2014 - 2016 Joost Mellink: "How to achieve meaningful integration of IT?"

| tag: Arnhem

Excerpt from Joost's 20 minute presentation for Speaking Without Thumbs - DAI's 3 day graduation lectures marathon, July 2016 

Maintaining and Optimizing Healthcare in the Face of Growing Demand


Joost Mellink challenged the audience to contextualize a healthcare-related question within the cultural sphere in his performance-lecture, asking, “What will the future of medical healthcare bring in the face of growing demand, and how can a meaningful integration of IT be achieved?”

Without saying more than a few introductory words, Joost brought his invited guest speaker Jos Vliegenthart to the stage. Vliegenthart, a healthcare IT consultant launched into a business-like PowerPoint presentation describing his work in IT. He began by outlining some of the trends that have led to the growing demand of healthcare (such as the ageing population, a newly assertive patient population, and the rise of patient self-management). He also talked about some of the problems and challenges that have come up with data management in the field of IT and the way these issues tend to play a part in the lives of physicians and their patients. In patient-centered care, Vliegenthart says, the patient is increasingly more responsible for his own health and his own data management. He forecasts a future where we will need to turn unstructured data into structured data so that we can recognize it, make meaning, and ‘cluster it’. According to Vliegenthart, this will lead to new, updated roles for professionals in the healthcare field.

After the lecture, Joost screened a short farm-management systems promotional video. In the advertisement, the deep-voiced narrator speaks about how more sensors and greater connections will lead to a sustainable, profitable, and enjoyable future in farming. In this model, IT based on ‘decision supported information’ will make it easy to “compare, calculate, and cooperate”.

For Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Joost’s presentation drew him back into his former life when he was an engineer working on optimization devices to monitor patients with cardiovascular disease. He considered how over-optimization of the world leaves no space for chance, but here – in this performance platform at DAI, and perhaps also in art – “there is a lot of space for chance.” In regard to the ageing population that Vliegenthart referred to, he commented that, “we are outsourcing death”, and the distance between people (for example between doctor and patient) is getting progressively wider. Finally, he wondered aloud what effect hacking might have on such systems?

Ekaterina Degot began by admitting that she might not be on the same page since she was not exactly sure what IT is. She also wondered about the word ‘integration’ in the main question – integration into what? She said that throughout the lecture-performance she had been asking herself if the presentation was supposed to be serious, and if not, when it would become funny. For her, that comic relief came with Vliegenthart’s remark that we are “supposed to collect our own data and store it ourselves”. Degot reminded the audience that avant-garde artists wanted to turn consumers into artists in an effort to get to get rid of consumers. Drawing a parallel to the healthcare trends Joost’s presentation brought (for example, that we are all supposed to diagnose ourselves), Degot says that in art now everybody is not just an artist but also an artist–researcher (which also speaks of a kind of self-diagnosis).

Rachel O’Reilly commented that this lecture-performance made her feel like Joost had outsourced the work to her. She saw what was presented as being related to arts and the governance of art and commended Joost for having the “courage to move into very unsexy terrain.” However, she would have liked more drama or context that would help explain why the artist chose to feature this particular professional (Vliegenthart). She was critical of the way that the performance-lecture “outsources the critical work to the audience.”

Bassam el Baroni responded by saying that the presentation was “missing a kind of positionality” and responsibility for the data. “You don’t have an opinion about that data and that opinion is a creative opinion. The question of subjectivity might have been the difficulty.” He asked, “What kind of bio-politics are we talking about in relation to the subject?” Referring back to Suhail Malik’s presentation about contemporary art and indeterminacy, he noted that Joost’s presentation resembled this type of indeterminate artistic presentation. Triggered by Joost’s question, El Baroni said he would like to know more about how we can maintain a progressive idea about IT, and push for more progress, and at the same time understand the implications with the best possible outcome?”

About: Speaking Without Thumbs

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