Archive for the ‘Some things worth noting’ Category

exhibition at Science Gallery Jan 28-Feb 25, 2011

March 10, 2011

books made of human skin

September 7, 2009

The Wellcome Trust Library has a couple of  books in their rare collections make of human skin. Here are a couple of them. I videotaped this during a visit a couple of weeks ago on my way to attend ISEA 2009 in Belfast.

I thank the staff for their generous support and time and the Wellcome Trust rare collections for allowing me to obtain and use this video documentation.

June 27, 2009


Swine flu fear grows in Ireland and UK.

June 23, 2009


Swine flu hype continues to grow out of proportion. Expect to see the thermal scanners at airports. Last time I saw one it was during the SARS epidemic while traveling from Havana, Cuba to Montreal.

Here is the public information leaflet distributed by the UK:
advice for
people entering
tHe UK WitH
inflUenZa tYpe
HS73292 Swine Flu Leaflets.indd   1 29/04/2009   14:30
SWine inflUenZa – advice to travellerS
to tHe UK
Human cases of swine influenza have been
reported worldwide. This is an evolving
situation and it is likely that more countries
will be affected.
What is swine influenza?
Swine influenza is a respiratory disease
normally found in pigs but human cases can
and do happen. Symptoms of swine influenza
are similar to those of seasonal flu, usually a
feverish illness accompanied by cough, sore
throat, headache or muscle aches. For most
people, this illness appears to be mild. Infection
with this flu is treatable with the antiviral drugs
oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (Relenza®).
What should i do if i have returned from a country
affected by swine influenza?
If you have visited an area where human cases
of swine influenza have been identified, it is
important that you are vigilant for any signs of
illness in the seven days after you travel. There
is no need for you to isolate yourself from other
people as long as you remain well.
If you are returning from one of the areas that
have been affected and you start to develop
flu-like symptoms, you should stay at home
to limit contact with others and should seek
medical advice from a GP or contact the
Northern Ireland swine flu helpline on
0800 0514 142.
HS73292 Swine Flu Leaflets.indd   2 29/04/2009   14:30
What happens if it is thought i might have
swine influenza?
All suspected cases will be investigated and
offered antiviral treatment. For most cases, you
will be well enough to remain at home but some
people may need to be admitted to hospital.
It will be important for you to avoid contact
with other people as much as possible until the
results of your tests are back. The people you
live with should also monitor their health and
follow the same advice if they get symptoms.
The most important thing you can do to avoid
spreading the illness to other people is to follow
basic hygiene advice.
You should:
•    avoid contact with other people as much as
•    cover your nose and mouth when coughing
or sneezing, using a tissue when possible
and disposing of dirty tissues promptly and
•    maintain good hygiene by washing hands
frequently with soap and water to reduce
the spread of the virus from your hands to
other people;
•    clean hard surfaces (e.g. door handles)
frequently with a normal cleaning product;
•    make sure that your children follow
this advice.
HS73292 Swine Flu Leaflets.indd   3 29/04/2009   14:30
Issued by UK Border Agency
© Crown copyright 2009
HS73292 Swine Flu Leaflets.indd   4 29/04/2009   14:30

check out the public health campaign from the Uk:

The Flu

June 13, 2009

swine flu (from ABC)The last two weeks have been intensive. Besides working in the lab, I’ve been fighting a bad cold. I have also been feeling like a pariah given the current climate of fear around swine flu.Between the lab and my cold, I have had to wash my hands so much that they are blistering.

The hype around the swine flu is excessive. Is this “pandemic” an excuse to detain migrating populations? More people die of malaria and other infectious diseases each year. How many pigs have been slaughtered to “prevent” the possibility of contagion ?

The relationship between the current pandemic of the swine flu and this project is uncanny. I never intended to comment on the current climate of fear and surveillance around the swine flu, however, now that I look at some the images I have produced from sewing my hands into pig skin, I do see a relationship. I posted one of the images on the blog earlier under ‘untitled’ and it will be the featured image for publicity announcing my residency talk at Fremantle Arts Centre next week. The flu hit Australia a couple of weeks ago and last week the first cases were reported in Western Australia. Many schools have been shut down and children quarantined at home. See

As for the process of making the cryobooks—- I had to suspend the process after fixing the skin and did not get a chance to do the staining. The skin is now frozen and I will have to thaw them and continue with the staining process. Theoretically, it should still work, but time will tell. After some trial and error with the first batch of ‘books”, I have changed the protocol slightly. The primary rabbit anti-mouse desmin is not being used since, unlike the Living Viral Tattoos, this project does not use myoblast cells- only human epithelial HaCat cells. We also substituted Thy1.1 for the mouse anti-mouse vimentin. Anyway, a revamped protocol is forthcoming and will be posted.

pig skin

May 24, 2009

Working with pigs skin is, frankly, one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my art practice. I have to force myself to walk into the butcher and look at all the fleshy bits cut up into neat and tidy display sections. There’s a Chinese butcher shop downtown where I go to get fresh cuts of meat. The shop sells pigs ears, pigs tails, hearts, livers, chicken feet, etc. and has them all neatly lined up in the fridge.


Today I walked into the shop and asked for pig skin again. This time they gave me a big bag full of skin from different body parts; many with strands of hair. What’s more…they didn’t want any money for it. The pigs skin literally isn’t worth much on the meat market.


The ease of buy and trading pig skin makes me feel nauseated. I realize that by being vegetarian I have forgotten what it is like to be standing in a butcher shop smelling blood and meat. And as much I don’t want to be there, I realize that it is better to see such displays than forget that I am still implicated in consuming animals; whether that be wearing leather shoes, reading my leather bound dayplanner, making these images, or using fetal bovine serum in the nutrient solution to feed human cells.


For this project, I feel that it easier to use excess human skin from a consenting patient undergoing an elective plastic surgery procedure than pig skin bought from a butcher (even though it too would probably be thrown away of not purchased that day).

For another perspective on pig-human relations see Kira O’Reilly’s performance work based on her experiences doing tissue culture in the lab. Her text “inthewrongplaceness’ is beautifully written.


Margaret and Christine Wertheim (video about their viral project)

May 14, 2009