This series of public events, taking place in international settings, investigate the new ethical issues arising from art and science collaboration and consider the roles and responsibilities of the artists, scientists and institutions involved. At each event (before a live audience) an internationally known artist will propose an artwork to a specially formed ethics committee (following the rules and procedures typical for the host country), the ethics committee will then debate the proposal and come to a decision, the artist will then be informed of the ethics committee’s decision and, alongside the audience, they can enter into a discussion about the result. The proposals have been selected as they raise interesting questions for science ethics committees and will help reveal the mechanisms that drive this usually hidden process, enabling the wider public to understand the driving forces behind ethical decisions and the role of artists working in scientific settings more deeply. The project “Trust Me I’m an Artist: Towards an Ethics of Art/Science Collaboration” is led by artist Anna Dumitriu in collaboration with Professor Bobbie Farsides (Chair of Ethics, Brighton and Sussex Medical School) in collaboration with Waag Society, Leiden University and BioSolar Cells.
Event 2: “Self-Experimentation” and the Ethics Committee of 1 with Neal White
The event took place at Friday 27th January 2012, 7-9:30pm at The Arts Catalyst, 50-54 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1M 5PS
Anna Dumitriu introduces the project “Trust Me I’m an Artist: Towards an Ethics of Art/Science Collaboration” on which she is lead artist.
Neal White works across media, and in no particular medium at all – creating projects with the Office of Experiments that develop collaborative, social and critical spaces using art methods and art materials. His work operates along the fine line between how art thinks and the effect that art has as a social practice. He has been associated with 0+1, formerly APG, Artists’ Placement Group, for several years. Maintaining that art has always pushed the boundaries of the possible in terms of models of social collaboration and networking, his work looks at how these models can engage with other kinds of knowledge producing structures. Neal White is an Associate Professor in Art and Media Practice, The Media School, Bournemouth University. He is also a Research Fellow at Chelsea College of Art and Design (UAL) where he works with Critical Practice Research cluster.
The historical scene:
May 1959 on the opening of Yves Klein’s exhibition Le Vide (The Void) at Gallery Iris Clert in Paris. Crowds thronged as Yves opened his highly controversial exhibition – that featured a seemingly empty white gallery space. Those lucky enough to gain access, were in for an unexpected treat.
“Special blue cocktails were served: a mixture of gin, Cointreau and methylene blue prepared for Klein by La Coupole, the famous brasserie. As Klein intended, the cocktails caused the urine of drinkers to turn blue for about a week, roughly the planned run of the show.”
Since this event took place in 1959, Methylene blue as a stain has been established as toxic. However, it is also a component in several medications (Trac Tabs, Urised, Uroblue) used to reduce symptoms of cystitis, and in other forms for the treatment of methemoglobinemia.
It is our intention to re-create the event as an experiment to establish what are the safest, or least toxic dosage of methylene blue in an alcoholic cocktail required to turn urine blue, if only for a limited period. The effect of this will be monitored, and the dosage will be controlled during the trial.
The setting of the trial is a gallery – the visitor becomes a consensual participant - an informed Self –Experimenter. In a managed process of consensual participation, the visitor is faced with a choice to consume an artwork that contains the ingredients of Methylene – with only the clinical information. Or to keep the artwork they are given as an intact form, signed by the artist.
The experiment is proposed on the one hand as a rational and logical approach to create a cultural experiment on the basis of a clinical trial under closely monitored conditions. On the other hand it is proposed as a challenge to the limits and practices of ethics as articulated across art and science practice - in its engagement with the politics of consent, belief and institutions themselves.
Proposed for the deregulated spaces at the service of art and life itself, our aim is to question the physical site of an artwork, the scale of an artwork and our willingness to commit beyond the visual to an embodied experience of art. Our hunch, based anecdotal approach, is that pharmacological research is also a dimension of experience not limited to science, edging us inward from the visible toward the teetering edge of the void.
Professor Bobbie Farsides (Chair)
Bobbie Farsides is Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Her research is focussed on the experience of health care professionals operating in morally contested areas of biomedicine. She has conducted research and contributed to policy relating to organ donation ante-natal screening and testing, reproductive technologies, palliative care and issues around death and dying. Bobbie is Deputy Director of the Wellcome Trust funded LABTEC Centre (London and Brighton Translational Research Centre) and she was founding Co-Editor of the Royal Society of Medicine’s journal Clinical Ethics. In collaboration with her colleague Sue Eckstein she is currently developing a series of events at BSMS under the heading Ethics in Performance to engage audiences with ethical issues through performance and art. bsms.ac.uk/research/our-researchers/bobbie-farsides/
Professor Michael Parker
Michael Parker is Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Ethox Centre at the University of Oxford. His main research interest is in the ethics of collaborative global health research. Together with partners in Viet Nam, Malawi, Thailand-Laos, Kenya, and South Africa he co-ordinates the Global Health Bioethics Network which is a programme to carry out ethics research and build ethics capacity across the MOPs. Michael also leads the ethics programme of the Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network (MalariaGEN) - malariagen.net - which carries out genomic research into severe malaria in childhood at 24 sites in 21 countries. Michael’s other main research interest is in the ethical aspects of genetics. Since 2001, he has co-ordinated the Genethics Club - a national ethics forum for health professionals and genetics laboratory staff to discuss the ethical issues arising in their day-to-day practice and to share good practice. A book about the genethics club, Ethical Problems and Genetics Practice, has just been published by Cambridge University Press.
Professor Bob Brecher
Bob Brecher teaches philosophy at the University of Brighton, UK, and is Director of its Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics & Ethics. He has published over sixty articles in moral theory, applied ethics and politics, healthcare and medical ethics, sexual politics, terrorism and the politics of higher education. His Torture and the Ticking Bomb (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007) is a systematic refutation of arguments in favour of torture ‘in extremis’. He serves on an NHS REC, chairs his university’s Faculty of Arts REC and teaches research ethics.
Dr Julian Sheather
Dr Julian Sheather (PhD) is Deputy Head of Ethics at the British Medical Association. His particular interests lie in mental health and mental capacity, in consent and capacity issues in relation to children and young people and in public health ethics. He is the BMA’s policy lead on resource allocation within the NHS. He is a co-author of Medical Ethics Today, the BMA’s handbook on medical ethics and law, and is a regular contributor to the British Medical Journal and The Journal of Medical Ethics. He sits on the British Medical Journal’s ethics committee and the Institute of Medical Ethics. He lectures widely both nationally and internationally on a range of topics in medical ethics.
Professor Richard Faragher
Richard Faragher is Professor of Biological Gerontology at the University of Brighton and is Chair of both the British Society for Research on Ageing and the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology. His primary research interest is in the fundamental mechanisms controlling ageing. He has been awarded the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Medal for scientific achievement, the Help the Aged ‘Living Legend’ award and the Paul F Glenn Award for research into the biological mechanisms of ageing. He currently serves on a variety of funding and advisory panels and the editorial boards of several leading journals dealing with the biology of ageing.
Helen Sloan is Director of SCAN, a networked organisation and creative development agency working on arts projects and strategic initiatives in arts organisations, academic institutions and further aspects of the public realm. Helen’s career spans over twenty years during which she has curated, commissioned and convened over 200 exhibitions, new works, and events. She has written and researched a number of key strands in digital arts including wearable technologies, the intersection between art and science, and arts policy. She has directed festivals such as Across Two Cultures in Newcastle 1996 (an early event on the overlapping practice of creative thinking in arts and science), Metapod, Birmingham 2001 - 2, and Bournemouth’s Public Domain 2010. Current areas of interest are digital arts and place; high-speed networks and online resources/spaces; climate change and the arts.
The Arts Catalyst:
The Arts Catalyst is of the UK’s most distinctive arts commissioning organisations, distinguished by ambitious artists’ commissions that experimentally and critically engage with science. In its 17 years, The Arts Catalyst has commissioned more than 90 artists’ projects, including major new works by Tomas Saraceno, the Otolith Group, Critical Art Ensemble, Jan Fabre, Aleksandra Mir, James Acord, Marcel.li Antunez Roca, Beatriz da Costa, Yuri Leiderman, Kira O’Reilly and Marko Peljhan, and produced numerous exhibitions, events, performances and publications, collaborating with major arts, science and academic organisations in the UK and internationally. In 2011, The Arts Catalyst opened a project space in Clerkenwell, London, where it runs a programme of screenings, talks, workshops and other events, bringing together people from different disciplines to reflect and create new ideas and alternative perspectives on science and culture.
Trust me, I'm an Artist Team Biographies
Anna Dumitriu is an artist whose work is concerned with the ethical implications of new technologies, and blurs the boundaries between art and science. Her installations, interventions and performances use a range of digital, biological and traditional media including live bacteria, interactive media and textiles. Her work has a strong international exhibition profile and is held in several major public collections, including the Science Museum in London. She was a member of the e-MobiLArt project (the EU funded European Mobile Lab for Interactive Art) and Artist in Residence/Visiting Research Fellow since 2007 at The Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics at Sussex University. She is known for her work as director of “The Institute of Unnecessary Research”, a group of artists and scientists whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries and critiques contemporary research practice. She is currently working on a Wellcome Trust funded art project entitled “Communicating Bacteria”, collaborating as a Visiting Research Fellow: Artist in Residence with the Adaptive Systems Research Group at The University of Hertfordshire (focussing on social robotics) and Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence on the on the UK Clinical Research Consortium Project “Modernising Medical Microbiology” (looking at whole genome sequencing of bacteria) at the University of Oxford. unnecessaryresearch.org and normalflora.co.uk
Professor Bobbie Farsides (ethicist) is Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Her research is focussed on the experience of health care professionals operating in morally contested areas of biomedicine. She has conducted research and contributed to policy relating to organ donation ante-natal screening and testing, reproductive technologies, palliative care and issues around death and dying. Bobbie is Deputy Director of the Wellcome Trust funded LABTEC Centre (London and Brighton Translational Research Centre) and she was founding Co-Editor of the Royal Society of Medicine’s journal Clinical Ethics. In collaboration with her colleague Sue Eckstein she is currently developing a series of events at BSMS under the heading Ethics in Performance to engage audiences with ethical issues through performance and art. bsms.ac.uk/research/our-researchers/bobbie-farsides/
Download the ethics form Neal White completed here: dl.dropbox.com/u/7574350/VoidEthicsFormNW.doc
Plus the previous proposal as discussed at the event here: dl.dropbox.com/u/7574350/NIMR%20Art%20clinical%20trial1.doc
For more information on "Trust me, I'm an artist: towards an ethics of art/science collaboration" and to find out about all the other events, see artscienceethics.com
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