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© Yewande Okuleye

Projects funded by the Arts Health and Ethics Collective (AHEC) Seed Fund 2024

A pilot seed fund as part of the ‘Arts, Health and Ethics Collective’ was launched in November 2023. This seed fund invited applications from researchers and artists in full partnership, to collaborate on new and creative approaches to research questions across the Oxford Ethics and Humanities network. Seven projects have been funded in 2024 and are outlined here. We hope this fund will foster new ways of working across disciplines and encourage new creative methods and outputs. This work is in partnership with our local arts advisor, Fusion Arts.

Resonance of Mind

Sally Frampton (History of Medicine) and Yewande Okuleye (Poet and sound artist; incorporating poetry into workshop facilitation)

Resonance of Mind is an innovative arts-based research project that combines sound art installation, collective poetry writing and community-centred historical research to tackle the pervasive stigma surrounding mental health. This project aims to engage the public in a transformative dialogue, fostering empathy, understanding, and challenging preconceptions about mental health through a multisensory creative experience. Mental health stigma persists as a significant barrier to open conversations and compassionate understanding. Language is key to shaping our perceptions and perspectives about mental health and is often seeded by historically-embedded tropes and stereotypes. Drawing on methodologies from health humanities, poetry, narrative therapy and community history, this research asks if every day and medical language captures the essence of the anguish, complications, and humanity of mental health challenges.

AI and Podcasting

Hazem Zohny (Uehiro Centre, Philosophy dept.) and Rawz (lead artist; incorporating Hip Hop, music and poetry)

This project explores the innovative intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the arts to transform how academic knowledge is disseminated and consumed. At its core, it investigates philosophical themes in ethical, practical, and technical implications of AI in healthcare, addressing crucial questions about patient privacy, the role of AI in augmenting or replacing healthcare professionals, and the potential impact on healthcare accessibility across socio-economic groups. The project's unique approach involves creating ‘synthetic podcasts’ that integrate AI-generated dialogues from academic content with music, particularly hip hop, to provide a multi-sensory learning experience. These novel applications can even clone the voices of the original authors, providing a more personalized and immersive listening experience. This blend of informative and narrative aspects with emotive and creative musical expressions aims to make academic discourse more engaging, accessible, and relatable.

Plant SynchroniCity: An immersive workshop on the ‘arts of noticing’ urban natures

Gabriela Pavarini (Ethox Centre, Ox Population Health dept.) and HedgePig (Elvina Crowe and Flora Campbell; incorporating nature-based workshop facilitation)

Departing from traditional perceptions of nature as external or separate to humans, our workshop challenges participants to witness the vital, interactive role of urban plants. The artistic duo HedgePig and Ethox researcher Dr Gabriela Pavarini will collaborate on planning and hosting an immersive workshop where participants collectively engage in ethical issues around plant subjectivity before using their senses to explore a London city farm. New audio technology called Plantwave, a device which translates plants’ live electrical signals into music, will enhance the sonic aspects. Drawing from research on multispecies ‘arts of noticing’ and on music as a coevolved system for social bonding, we hope that this project will enhance participants’ awareness of urban natures and cultivate compassion towards plants as lively beings rather than objects or mere scenery.

To tell a story: ethical creativity from perinatal baby loss

Sophie Bertaud (Ethox Centre and Uehiro Centre) and Tamarin Norwood (Author and creative writer; incorporating storytelling and lived experience)

When parents face the devastating news during pregnancy that their baby is affected by a life-limiting condition, their lives are forever changed. The experience of simultaneously facing birth and death makes unique emotional and intellectual demands, and parents suffer further when these are not fully understood by those who support them, whether in healthcare or in the wider social world. This project builds upon the potential of the literary arts to increase empathy by communicating the nuance and emotional force of lived experience, and thus contribute to improved care and societal understanding. We will hear from a diversity of bereaved parents, and together explore how their unique experiences might be interpreted through literary or poetic writing. The quandary at the heart of this creative project is whether, how, and with what consequences the diverse voices of baby loss can be united into a single voice and vision, and what might be gained in shared meaning and empathy through these efforts.

Empathising with the monster?

Lisa Forsberg (Uehiro Centre, Dept. Philosophy) and Donna Han (Installation and Performative Artist; incorporating drawings, writings and sculptures in a virtual exhibition)

This project will generate new artworks consisting of drawings, writings and small sculptures that explore the ethics of using medical and psychotherapeutic interventions in order to rehabilitate criminal offenders. More specifically, the project will look at ‘chemical castration’ and psychotherapy programmes to treat sex offenders, and interventions to treat violent offenders. Being such a contentious topic, it is commonplace that the ethical dilemmas in this area are rarely discussed in the public forum. Sensitivity to the topic is understandable, but emotional reactions may reduce a general understanding of the current approach to treatment and its efficacy. The project will explore how we should view interventions on such offenders: Are they a form of punishment? Are they a form of therapy or medical treatment? Should or should they not benefit offenders? Does it matter, morally, whether they are punishment or treatment? When is it morally permissible to change someone’s mind, personality, or preferences?

A Journey into NHS Data Landscapes

Xaroula Kerasidou (Ethox Centre, Ox Population Health dept.) and Sam Skinner (artist and curator; incorporating data mapping imagery and workshop facilitation)

This collaborative project will produce a novel arts-based output, principally an artist publication that responds to, and feeds into, the underpinning research on mapping NHS data landscapes and infrastructures such as Trusted Research Environments (TREs). The resultant work will be an experimental enquiry and representation of these landscapes and environments, offering an alternative, critical and accessible format for different publics to engage with how NHS data is used and shared. This collaboration will seek to explore how one can capture and represent the complexity of NHS data in ways that enhance, rather than hinder, understanding. It will aim to answer the question; how can we animate these NHS data journeys by making their flows, but also frictions and knots, visible? The intended output will be a visual map that demonstrates the journey of individual health data and encourages conversation on both its use and preconceived trust in the systems involved.

Ethereal Being

Kumeri Bandara (Ethox Centre, Ox Population Health dept., visual artist and printmaker), Christopher Frattina (School of Geography, poet and writer), and two arts partners; incorporating exploratory workshop facilitation, visual arts and poetry.

How do those who have migrated from overseas to the UK working in institutional settings, experience and survive “symbolic violence”? Symbolic violence is a non-physical form of aggression arising from inherent power imbalances. It is not a deliberate act by a dominant authority, but a latent reinforcement of established social hierarchies in institutions, resulting in alienation, devaluation, delegitimisation, and the invalidation of beliefs, values, knowledge, skills, feelings and identities of those othered by the system. “Ethereal being” refers to the state of being during fleeting moments of recognition and connection with fellow individuals experiencing symbolic violence that allows migrants to feel and be seen, respected, and valued for who they are. In this project the collaborators combine their migrant identities, academic research, creative practice and experience in organising an interactive workshop to test an arts-based method investigating symbolic violence and ethereal being. The workshop will bring together fifteen participants (migrant and other minority postgraduate academics) together with facilitators, to draw upon artistic and anti-colonial pedagogies to co-create artistic outputs related to their experiences.