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The COVID-19 pandemic raging through the world for well over a year now has prompted different reactions from people across the globe. While there is no dearth of warning and advice from doctors and medical experts, we often argue for and against things like distancing norms, wearing of masks, handwashing, even simple things like touching a hand rail. We have seen people behaving irrationally, from being panic-struck to full of bravado. But why are we behaving the way we do?
Helping you to understand people’s behaviour and other pandemic related issues is an ongoing interactive digital exhibition organised by Science Gallery Bengaluru. This new dynamic space built for engaging young adults at the interface between science and the arts, is holding a unique exhibition titled ‘Contagion’ which presents a multiplicity of voices and perspectives – contemporary and historic, artistic and scientific, individual and collective – for better understanding of the present COVID-19 pandemic.
The interactive digital exhibition includes artworks, video, sound, maps and texts, woven around various issues exploring the phenomenon of the transmission of emotions, behaviours, and diseases. This has been supported by mediator-led sessions, lectures, films, etc.
According to the organisers, Contagion examines the transmission of emotions, behaviours, ideas and diseases, their fascinating and sometimes frightening spread and why all of this matters to the lives we hope to lead and the futures we can imagine.
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Titled ‘A Cluster of 17 Cases’, the interactive website will take you to Hong Kong’s Metropole Hotel, to the floor, from where 16 people in February 2003, unwittingly carried the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) across the world. The exhibition emphasises how a simple action like touching the handrail can have an unforeseen circumstances. It helps us appreciate the role of medical experts trying to find out the reasons behind the outbreak of an unknown disease. Matt Adams of Blast Theory has recreated the situation through an aluminium scale model of the Metropole’s affected floor.
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Or, take the case of the Bombay Plague of 1896 which made the medical fraternity rethink disease control in India. Artist Ranjit Kandalgaonkar’s ‘Drawing the Bombay Plague’ is a combination of imagery from two collections, photographs from the Wellcome Collection and satirical cartoons from the Hindi Punch, a local monthly magazine held at the Asiatic Library in Mumbai. The artist ‘encapsulates the various imaginations of the plague that affected Bombay and attempts to give underrepresented facts, figures and people a voice,’ the note to the exhibition explained.
Listen to Dr Ian Fleming, who discovered the world’s first antibiotic penicillin, giving a talk at the BBC in 1945 and among other things his accurate prediction of antibiotic resistance. ‘Putting the Ant into Antibiotics’, presented through photographs and video, reveals how ants have been fighting pathogens with antibiotics, the subject of a study by scientists at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK. Mapping the ebb and flow of diseases, the nature of viruses, The Glassroom Misinformation Edition by Tactical Tech delves into the heart of deep fake, which are often so realistic that it is difficult to detect.
The Contagion exhibition organised by Science Gallery Bengaluru will be available for viewing online here until December 31, 2021. Some programmes may require prior registration.
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