Anarchy in the Organism
Anarchy in the Organism
25 x 17 cm | 10 x 6.5 in
70 ills | 96 pages
Editor Simeon Nelson
Anarchy in the Organism is an in-depth reader exploring a variety of discourses derived from responses to Simeon Nelson’s affecting art installation of the same name. As the artist-in-residence at the UCLH integrated Macmillan Cancer Centre, Nelson engaged with ideas of complexity theory, cybernetics and the philosophy of science, and the biology of the human body.
Focussed on imagining cancer as a complex adaptive system arising within the body, Nelson investigates those properties of growth and development the disease shares with social, cultural and natural arenas, creating installation work featuring four simultaneous algorithmic videos and eight–speaker ‘whispering windows’ audio diffusion.
The book features a selection of essays, each detailing the author’s differing experiences and subsequent applications of their reaction to this interdisciplinary art project. Simon Walker-Samuel’s “The architecture of tumour blood vessel networks” documents his collaboration with the artist and how he designed cancer-visualisations based on how normal tissues can transform into a diseased, cancerous state and how he interpreted the artist’s ideas about analogous processes such as the industrialisation of towns and cities. Jorge Castillo-Sepúlveda & Francisco Tirado’s “Complexity, Heterogeneity and Medicine” addresses cancer as a biomedical object, considering it as a material and social assemblage. Monia Brizzi’s “Transience and Complexity in Anarchy in the Organism (AITO): Implications for Counselling Psychology” highlights the installation’s demands for the viewer to consider the implications of their responses within the phenomenological dimensions of cancer, mortality and ultimately of life itself. Finally, Gilly Angell’s “A View From the Other Side: A Patient Perspective” is a thoughtful and affecting comment exploring the legitimacy of Nelson’s work and a cancer patient’s reaction to the artist’s appropriation of such a personally and psychotherapeutically challenging experience.
In addition, the book includes two further expositional texts in the form of notes on the musical accompaniment to the installation by the composer Rob Goodman, and notes on the scientist and artist responsible for the piece’s video coding, Nick Rothwell.
Anarchy in the Organism presents integrative ways of looking at disparate phenomena to confront the possible meanings of cancer, from scientific, social, cultural, ethical and existential perspectives.