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Sunday, April 15, 2012

TEDMED Day 2: "Death" Painting Sesssion 4

TEDMED Session four was after lunch, so perhaps in a desire to wake people up it was quite provocative.

The company of dancer-illusionists entitled MOMIX began the session. The stage was dark and suddenly glow-in-the dark patterned limbs began gyrating in amazing disembodied symmetry.  Limbs appeared and disappeared while the audience watched in awe.  When the lights came up we saw the dancers dressed in black stretch velvet.  I was very inspired by the dancer's passionate movement so I began to paint a red dancer across the canvas and then created a background of riotous color.

Next Albert-Laszlo-Barabasi, Distinguished Professor of Northeastern University and Director of the Center for Complex Network Research came to the stage.  He began describing human genome research using the analogy of a map of Manhattan.  He talked about the different districts of the city, like the financial or theatre district, but now they were the cancer district or heart disease district.  He showed us that our mapping is incomplete and whole sections were missing.  He talked about a future where doctors operated as network experts. And so within the painting our dancing figure is gracefully draped with a blank map pressed upon her lithe body by the winds of change. Her one arm is encased within a swirling double helix.


Seth Cooper, Creative Director for Game Science from the University of Washington was up next and he sang the praises of gamification as they apply to scientific research.  I have been to many speeches where speakers talk about gamification in the personal application of weight loss and healthy living, but this was super cool.  Seth created FoldIt, a protein folding game that made headlines a while back. A large group of amateur folders from every walk of life managed to complete a folding exercise within weeks that flummoxed scientists for 15 years.  The best folder to the surprise of the TEDMED audience joined him; this unassuming female lab assistant is a preeminent protein folder and proves the power to harness the untapped resource of the citizen or patient.


Marc Triola, Associate Dean for Educational Informatics, NYU School of Medicine spoke next and gave this painting its title.  He spoke of the time when doctors are in medical school and they have access to the sacred cadaver.  Then I realized our dancer was dead.  Kait B. Roe my art assistant at TEDMED said she knew this all along, she thought of the figure within the metaphor of a lobster:  red is dead.  So the painting was entitled “Death.”

Marc followed this comment about access to the sacred cadaver with his frustration that as students leave school and this access is no longer available, they cease to actively learn about anatomy and things can be forgotten, so he and John Qualter, Co-Founder, Director of Media, BioDigital Systems and Research, Asst. Professor of Educational Informatics, NYU School of Medicine embarked on the creation of a 3D human body interactive program that will allow students, doctors and even patients to study human anatomy from a basic understanding to a detailed presentation of pathology. 
The next speaker was the amazing visual artist Lisa Nilsson.  She explained the art of paper quilling to the crowd of medical professionals.  Quilling is a very time intensive art form.  The artist must coil thin strips of paper around a quilling tool and place in compositional frame. Hundreds or thousands of these small coils make up an image.  Most quilling artists create elaborate flower arrangements using this technique.  Lisa creates cross sections of the human body. So within the painting our dancer’s skull is open and we can see her spiraling brain.


Next TEDMED’s Jay Walker treated us once again to a voyage through history.  He showed us some very old bibles handwritten in ink as well as a page from the Gutenberg Bible.  As I often use the historic example of the Reformation when explaining Meaningful Use and patient engagement, I was quite excited at this point.  Jay went on to show an e-reader and stated that our generation may be the last to depend upon using ink on paper.  At this point I painted a book upon the foot of the dancer.  Its title is INK.


David Icke, CEO of MC10, then wowed the audience with his flexible circuits that apply like a band-aid and look like a geeky tattoo.  He gave an inspiring explanation of these devices.  People are bendy and curvy just like this lovely dancer, and the devices we place upon them or within them should be bendy and curvy as well.  I can hardly wait for David’s work to go beyond its current use in the sports community and join us in the world of medicine.

Next up was the speaker who blew up the twitter stream.  I have not seen so many penis references since Xeni’s tweets about the #ghostpenis in December.  Diane Kelly is a wonderfully hilarious and genuine Senior Research Fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  She spoke about her foray into researching the human penis and her special interest in erection.  Now at this point, I am staring at the simulcast screen trying to think of a way to incorporate this talk.  Diane saves the day by using a slide image comparison of an earthworm.  I twine the earthworm strategically around her leg as I chortle at Diane’s delightfully funny scientific speech.


 Traces, the Urban Acrobats, finished off the session with another amazing dancing experience, and so the session began as it started in a wild rush of athleticism and grace as I added the final brushstrokes to our dancer.

In honor of their support of TEDMED and scholarship funding this painting was bestowed to Xerox at the close of TEDMED 2012.

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