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History of Medicine in Motion



Picturing the Pox: A (Very) Brief History

By h.palfreyman, on 11 May 2009


Harriet Palfreyman

3 Responses to “Picturing the Pox: A (Very) Brief History”

  • 1
    Carole.Reeves wrote on 14 May 2009:

    This is a very accomplished and dramatic piece of film-making. The opening sequence is particularly effective and thought-provoking. I like the choice of music and dramatic crescendos between narrative. The narrative itself is well paced and has good tonal qualities, lending an air of mystery to the story.
    I like the concept of telling the story through the iconographic representations of pox down the ages. In my view, this is what text-based historians miss in their one-dimensional worlds. This type of story cannot be told effectively without images.
    From a technical point of view, I think some of the images would have benefited from ‘cleaning up’, ie trimming off borders, etc.

  • 2
    Erin.Sullivan wrote on 16 May 2009:

    Wow! The images you included are fascinating and your narrative connecting them together is both informative and thought-provoking. I especially liked the comment you made about the posture and expression of many of the sufferers–it helped refocus my attention on the images and see them as not only icons but also as individual human beings.

    A small change I might suggest would be to keep the text slides up longer, as I didn’t quite finish reading them (this might have been because the images were temporarily training me to look more carefully and thoughtfully at what was put in front of me). Also, I think a bit more elaboration in your conclusion would be helpful–as you note, it’s a stark shift from the horrible images of decaying human faces to the abstract and impersonal ones of the scientific slide. A few more comments on this huge jump in the iconography would help give a fuller conclusion to a really beautiful piece of work!

  • 3
    Mike Stanley-Baker wrote on 24 May 2009:

    Wa. Just lovely. The music, narrative and images flow seamlessley together, totally hooking me in. Great transitions, text and rhythm. Really beautiful to watch, and I kept wanting more. Some slower zooms/pans around 2:09 would have helped – pauses in the narrative btw. each therapy would give more time for your lovely images.

    That the effects of the pox are so visually disturbing, and expressed so vividly makes this such great material for digital media. Watching this clip against Daniel Rees’ clip on physiognomy makes me wonder if these fears of a reified UNknown, the Pox, were driven by fears of very real things – people with facial aberrations, and the possibility of contracting them oneself. Do we indeed, fear the pox now? And if not, has that fear been removed because of the abstraction from the physiognomic to the microbic?

    This really got me thinking – hooked my brain long after the clip was over, and thus is a very effective piece of work – the images are feed the intellectual curiosity of the narrative. Now I wish someone would do a clip on the ethics of facial transplants to link yours and Daniel’s clips!

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