Beverley Hood’s installation EIDOLON, currently at Edinburgh College of Art, explores the emotionally-complicated, ethically-fascinating territory of patient simulator manikins and society’s relative separation from the inner workings of hospitals and of medical training. For those who remember Tom Hank’s beloved volleyball Wilson in Castaway (2000), it will be no surprise that inanimate objects can inspire deep attachment. With EIDOLON, however, the objects under consideration are patient stimulator manikins, which function both as safe alternatives to humans (on which to practice procedures) and ideal humans who emote based on internal programming.
Advances in medical training have meant that often-unwilling-but-in-need patients are now less likely to be a trainee’s first needleprick or pelvic examination. And that can only be a good thing. But there is also a strange dependence on robots/tools which “are close to the real thing” which might give the impression that there is a singular ‘real thing’ that can be poked, spoken to, shuffled, bent. While OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations) are a critical part of medical training – ensuring clinical skills are deployed in clear, humanising ways – the idea of a perfectly structured, objective approach to medical training is still, perhaps, missing the point, missing the opportunity for change, missing the unpredictable, missing the context which makes any illness more serious or more possible to cope with. The openness of Hood’s videos (and presumably of the live installation which will run 20-21 August as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival) allows audiences to meditate on their own relationship with clinical practice, their place as either the broken model pieces or the person manipulating them, and the desperate need to demystify the private, inaccessible inner sanctums of hospitals. (BL)
The video installation of EIDOLON is at the Edinburgh College of Art until August 27th (not 22nd, 23rd). Live performances on 20th and 21st August - http://edinburghartfestival.com/whats-on/detail/beverley-hood-eidolon
On Beverley Hood: www.bhood.co.uk
On simulator manikins in training: http://triblive.com/news/healthnow/10949951-74/matt-star-center
On OSCE examination in midwifery: http://eprints.teachingandlearning.ie/3723/