2018 Winter Artist-in-Residence
January – March 2018
The International Museum of Surgical Science is proud to present our Winter 2018 Artist-in-Residence: Chicago-based artist Justus Harris.
Justus Harris (US, b. 1990) combines medical data visualization and 3D modeling to understand health trends. His work is inspired by using continuous monitors for his type 1 diabetes. The 3D printed Diabetes Data Sculptures and public health data projects that come from his research have been featured internationally at venues including the Stanford School of Medicine, Theorizing the Web (New York), the Harold Washington Chicago Public Library where he was the inaugural Maker in Residence, and at the European Commission’s Internet of Things exhibit ‘Adaptation’ (Berlin). He is a portfolio reviewer and alumni of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BA, Visual & Critical Studies). Justus has participated in five artificial pancreas research studies and is currently using a DIY artificial pancreas system. He is currently developing his projects at mHUB, Chicago’s premier prototyping innovation center.
The saws, ocular devices, and prosthetics showcased at the International Museum of Surgical Science express a tangible language of attempts at human healing. I will synthesize this archive of ‘healing’ objects with my own biological data archive gathered from the monitors I use to treat my medical condition (Type 1 diabetes).
After 3D-scanning select objects that are relevant to my medical condition I will modify them digitally to relate their forms with my own body as well as with my ongoing Diabetes Data Sculptures series. The resulting works will be digital animations and site-specific sculptures. I will position this work in the Hall of Immortals to insert the patient as a healer in the court of idolized medical figures.
The tools that have healed, mangled, and modified the body are part of the lineage of the high tech pharmaceuticals and medical devices I use as a patient. My time at the Museum is a chance to bridge the past and future of medical philosophy informed by my participation in DIY medical and maker communities, which combine technologies not initially intended to heal.
My experience living with a chronic illness drives me to utilize all means available to me to understand, heal, and liberate my body. In treating my type 1 diabetes I use existing technologies and experiment with emerging technologies to regulate and monitor my blood sugar. My artwork helps me transform my physical condition and share a philosophical outlook that begins where the limits of the current medical paradigm end.
As a research subject in artificial pancreas studies, I observe the disconnect between donating my time to innovation versus benefiting from the experience directly. Taking surveys, being connected to IVs, and having blood draws every thirty minutes does not provide me a greater understanding of my body. This is symptomatic of the medical protocol to treat rather than to teach. I developed 3D-printed representations of one month of my continuous glucose levels, which I call Diabetes Data Sculptures. These tangible representations of biological trends allow me to recall my health over time in a visceral way using the data from the glucose monitor and insulin pump that are always attached to my body. Building on my personal health based works I utilize public health records in projects such as Chicago Public Data Sculptures and global water pollution records in my digital animation series Fountains, to emphasize the relationship between personal and public health.
Diabetes diminishes and ultimately deadens physical sensation over time through nerve damage. It is the fastest growing disease in the world but the majority of its damage remains hidden inside the body and forgotten. My interest is in developing tools that increase our ability to understand our bodies and integrate the information technology provides us in a memorable and personalized form.
Learn more about Justus Harris’ current work at http://www.justusharris.com/.