Salving Successions

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Tectonic shifts in scientific thought and medical practice during the nineteenth century fractured past conceptions of life. Relations with God, nature and our very selves transformed. Vectors of subjectification turned around a multiplicity of events as the old world order collapsed under the pressure of new technologies. Interventions were made within the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret collections in order to highlight elements which connect the life of the theatre and garret to the social and technological convulsions of the time, their historical roots, what passed, and the futures that were seeded.

Interventions were contextualised by a public talk which mapped out relationships between disparate themes and traced histories backward and forward from the introduction of anaesthetics into surgery. These relationships were visually sketched out and parallels drawn between what went before and what came after. Viewers were encouraged to explore alternative meanings by suggesting the possibility of lateral connections, which are not spatially or temporally bound, between subjects. As structures of understanding grow, openings for undermining are set into their foundations. Conditions for novel thought are created beyond the boundaries of the ossified structures tradition and the new is fertilised by its’ exclusion and negation by current systems of authority. However, as the resistance of a collapsing past is overcome the new itself fills up the ecological voids opened up by the disintegrating old order and new rigid forms temporarily dominate.

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