Thursday, 11 December 2008

Biomedical Music

To all Drake musicians, associates, staff and anyone else who's interested,
please use and abuse this entry (via your comments below) to discuss and generate ideas for what could potentially be a very interesting project.

The Wellcome Trust gives Arts Award grants to 'experimental arts projects that investigate biomedical science' and examine it's 'social, cultural, and ethical impact'. Read more here.

Carien & I are interested in making an application to this fund sometime early in 2009. So far we imagine that the project might:
  • involve one or more art-forms in addition to music
  • be appropriate for more mature musicians / artists rather than school-age children
Your thoughts please...



drakemusic said...

yes, yes. thats a huge gap in our provision for adult musicians who are not accessing any services at all. i constantly get letters from carers or support workers asking what music projects people can get involved with and we don t have anything to offer at the moment. gemma and i will look more specifically at the bid and feedback in more detail.

Nick said...

Certainly lots of interesting possibilities for this! One thing that springs to mind that I'm hopefully going to be working on soon is for a glove that has been developed for Parkinsons sufferers. Currently it only outputs numerical data for analysis of progress by doctors, but the idea is to create a sonic/musical response to the gloves data so that users could track their own progress in a more tangible way - I'm certainly very interested in the idea of developing a glove that could be used as a performance tool to control various forms of sonic and visual media!

Doug said...

I emailed Alan Martin about this and here's his initial response:

Hi Doug
This sounds exciting!I'm thinking, people who use wheelchairs, need cardio workout/fitness/ blood circulation/cardio exercise/ flexibility, which can be found in DANCE. Dance, in soundbeam, generating images, as in windows media player, or Imuse type effect.Possibly images of intercellular events, or blood circulation, heart beats etc etc. ????????

anya said...


This sounds like a really interesting project! I recently read an article at in particular the Molecular code section as I think the idea of hearing DNA sequencing is fascinating.

I was thinking that perhaps we could build on this idea to do things like record sounds of different equipment in biomedical labs and use it to make music, especially as many people find the idea of science confusing, intimidating and quite 'clinical' and 'sterile' - this could be a way to encourage people who are not scientists to think about science differently.

We could also look at using sounds in the human body (or sounds of other living organisms) that are not usually audible, but that can be made audible using certain equipment. We could also look at things like 'what sound does an ibuprofen tablet make as it reduces pain?' again, demystifying the medical and pharmacological process.

I like Nick's idea too and it also reminds me of a project I heard about a few years ago to use MR scanners to emit sounds as well as images so that doctors could tell by sound as well as sight if there was an abnormality in a particuar region of the body.

Gemma said...

Hi Doug
It may well be possible to tie this into Useless Eaters.. I know the Para-Olympics was link too, but There is evidence to suggest that the Nazi party was greatly influenced by Darwin and his theories around natural selection. The T4 programme came about from ideas of natural selection and the eugenics movement of the late C19, and many of these early concepts are prevalent in today’s society in terms of genetic engineering and forced sterilization of young women with significant impairments.

drakemusic said...

From Gemma, emailed to Doug:

FY I- Other disability related projects funded by the wellcome trust:-

Motion Disabled is a moving digital sculpture, created by recording
the movements of disabled people as they perform a range of ordinary
and extraordinary actions. Simon Mckeown used motion capture
technology to record the movements of physically impaired people with
conditions such as Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy and Brittle Bones.

The five films play out across 5 monitors facing each other in the new
atrium area of the gallery. Presented alongside are a series of
digital 3-D printed maquettes, which physically represent the films,
they enable viewers to further engage and explore ideas of normality
and difference.

The artist Simon Mckeown is Reader of Computer Animation at the
University of Teesside. One of the questions behind this exhibition:
is physical diversity about to become virtual?

Motion Disabled was produced by Dr Paul Darke in association with the
Outside Centre along with the Wellcome Trust, the University of
Teesside and the Institute of Digital Innovation (IDI) and Screen WM.

drakemusic said...

perhaps we could collate the best ideas and obtain funding from the wellcome trust to commission three or four disabled artist / musicians to create work around theie ideas???