Bio-medical exploration is a fantasy of objective visibility. To see is to know, and to know is to succeed. However, as there is no such thing as a purely objective gaze—observation is always tied to a host of psychological associations, to see is to concurrently project and consume. Using the sci-fi genre as a license to sublimate my scopophilic (visually indulgent) relationship with the aesthetics of science, I explore how knowledge is produced, documented, and disseminated in favor of assuaging the pain of others within the western health care system.
Through photographs, videos, sculptures, and installations I deal with neurosis, gender and power dynamics in the bio-medical institution. Using archival images, simulated procedures, tableaux, alternative presentation methods, and set-building, I fetishize the surgical theatre, excavating hospital archives, and carrying out experiments.
For more than half of my life, I have been in constant pain, from a degenerative disease. Through repeated doctors, diagnoses, and procedures I have become well-acquainted with the intimacy and delicacy of a doctor-patient relationship. This autobiographical material is the root of an alter-ego, a caricature of a neurotic, intellectual hero.
The alter-ego is constructed from a series of signifiers, as a queer Jewish person with a chronic illness, raised with a cultural identity that idealizes intellect to the point of fetishization. This is a stylized performance of a masculine archetype used in science fiction. Inspired by both speculative fiction (e.g. Mary Shelley’s sublimation of self as the decidedly male Dr. Frankenstein) and the visceral details of medical history I play with tools until they become toys, and introduce them into installation spaces as props.
This body of work has multiple iterations. Presently: Sex Live of Animals without Backbones, The Prosthetic Practice for the Healing of Imaginary Wounds, A Science of Desirable/Detestable Bodies, and Referred Pain. The last of which I am currently working on. This chapter focuses on the history of the documentation of pain, and of privacy, through the use of photographs of patients from the 20th century that, prior to my introduction into the work, have only been made for, and looked at by doctors, scientific imaging techniques (e.g. x-rays, photomicrographs) clinical notes (to be used as scripts with simulated patients,) and fantastical photographs of defunct medications, and tools. Through this, I adopt the role of the epistemophile to explore the aesthetics of a scientific fantasy world of infinite visibility and knowability.