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September 15, 2007

'Does art have a place in hospitals?'


Above, the headline over Turner Prize-winning British artist Grayson Perry's provocative September 12, 2007 Times of London essay.

Perry wondered whether art's ability to aid healing is overrated.

He wrote, "Part of healing might be facing up to the realities of being stuck in a fallible body."

He concluded, "I don’t want the last thing I see from my deathbed to be a jaunty painting of fishing boats."

One of Perry's works appears up top.

Here's the Times piece in its entirety.

    Does art have a place in hospitals?

    I was having dinner the other night with some friends, a married couple. They were consultants, she for art, he for the heart. He’s a surgeon. We got chatting about art in hospitals. He said that in the anteroom to his operating theatre there was an interactive video installation. It is there to distract patients from the thought that they are about to have someone up to his elbows in their chest cavity.

    I was struck by the image of someone on the brink of life-threatening surgery staring at a piece of video art, often a bit of a chore for me even in the best of health. I was reminded of the dystopian science-fiction film Soylent Green in which the world is a polluted, overpopulated hell and people who elect to commit suicide are shown a film of how beautiful the world used to be while their lethal injection takes effect.

    Our conversation got me thinking about the healing potential of art. I believe that art is good really for one thing only and that is giving aesthetic pleasure. Any other positive function is a lucky side-benefit, but don’t depend on it giving measurable results. Most of my works would serve as admirable doorstops but I tend not to promote them as such.

    One person who believes in the social and healing benefits of art is Professor Anne Marie Rafferty, Dean of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King’s College London. She has instigated a series of visual arts commissions for the school called Culture and Care. The photographer Eileen Palmer has taken portraits of staff and students, and the jeweller Laura Potter has made “a collection of things inspired by a collection of other things”, in this case the Florence Nightingale archive. Professor Rafferty hopes that displaying the art round the school will help to bring a cohesive sense of identity to a fragmented campus with little or no communal meeting spaces. She would also like the works to inspire discussion among the students “even if they just say it’s a load of b******s”.

    I asked her why she thought having art in hospitals is a good thing. “Hospitals are stressful environments; people suffer terribly from anxiety and boredom,” she said. She thinks art can help to alleviate these. Research shows that art in hospitals adds to a good healing environment, which can speed recovery and helps to retain staff. The idea of art being used as a sort of visual Muzak or a trendy organic balm rankles slightly. I asked her: “Does that mean that the better the art the better the healing potential?” This question seemed to flummox her somewhat. I doubt that the recovery rates are faster in the hospitals that display the higher quality artworks. For me one of the great qualities of art is its ability to unsettle us, to provoke uncomfortable questions.

    Hospitals are places of extreme drama: death, injury, birth and the saving of life are hourly occurrences. This is not reflected in the art that ends up in them. The emphasis seems to be on calm – few, if any, of the works loaned by Paintings in Hospitals seem to tackle the churning existential questions that must clamour in the heads of so many in hospital. Paintings in Hospitals is a charity that’s been going since 1959 and has a collection of 4,200 pieces, some by well-known artists such as John Piper, Tom Phillips and John Bratby. Predictably, the collection includes a lot of restful landscapes and soothing abstracts and no Damien Hirsts or Francis Bacons.

    I imagine that art can take people’s minds off the stresses of a hospital but so can an old copy of Heat magazine. Art in any environment is now part of the vocabulary of upmarketness, along with acres of frosted glass and a water cooler, meant to reassure us that we are in a capable and caring place. A few carefully chosen conversation pieces, preferably in cheerful colours, punctuate the shiny minimalism that is the modern professional workspace.

    A prime example of this is the large pebble-like sculpture by John Aitken called Monolith and Shadow on the steps of the recently built University College Hospital. Made of a beautiful multicoloured Brazilian marble, the work cost £70,000 and caused a small outrage on its unveiling. The Daily Mail called it the “gallstone” and asked “how it could possibly improve healthcare”. UCH said it would “enhance its welcoming and reassuring environment”.

    For me the polished pebble is the flagship symbol, along with scented candles, of New Age spirituality and its associations with aromatherapists, the I Ching and pampering vouchers. Not necessarily what I want to encounter on my way in to sort out a broken wrist. If hospitals want to use art, please can they treat us as adults? Part of healing might be facing up to the realities of being stuck in a fallible body. I don’t want the last thing I see from my deathbed to be a jaunty painting of fishing boats.

September 15, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

White-Eye Remover Pen


I've heard of red eye removing pens and pink eye but what the heck is white eye?

Read on.

From the website:

    White-Eye Remover Pen

    For perfect pet photos, the white-eye remover pen works easily, removing white glow and restoring photo instantly.

    Non-toxic, non-scratch and acid-free for prints and slides (not Polaroids).



You want a Red-Eye Remover Pen for people?


No problema.

Same price.

September 15, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

This is not a pipe


Look at the graphic above.

What do you see?

It's the first page of a Google image search using the words magritte pipe.

I was simply looking for a reproduction of Magritte's famous painting, "The Treachery of Images," for a post on territories and maps and their relationship.

But I got sidetracked by the array of images you're looking at.

My question: Which of the reproductions is closest to the real painting?

There's no way of knowing.

Even if one of them is from the website of the painting's owner, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, that image may be further from the original than some of the others.

A photograph taken when the painting was new (1928-1929) would certainly differ from one taken today, what with time's passage and its effects on the oil pigments and canvas.

In this case, it would seem to me that there is no absolute "right" or "correct" or even "best" image: caveat videor.

September 15, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A function too far: Wall-mounted digital scale clock


I'm still not sure exactly how this setup works but it easily qualifies for this year's weirdest mashups short list.

From the website:

Wall-Mounted Digital Scale and Clock

This wall-mounted digital clock has a removable food scale that can be placed on a countertop or table, eliminating the need to provide counter space for both appliances.

The scale is controlled entirely by a touchscreen and it slides over the clock and locks into place.


When removed and used to weigh food or items up to 7 lbs., it uses an infrared signal to transmit its measurements in either metric or imperial readings to the easy-to-read backlit display mounted to the wall.

When not in use as a scale, the display provides time and room temperature.

Includes seven AAA batteries.



September 15, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

bookofjoe MoneyMaker™ — OneZip Mini


And while they're at it why not a OneZip Micro and even a OneZip MicroMini or MiniMicro?

So often I want to put something small in the fridge, a piece of cheese or a 3-oz can of tuna, etc., and the only alternatives are Saran Wrap, always a pain in the butt, or a 1-Quart OneZip bag, my default choice.

Would that such bags came in smaller sizes.

The 1-Quart version measures 8" wide x 7" high.

I'm thinking 4" x 4" for the Mini and 3" x 2" for the Micro.

Plenty of other uses once they get small.

As Richard Feynman presciently remarked back in 1959, envisioning the field of nanotechnology, "There's plenty of room at the bottom."

September 15, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Mentos Geyser Tube


Yeah, yeah, I know, you're already past bored with the old Mentos + Diet Coke mashup.

This device appears to offer a more controlled detonation than other approaches.

From the website:

    Geyser Tube

    Create your very own Geyser Tube with this handy device, Mentos candy and a 2-liter bottle of diet soda.

    Simply place 6-8 Mentos in the plastic tube, place the tube over the mouth of the soda bottle, pull the trigger and RUN!



$7.98 (Pack of Mentos included).

September 15, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

TypePad for iPhone and iPod Touch — bookofjoe going mobile?


I just happened on this new feature, introduced last Sunday, September 9, 2007.


Wonder if it's TechnoDolt™-compatible?


Probably not.



September 15, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Light-Up Dog Leash


Myriad uses outside the Fido space.

From the website:

    Light-Up Dog Leash

    Because the entire length of the leash lights up, drivers are instantly able to “see” that there's a person with a dog ahead of them.

    Lights can be set to constant-on or flashing for even greater visibility.

    Light-up dog leash ensures drivers see both you and your pet.

    This is a much smarter way to walk your dog at night.

    Highly visible at dawn and dusk as well as nighttime.

    Requires 2 AA batteries (not included).

    Leash is 4.5 feet long.


September 15, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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