Actual artistic research project (FWF: 2019-23) – The endeavor will explore the increasing shift of meaning of the hand in surgery caused by the application of digital technologies. The use of technological aids to enhance the physical capabilities of physicians leads to fundamental changes in the clinical practice and medical education. The act of healing itself, the relationships between patients and hospital personnel, are subjects to these transformations. Visceral Operations / Assemblage, based on the research Performing Surgery (2015-2018) on gestures of surgeons, aims at encountering this transition with the development of sensory ethnographic and arts-based approaches.
Therefore activities in the operating theater during minimally invasive interventions and classic open surgeries shall be observed, recorded, compared, and analyzed. Special attention shall be paid to tactile aspects of perception. Though the tactile is not solely related with touch but rather with the full complexity of human communication. In surgery nonverbal expressions, gestures and body language are immediately intertwined with the processes of healing. However currently gestures are primarily associated with manual manipulations of devices or screens, the concern in Visceral Operations refers to the acting hand as performing a deed that inaugurates something unprecedented. Thus hands shall be explored in regard of their remaining meaning in the frame of surgical treatment.
In order to tackle the question, which role hands still play in surgery and whether they will stay connected with the act of healing in the operating theater in the future, sensitive artistic procedures are required. Methodologically ethnographic fieldwork will be combined with designing textile works, experiments with silicone, resin and other material components, the development of spatial arrangements, drawing and filming. Visual artists and filmmakers, namely Barbara Graf, Philipp Fleischmann and trained sociologist Christina Lammer will constitute the key research team in this highly collaborative and process oriented examination. Objets trouvés and found footage shall be included. Therefore the Medical University Vienna and the Austrian Film Museum are valuable collaboration partners. Sutures between surgery and art are revealed in the handling. A process oriented approach is suggested. As a result body related assemblages emerge in order to express interpersonal dimensions within those common actions.
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