From Pics to Pastels to Pixels: Henry Tonks, WW1 and BioShock
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From Pics to Pastels to Pixels: Henry Tonks, WW1 and BioShock

From Pics to Pastels to Pixels: Henry Tonks, WW1 and BioShock

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Barts Pathology Museum (3rd Floor Robin Brook Centre)

QMUL School of Medicine and Dentistry

St Bartholomews Hospital site

West Smithfield, United Kingdom

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'From Pics to Pastels to Pixels: Henry Tonks, WWI and BioShock' with Dr Suzannah Biernoff

Senior Lecturer at Birkbeck University of London, "Exhibiting the Body" Module Lead

In this illustrated lecture, Dr Biernoff will focus on Henry Tonks, British Surgeon and artist whose work took an interesting turn in the modern era. During WW1 Tonks produced pastel drawings which recorded facial injury cases at the Cambridge military hospital and the Queen's Hospital. He then became an official war artist in 1918, and he accompanied John Singer Sargent on tours of the Western Front.

Extraordinarily some of the original photographs depicting the facial deformities of Tonks’ subjects were utilised by a computer games manufacturer for a first-person shooter game called BioShock. The soldiers’ devastating wounds were translated into beautiful, educational pastels by Tonks yet they were also transformed into faces made of pixels for monsters called ‘Splicers’ in the game.

During the evening we’ll discuss Tonks’ interesting career, the exploitative nature of ‘looking at suffering’ and the ethics of BioShock’s image usage in this context.

Suzannah Biernoff teaches in the Department of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London and is co-director of Birkbeck’s Medical Humanities Research Group. Her research has spanned medieval and modern periods: she is the author of Sight and Embodiment in the Middle Ages (2002), while her recent work pursues the themes of corporeal history and visual anxiety in the context of First World War Britain.  In 2007 she was awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Leave Award for a project on the cultural history of disfigurement.  Open Access articles from this project have been published in the journals Visual Culture in Britain, Social History of Medicine and Photographies, and an essay on Nina Berman’s Marine Wedding appeared in Ugliness: The Non-beautiful in Art and Theory.  Her book Portraits of Violence: War and the Aesthetics of Disfigurement is due out with the University of Michigan Press in early 2017.

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Date and Time
Location

Barts Pathology Museum (3rd Floor Robin Brook Centre)

QMUL School of Medicine and Dentistry

St Bartholomews Hospital site

West Smithfield, United Kingdom

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