Anarchy in the Organism book published

November 13, 2013


November 2013

Paperback 96 pages | 70 b/w ills 25 x 17 cm / 6.5 x 10 in ISBN 978 1 908966 28 5


Anarchy in the Organism presents ways of looking at the possible meanings of cancer from cultural, scientific, ethical and existential perspectives by exploring a variety 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 to create a work featuring four simultaneous algorithmic videos — a series of animated Voronoi cell tree-forms with tumours growing amidst the organisms causing systemic collapse—and eight speaker ‘whispering windows’ audio diffusion. The public installation focussed on imagining cancer as a complex adaptive system arising within the body, investigating what properties of growth and development the disease shares with social, cultural and natural arenas.

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 and highlighting the installation’s demands for the viewer to consider the implications of cancer as a biomedical object, mortality and ultimately of life itself.

Finally, UCLH Arts and Heritage Committee representative 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.

Black Dog Press Release

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