This project creates an innovative and interdisciplinary process that offers disadvantaged groups and the public new tools, at the intersections of data science with art practice, to approach two key issues in healthy aging and prevention: digital skills and health literacy.
Background and Rationale
There are three main reasons for bringing cultural participation, data science and digital inclusion together for health and wellbeing:
- First, there is strong evidence showing that participation in the creative arts can help promote well-being and health in communities, and can be particularly beneficial for disadvantaged groups (in terms of age, disability, income and unemployment). As technologies change, there are new questions that art and humanities research can help us address in relation to health and wellbeing. Arts-based inquiry that involves health data analysis can be an innovative intervention for public health projects.
- Second, critical health literacy is considered key to empowerment, as it not only improves people’s capacity to use health information, but also helps them gain greater control over life events. But as health promotion and communication moves to a digitised era, health literacy today includes the capacity to efficiently use digital health technologies and being able to critically analyse information presented online. In Britain, 12.6 million people lack digital skills and they are most likely to suffer from poor health, while in most cases they also belong in disadvantaged social groups.
- Third, today scientific data and statistics of all sorts are being used in infographics, data journalism, design and art in order to create meaning from the deluge of big data. Data is considered the material of our times. Data-based art can help raise awareness about the ethical, social and cultural issues of personalised medicine, but is however still missing from public health, community-based initiatives.
This Inter-disciplinary Interface Innovation Fellowship project uses health data as the source of experiential stories and as the source material for creative expression. In a series of exploratory workshops, a community of artists, academics and members of disadvantaged population will use a combination of creative media, storytelling and data analytics to explore evidence around health in their local communities. They will co-produce creative work that takes various forms (such as 3D-printed data sculptures, sound art and data murals around the city), which is inspired by both anonymised personal and open statistical health data.
The project will contribute to the development of new theorisation and practice in the fields of critical data studies, media and communication studies, and critical public health in three ways:
- It seeks to explore the new opportunities that are offered in data analysis and visualisation for developing participatory communication strategies for health and wellbeing in the era of big data and personalised digital health. Through innovative artwork that translates obscure statistical data into actionable health information, it will provide a unique new experience for audiences.
- Secondly, it aims to examine how art and creativity can enable health literacy and digital skills amongst socioeconomically disadvantaged population to reduce health inequalities. Based on the premise that people’s encounters with personal data help self-discovery, sense-making and storytelling, the project will contribute to a new approach to understanding healthy ageing, which involves digital and cultural participation.
- Finally, it intends to assess how a participatory arts/data interface can benefit public health and how the combination of digital inclusion and cultural participation can help people stay healthy, active and productive as they age. By drawing on lessons from art for health initiatives, it will provide knowledge on improving public health communication strategies and on designing engaging art interventions in the care sector.
For inquiries about the project please contact Aristea Fotopoulou (A.Fotopoulou[at]brighton.ac.uk)
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.