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Medical archives and digital culture

Biernoff, Suzannah (2012) Medical archives and digital culture. Photographies 5 (2), pp. 179-202. ISSN 1754-0763.

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When BioShock was released in August 2007, reviewers praised the moral complexities of the narrative and the game’s dystopian vision of what Ayn Rand dubbed the “virtue of selfishness.” What critics overlooked was the extent to which the disturbingly realistic artwork and musical score relied on found images and sound, including a recording of distressed breathing from a physician’s website, and digitized First World War medical photographs of soldiers with facial injuries. This article examines the implications of these acts of appropriation from a range of critical perspectives including Susan Sontag’s commentary on the representation of suffering; recent literature on the ethics of computer games; and an online discussion forum in which players of BioShock discuss the moral “grey areas” of the game.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The research for this article was supported by a Wellcome Trust Research Leave Award [grant no. 082864]
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): body, art, digital, archive
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Arts > History of Art
Depositing User: Dr Suzannah Biernoff
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2012 10:51
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2014 11:51

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