Visual Arts, Mental Health and Technology

Heald, Karen and Liggett, Susan (2017) Visual Arts, Mental Health and Technology. In: Art, Design and Technology: Collaboration and Implementation. SpringerBriefs in Computer Science book series . Springer Briefs International Publishers, pp. 67-82. ISBN 978-3-319-58121-7

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There are a growing number of research projects in the UK in the field of health and well-being that involve artists utilizing new technologies. This chapter explores current examples of nationally funded projects, exhibitions, and artworks that directly relate to public perceptions of mental health. Lessons learnt from the problems and difficulties encountered by artists collaborating with medical professions are a focus, as is the importance of the medium of video and the use of new technologies such as virtual reality in facilitating the implementation of innovative ideas that have made a significant contribution to the field of arts in health. Anguish and distress are fundamental characteristics of the Western artistic tradition, particularly since the Enlightenment. The visual arts offer opportunities to explore inner personal experiences. Psychiatry has historically used reductionist methods to measure some of these experiences such as mental disorder. Although there has been progress, there has also been an increasing dissatisfaction with the way that reductionist science can drain meaning and lived experience out of its understanding of mental illness. Artists acknowledge that much of our emotional experience is preverbal or nonverbal and occupies an experiential space that is dream-like and difficult to express through words. This chapter investigates the work of several contemporary international artists—individually, and collectively in exhibitions. These include artists using multimedia and those exploring the use of technology in remote locations with vulnerable adults and young people. Several films, videos, animations, documentaries, and online projects involving various public sector organizations and groups of people are also discussed. The lessons learned from collaborative and cross-disciplinary projects are summarized. A research project on art and science continues earlier work where the authors were part of an interdisciplinary research team which completed a pilot study with people attending a mental health outpatient clinic called In-between-ness ( The original objective was to develop and test methods which could be used to explore the experience of people with a diagnosis of depression as their perception of themselves and the world around them changed through the course of antidepressant treatment. During the pilot, the method was refined and improved, largely as a response to the research participants, who had a strong and distinctive voice. Guided by experts, dialogues and engagement within the collaboration created added value. The chapter concludes by discussing how an expanded team is now ready to conduct a large-scale study using the method they have developed.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Interdisciplinarity Practice-based research Practice-led research Research impact Innovation in art and design Collaboration in the visual arts Art/science Artists moving image Virtual reality (VR) and the arts Arts in health Visual arts and healthcare Po
Divisions: Creative Arts
Depositing User: Hayley Dennis
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2021 10:42
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2023 13:04

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