International Arts in Health Conference 2012

The 21st Arts Care Conference 2012 was held in the lyric theatre in Belfast last week and I presented a paper entitled Biosensed Interactive Artworks in Health Education. Here is the abstract: This paper will explore the valuable role that the interactive art discipline can play in health education and healthcare provision. It focuses on interactive, participatory artworks that use biosensors that support embodied enquiry and reflection. The quality and behaviour of these artworks is entirely reliant on the bodily processes of the subject. Such works encourage participants to consciously change their psycho-physiological processes by providing realtime feedback of their physiological activity. The artworks use pneumographs, or respiratory strain gauges, to tune into participant breathing patterns. They extend the subject's perception by amplifying their internal responses using audio and visual representations.

The artworks are designed to distance the participant from more clinical uses of biofeedback in order to minimise any feelings of being judged and to strengthen the participant's sense of agency within the installation. In doing this they provide a creative environment to explore breathing literacy and enable critical enquiry through play.

The nature of this artform supports the capture of both quantitative data from the biosensors and qualitative data from participant interviews allowing for cross examination of results. A phenomenological methodology is applied in the capture and presentation of participant experiences. Participants are offered the option of sharing these experiences with others to facilitate an ongoing dialogue.

The participatory form of biosensed interactive art, offers the work to the entire hospital community to engage with, patients, visitors and staff. The paper concludes with a brief discussion on how such works have successfully been exhibited in St Vincent's hospital in Sydney, Australia.