in a completely new way. Visitors can expect to see the usual still and peaceful process of sleep brought to life by visualising the data we can gain as we slumber, and how urban environments are impacting what a good night's sleep truly is. Dementia, schizophrenia and the psychological effects of trauma are perceived as individual "brain illnesses". Yet, at this pop-up, how these illnesses are categorised and the boundaries between health and illness will be challenged. With artificial intelligence becoming more and more commonplace in our society, it is only natural that we may become concerned about its uses, particularly in relation to health. Visitors will be able to enter a space and follow along the artists journey of learning and understanding within the field of machine learning and explore our relationship and trust in digital tracking software.

The artists and scientists involved in the collaborations include:

Mariana Heilmann - Central Saint Martins (artist)

Dr Enrique Castro-Sanchez - Department of Infectious Disease, Imperial College London

Lois Bentley - Central Saint Martins (artist)

Rose Meng-Mei - Central Saint Martins (artist)

Riko Yasumiya - Central Saint Martins (artist)

Jonny Jackson - Division of Imaging Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, King's College London

Phil Barton - Central Saint Martins (artist)

Dr Sibylle Emler - Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, Brunel University

Lottie Bolster - Central Saint Martins (artist)

Rosie Riley - Central Saint Martins (artist)

Teresa Bryne - Central Saint Martins (artist)

Katerina Shatalina - MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences

Dr Laura Madeley - Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital & Central Saint Martins (artist)

The private opening of the pop-up exhibition will be held on 18 November from 18:00-21:00 at Elephant West, White City followed by the exhibition for one day only on 19 November from 08:00-23:00. The exhibition is free to attend, but tickets need to be reserved via Eventbrite.

Exhibition details

Elephant West, 62 Wood Ln, White City, London W12 7RH

FURTHER INFORMATION

About the project (in brief)

  • A collaboration between MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and UAL: Central Saint Martins.
  • The vision of Dame Professor Amanda Fisher, Director MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences.
  • One day pop-up exhibition exploring topics that are vital to human health, past present and future.
  • Selected artist-scientist groups collaborated to produce artwork responding to the phrase A Picture of Health on the themes of :
    • Antimicrobial resistance
    • AI + health and heart data,
    • the Environment,
    • Mental health: dementia, schizophrenia and trauma
    • Sleep
  • Exploring the different collaborative processes between artists and scientists.

About the artworks

ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE AND INFECTION

Systems within Systems, is an interactive method to map different pathways through the complex and inter-connected web of factors that impact health. For this exhibition, Mariana Heilmann has collaborated with Dr Enrique Castro Sanchez to explore the global topic of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), focusing on the pivotal role that an individual plays within a bigger system.

This multi-faceted piece allows for exploratory interactions and workshops. Progressive engagement leads to new layers, each representing a new system and the subsystems that exist within them. Each layer is filled through interactive dialogue and analysis. One of the interactive pieces is designed to be written on, and subsequently rubbed out, allowing for multiple "journeys" of thought and analysis.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND BIG DATA

The artist group Threads (Lois Bentley, Rose Meng-Mei, Riko Yasumiya) have worked with doctoral student Jonny Jackson to look at machine learning in relation to health, specifically heart data. "Artificial intelligence is philosophy; machine learning is science" - scrutinising, unpicking and then exploring terminology has been the core of the development of these three pieces.

The robotic work Heart simulates heart beats, encouraging reflection on the data being collected in clinical settings, and whether it is a true and accurate reflection of our inner functioning and physiology.

Accuracy and Trust is an illustration depicting a dynamic between human and machine. This piece explores this relationship and our trust in digital tracking software and organisations.

By stepping into a 3D Piece, Threads have solidified their learning and interdisciplinary collaborative process. Dream-Catcher Machine creates a space for participants to enter, with images documenting the artist's journey of learning and understanding within the field of machine learning and data science.

THE ENVIRONMENT

Colourful prints by Phil Barton, reflect the insights that emerged through creative consultation and dialogue workshops with artists and scientists. A Deep Connection explores the analogy of the health of a human with the health of an urban tree.

MENTAL HEALTH: DEMENTIA, SCHIZOPHRENIA + TRAUMA

The Centre Cannot Hold (Lottie Bolster, Rosie Riley, Teresa Bryne) explores commonalities between three 'brain illnesses': dementia, schizophrenia and psychological effects of trauma.

Distortion, repetition and removal are all common attributes between these three illnesses. To convey these shared features each artist in the group has created three pieces on each of these 'illnesses', incorporating and visually representing these elements of distortion, repetition and removal. In visually depicting these similarities, they highlight and encourage conversations around the discrete categorisation of 'brain illnesses', the current dichotomy between psychological and biological, and the boundaries of illness and health.

SLEEP

Sleep is essential for health and ubiquitous across the animal kingdom, although its purposes and processes remain unclear.

A Good Night's Sleep uses data from an overnight sleep study, daily activity and light exposure. Laura Madeley has designed a print pattern that explores this sleep data as line, form, text and an imagined landscape. Laura Madeley explores the resemblance between sleep data and that of the skyline of an urban landscape, prompting questions of the impact of the urban lifestyle on sleep, and what a healthy sleep truly is.

A Good Night's Sleep is an immersive environment, inviting you to enter the artists bedroom. Embedded in every element of this relatable setting are sleep data-visualisation-landscapes using mixed media, print, textiles, and digital approaches.

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Contact information:

Lucy Brown
Engagement Project Manager
MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS)

Contact: lucy.brown@lms.mrc.ac.uk / geco@lms.mrc.ac.uk / 0208 383 4122

Notes to editors:

MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences is a core biomedical research Institute funded by the Medical Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation. Based in West London at the Hammersmith Hospital, it is a vibrant research environment in which scientists, clinicians and patients collaborate to advance the understanding of biology and its application to medicine. The LMS pursues world-leading discovery science, and aims to address major health challenges (such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer), investigate the interplay between genes and environment, and understand the molecular basis of disease, development and ageing. LMS research programmes are supported in their delivery of world-class science by state-of-the-art facilities. LMS research is focused in three sections: Epigenetics, Genes and Metabolism, and Quantitative Biology.

Central Saint Martins is part of University of the Arts London, an international centre for innovative teaching and research in arts, design, fashion, communication and the performing arts. The University is made up of six Colleges: Camberwell College of Arts, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion and Wimbledon College of Arts. Central Saint Martins is internationally renowned for the creative energy of its students, staff and graduates with an outstanding reputation for educating foundation, undergraduate, postgraduate and research students across art, design and performance. Fundamental to study at the College are experimentation, innovation, risk- taking, questioning and discovery, within a highly supportive learning environment. Alumni include: Matthew Collings, James Dyson, Gilbert and George, Anthony Gormley, Raqib Shaw, and Yinka Shonibare.

Elephant West is a repurposed petrol station that provides visual and intellectual fuel for the culturally curious. Elephant commissions an ambitious programme of career-defining installations and projects by emerging artists, filmmakers, designers and musicians, supporting the careers of exciting young creatives, as well as hosting a stimulating programme of events such as live music and dance performances, workshops, film screenings, stand-up comedy, retro-gaming nights, inspirational talks and yoga classes.

MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and Central Saint Martins The project builds upon a long and fruitful partnership between the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (formerly MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) and Central Saint Martins driven by Professor Dame Amanda Fisher's passion for collaborations between the sciences and the arts and creative industries to explore ways and means of engaging the public in science. Projects have included Fabrics of Life workshops on Epigenetics (2007), Model Organisms (2008) Evolution (2009), Synthetic & Systems Biology (2010) and Big Data (2014); Nobel Textiles (2008); NOBELini (2009); and Suffrage Science (2011-present).

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