Living in Sim, is a series of photographs, video and an online blog that explores the complex relationship of three things; the use of technology to connect and improve our lives, the increasing mistrust of the health care industry, and the role of simulation in medicine and online communities–which operates at the cross section of real and virtual.
I am currently being hosted by the Center for Medical Simulation in Cambridge, MA and Living in Sim will be a product of my artist-in-residency at CMS. The residency’s intention is to create environments for practicing physicians, residents, and emergency teams that are realistic down to the fine detail. Except for the patient, who happens to be a mannequin. The mannequin is capable of not only having an actor speak through them, but can exhibit correlating symptoms such as blood pressure changes, blocked passageways, and can undergo procedures such as receiving catheters, intubation, and resuscitation. However CMS is not about training clinical skills, rather they stage cases that probe the limits of human and medical communication. In this context the scenarios involve the chain of events that lead to medical error or the conflicts that arise in a hospital setting. These are worked through and resolved in a post-scenario debriefing.
Bearing this model in mind my project intends to engage the viewer with the mannequins as if they were real characters, beyond just their roles in the medical simulations. I intend to make a series of photographs and video that express that concept by depicting them in scenes that present them as “just like us”, and to create an online community for them. In this community they share their worldview, their hopes and aspirations, their gripes and complaints. Within the general narrative there are moments, or “breakout situations”, which behave like scenarios, raising questions and conflicts that require resolution. Such situations are intended to explore ethical issues in medicine, medical error and apology, patient confidentiality, or insurance companies affect on healthcare. The purpose of this is to use the mannequins as surrogates for the patient, the clinician, the educator, and the bystander. Each mannequin has a developed character with a different writer penning each of his or her blog entries from that character’s point of view, and in conversation with the other mannequins. The blog has a scripted framework, but is open to how the mannequins respond and the public comments it may receive.
The purpose of the blog and its accompanying visual material is twofold. One goal is to create an experimental, artful and public-minded platform for raising issues in medicine and healthcare with a playful, yet informative manner. The other purpose is to have the mannequins offer up their lives as cultural content, intertwining their fictions with the facts, the artificial with the real, and mirroring the ambiguous nature of much online content in order to forge a meaningful relationship between identity, technology, and medicine in our society.