Are we our diseases? Is the world a petri dish incubating the source of its ultimate destruction?
Screened For is an algorithm-based video that displays fear of the viral, of the microbial and of
impending pandemics in a new light. The artist is depicted wearing protective mouth and nose masks
painted with an array of microbial infectious diseases such as Malaria, Tuberculosis, SARS and West
Nile Virus. With eyes peering out tentatively, the viewer is confronted with questions: are the very
devices we employ to protect ourselves providing the safety we need when faced with the rampant
spread of infections and disease? What constitutes true protection? Can disease be truly beautiful?
Ultimately, Screened For asks viewers to consider that fear and beauty reside in an uncomfortable
dialectic, in this precarious time of contagions, epidemics and bioterrors.
Screened For takes inspiration from several scientific disciplines, including clinical microbiology,
infectious diseases, epidemiology and public health. Whittaker’s colourful re-interpretations of science
illustrations, traditionally used to depict pathogenic imagery, preserve a long established link between
art and science. The artist brings elements of health science to Screened For by using standard
protective equipment as a canvas for her work. Wearing each mask, allows for a physical association
between pathogens and diseases, rather than focusing on their symptoms. The very foundation of
health related research is conceptually addressed in this artwork, which confronts a universal fear of
our own mortality.