December 2012 Public Engagement Events
The country is being swept by snow, sleigh bells and seasonal promotions. The only thing missing from the festive frivolities is a sprinkling of science, so here’s a round-up of some science and medical-themed events, funded through our public engagement awards, that will keep you entertained, and your mind active, in the months ahead.
Last chance to see…
This month is your last chance to see the work of the Turner Prize 2012 finalists exhibited at the Tate Britain. One of the finalists is artist and film-maker Luke Fowler, whose film ‘All Divided Selves’ was made with the support of a Wellcome Trust Broadcast Development Award. The film is based on the RD Laing archive footage at the University of Glasgow, which is also supported by the Trust through a Research Resources grant. The Telegraph review of the exhibition describes Fowler as ‘a superb film-maker with a subtle mind and a lot to say’, so do get along to the Tate Britain and see the film for yourself. The exhibition closes on 6 January.
Also in town for a limited time only is Going Dark, the sell-out show from pioneering group Sound&Fury. Having toured the UK, selling out its three week run at the Young Vic’s Clare Theatre, the show now returns by popular demand to the Young Vic’s larger space, the Maria, for a three week run from 4 to 22 December. Sound&Fury use their innovative theatre vocabulary of immersive surround sound design, total darkness and imaginative lighting to reawaken our wonder at the cosmos and reveal how one man’s vision becomes illuminated by darkness.
Be the first to know…
Meanwhile, some exciting new projects are just getting underway. “When It Takes More Than Two” is a series of public debates organised by the Progress Educational Trust. The debates will seek to clarify public and professional understanding of donor conception by approaching the topic from one of three different perspectives: that of the donors, the recipients, and those born of the process.
The first debate will be held at University College London on the evening of Wednesday 12 December. Entitled ‘Giving: The Gamete Donor Perspective’, it will focus on the perspective of the sperm or egg donor. The event is free to attend, but advance booking is required. For more information visit http://www.progress.org.uk/giving.
If you’re looking for an unusual exhibition to explore this weekend, then the Museum of London’s Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men, which will run until April 2013, is a fascinating insight into the grisly world of dissection and the trade in dead bodies in the early 19th century. The exhibition brings together human and animal remains, exquisite anatomical models and drawings, documents and original artefacts. Keep an eye out for the Wellcome Trust sponsored-film installation which brings contemporary voices to the exhibition themes.
In the North West, there are two great exhibitions, ‘The Wasted Works’ and ‘Re-framing Disability’, running in Manchester and Leeds respectively, both until 27 January.
The Wasted Works, by Gina Czarnecki at the Museum of Science and Industry, is a collection of artworks exploring the life-giving potential of ‘discarded’ body parts. This exhibition was part of Manchester Science Festival and launched during the Manchester Weekender. ‘PALACES’, one of the installations in ‘The Wasted Works’, is a unique arts-science project that aims to create a magical sculpture using thousands of baby teeth donated by the public. This will grow over time like a coral reef, to form a fantastical stalagmite-like structure of crystal resin, encrusted in barnacle formations using baby teeth donated by children in the UK and around the world. The exhibition is suitable for all ages, subject to parent’s/guardian’s discretion.
‘Re-framing disability: portraits from the Royal College of Physicians’ at the Thackray Museum in Leeds brings together historical and contemporary perspectives on disability. The exhibition uncovers the hidden histories behind the portraits of disabled people from the 17th to the 19th century, many of whom earned a living exhibiting themselves to the public, and looks at their impact today through contemporary responses from 27 disabled participants from across the UK.
Not going out…
And if the cold days and early nights are making you reluctant to leave the house, you can enjoy these science and medicine documentaries from the comfort of your sofa.
Two historical films first, documenting the equally extraordinary, but starkly different, lives of two early twentieth century men. Both combine the men’s own words with imagined re-constructions to give a unique account of their experiences.
To mark the centenary of his ill-fated final expedition, the ITV documentary Words of Captain Scott used readings of the diaries and letters of Captain Scott, his companions, and those of his Norwegian rival Roald Amundsen – to tell the story of their epic South Pole expeditions. If you missed it, you can now watch it on-line here.
Simon Pummell’s film Shock Head Soul will be released on DVD in the UK on 10 December, after a successful run in the Netherlands. The film interweaves documentary interviews, fictional re-construction and CGI animation to portray the story of Daniel Paul Schreber, a successful lawyer who, in 1903, was confined to an asylum for nine years and documented his experiences in his now celebrated autobiography of madness, ‘Memoirs of My Nervous Illness’. The film’s mix of forms creates both a love story and a cinematic essay that explores the borderline between religious vision and deluded fanaticism, and explores the intimate link between family secrets, psychiatric diagnosis, and the limits to our contemporary understanding of mental illness.
The latest in the series of Body Pods podcasts, from Fuel Theatre, is now available to download from the Guardian and Time Out websites. Body Pods is a 12 month series of podcasts which brings together artists and scientists to explore different parts of the body. The most recent, The Skin, is by multimedia artist and performer Stacy Makishi and dermatologist Michael Klaber.
Another unique insight into the human body and its workings, the BBC2 documentary ‘Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell’ on 21 October followed the story of a viral infection from the point of view of the infected cell, revealing the machinery of the human cell and how it defends against such an attack. The associated interactive Secret Universe website has now launched. It contains further information about the cellular components featured in the film and also features clips from the film narrated by David Tennant. The film and the website were supported by a Broadcast grant from the Trust.