Who Cares: the aesthetic use of thermal imaging to explore the role of touch as a signifier of care, contamination, intimacy and trust

Book chapter


Woodhouse, A. and Broadhead, C. 2024. Who Cares: the aesthetic use of thermal imaging to explore the role of touch as a signifier of care, contamination, intimacy and trust. in: Encountering Environments: Perspectives from the Arts and Humanities London, UK Taylor & Francis (Routledge).
Chapter titleWho Cares: the aesthetic use of thermal imaging to explore the role of touch as a signifier of care, contamination, intimacy and trust
AuthorsWoodhouse, A. and Broadhead, C.
Abstract

This artists reflection will discuss the notion of environments as expressed through the use thermal technologies as a tool to create the dance-screen project Who Cares. We draw attention to the body as expanded beyond visible borders and so reimagined in painterly abstraction through heat trace. Who Cares follows earlier experiments with thermal technology (Thermal Duets 2019) but aims to reflect on care as understood post pandemic. It was initiated through interviews with NHS staff (ICU staff at Whittington Hospital) in which nurses reflected on the tensions experienced through touch as a signifier of care, contamination, intimacy and trust.
We will draw on the voices key in the making process; those of the NHS staff, the lead artists, and the dancers Alice Labant and Martina Conti. The article will also reflect on audience responses as part of Who Cares selected for ‘Wells Art Contemporary’, a major group exhibition in the cathedral itself in Aug/sept 2023. In addition, reference to recent writing such as Dahiya (2020) Phenomenology of Contagion supports the question of touch as re-figured through recent experiences.
The writing will reflect on the relay and forensics of touch, revealing our bodies as overlapping, drawing attention and giving space to these tensions. The visual capture of heat in breath, in the exchange of clothes or in the residue of touch offers the opportunity to explore the environment of the tactile, normally unseen. Experiments revealed the body as extended through time, of detail (heat) emerging and fading, of quiet attention in the presence of viewers.
In understanding the dangers of being together, but also the pressing need for human touch we as artists are interested to express the inherent tensions through the creative and poetic potential of thermal imaging technology, forging new artistic investigations for us and for the field.

KeywordsDance; Thermal imaging; Touch; Care
Sustainable Development Goals12 Responsible consumption and production
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
Research GroupDance group
Book titleEncountering Environments: Perspectives from the Arts and Humanities
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)
Place of publicationLondon, UK
Publication dates
Print21 Oct 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted07 Jun 2023
Deposited06 Mar 2024
Output statusAccepted
LanguageEnglish
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