PhD Studentship: the human body as nexus for performing arts and medicine

The proposed project will investigate, through practice-based research, the reciprocal relationship between the life sciences/medicine and contemporary visual/performing arts as it is constructed, perceived, negotiated or performed at the nexus of physical and conceptual human bodies.

At the heart of the project will be innovative forms of interdisciplinary (possibly collaborative) research, where the body in its’ real or imagined state – from cell sample to living patient or cadaver – is the central focus. The project will negotiate the creative possibilities of the intersection between activities and persons in different fields. Practice-based research, which utilises the participatory, interactive approach theorised, as ‘relational aesthetics’ by Bourriaud may be most relevant here, though no particular media is prescribed.

Research proposals with collaborators/collaborating institutions in place are welcomed, or can be built as part of the project. Every effort will be made to facilitate relationships with appropriate Departments across the University and beyond, utilising the networks of the supervisory team.

The research will be situated within emergent Fine Art research group ‘The Cultural Negotiation of Science’ which includes staff working with experts in Fundamental and Biomedical Science, Genetics and Physical Geography, whose common concerns include the foregrounding of practice and performativity across the disciplines, challenging the instrumentalisation of art in cross-disciplinary collaboration, and exploring the perceived ethical ‘values’ guiding both art and science.

The wider contemporary visual art context includes the existing field of art/science collaboration, which the project should aim to extend/challenge.
Relevant also are cross-disciplinary networks in Arts & Health, the second wave of “Critical Medical Humanities”, the interdisciplinary fields of Death Studies and Collections – based research.

The researcher will benefit from a base amongst the Fine Art, Post Graduate community at BALTIC 39 ( established through the partnership between Northumbria University and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

Enquiries regarding this studentship should be made to:

Applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree (in a relevant subject) from a British higher education institution, or equivalent. Students who are not UK/EU residents are eligible to apply, provided they hold the relevant academic qualifications, together with an IELTS score of at least 6.5.

To apply, contact Andrea Percival to request the appropriate application form, quoting the advert reference above, via email to or by using the application link on this page.

Deadline for applications: 14 April 2014
Start Date: 7 October 2014

More info at

Poster for Sarah Harvey's Opus Pericardium

Sarah Harvey: Opus Pericardium

Sarah Harvey | Opus Pericardium
In collaboration with Simon C Russell and Tim Yates

Exhibition: Saturday 07 July – Saturday 04 August 2012
Opening Hours: noon – 5pm | Monday to Saturday by informal appointment | RSVP
Late Openings: Every Wednesday | 6 – 8pm – no appointment necessary
SoundFjord, 28 Lawrence Road, London, N15 4ER, UK.

Opus Pericardium is Sarah Harvey’s first major exhibition working in collaboration with composers, Simon C Russell and Tim Yates.

Opus Pericardium is a sci-art project exploring the poetry and topography of the heart made tangible. By translating the rhythm and pulse of life through the digital data of electrocardiogram readings, this piece unearths the secret music of the human heart; sculpting with sound, the heart’s tacit musical language.

Poster for Sarah Harvey's Opus Pericardium

Talk | Meet the Artists and Scientists
Saturday 21 July 2012 | 4pm | Free Entry | RSVP

Sarah Harvey, Simon C Russell, Tim Yates, Professor Peter MacFarlane (Professor of Electrocardiology) and Richard Whale (Senior lecturer atBrighton and Sussex Medical School) speak in detail about the ideas that inspired the work, the ethical and conceptual issues that were raised during research, as well as the progress and outcome of their meticulous research linking artistic practice to scientific research and the confluence of both Science and the Arts.

For more information visit

On the Tip of the Tongue


Last night I heard Anna Sadler give a talk about her recent work; the latest in the Penryn-based Independent School of Art series. Anna’s project, The Other Foreign Body: camera as probe, reminded me of some of the questions I’ve been asking about medical listening in my current research project. Her use of the camera in the piece Mouth Endoscopy provides a subtle visual counterpart to some of the work by Christof Migone that I’ve been looking at over the past two years. It also set me thinking about the relationship between techniques of medical imaging and techniques of medical listening, particularly as they might be co-opted for creative arts practice. I scribbled down a few notes:


The work I am reminded of most is Migone’s Evasion, or how to perform a tongue escape in public (2000). In this work, the performer is required to stick out his/her tongue as far as, and for as long as, possible, a move that Brandon LaBelle describes as delving into the ‘viscous materiality of the mouth.’ He argues that the work ‘exemplifies Migone’s practice: by uncovering an inside that suggests a different outside.’ As LaBelle points out, the work is intimately (tongue)tied to orality, implying the voice through exposing its fleshy, physical origins.


Mouth shapes. Correspondences between the shape of the lips and the position of the tongue. How are these understood by the eye when the ear has no part to play? Can the eye only understand as an implicit ear, the body unable to disassociate completely from memories of moving its own mouth, from the feeling of forming sound?


Mouth as opening to the interior of the body, something to be ‘looked into’. In sound works, the mouth and its sounds are always over-written with the potential for speech? Sadler’s work forestalls the possibility of diagnosis via the speech of the patient describing her symptoms and revealing both the interior of the body and the interiority of subjective experience. Thus while the materiality of the flesh is emphasised, it remains mute, impenetrable, and caught by the inability of the camera to reveal the body beyond the oral cavity. The lens reveals, but also silences.

There’s a lot to reflect on, and no doubt some of my thoughts and questions are naïve and poorly articulated, but this is definitely something I want to come back to. Perhaps I will do some proper research and try to get it all down in a longer essay.

In the meantime anyone interested in the relationship between medicine and the arts might want to check out Clod Ensemble’s Performing Medicine project.

Performing Medicine provides training to medical students and healthcare practitioners using the performing and visual arts (at undergraduate, postgraduate and at professional development level). We also curate events for the general public which engage with issues at the heart of medicine and healthcare.

As well as some wonderful performances, there are a number of workshops running during November and December. Topics include: Anatomy Through Movement, Anatomical Drawing, and The Poetic Body.