Medical Avatar: The Time Health Machine by Artist Virgil Wong
This exhibit of art and technology uses multidisciplinary concepts to create the visualization of health data. It is hoped this new technology will be used to influence patient physician interaction and behavior change. Virgil Wong, a New York City-based artist and cognition technology researcher at Columbia University, creates digital portraits of people with chronic diseases. Using a mobile app developed by Wong, designer Katie McCurdy, and their company Medical Avatar LLC, patients create personalized avatars and timelines to more effectively communicate complex medical histories to their doctors. Virgil Wong utilized the data from these studies to create 9 “Symptom Data Portraits,” included in the exhibition. What the patient feels in his or her body is now made visible for others to see. The often subtle, recurring, and distinctive nature of pain is captured in a manner that help clinicians be both analytical as well as compassionate in administering care.
The digital portraits created from studies of people with chronic diseases in the Roanoke and Blacksburg area include shapes of varying sizes and colors to represent specific symptoms over time and are a form of empathic design. The project is presented in four parts: 1) Perspective Gallery Exhibition 2) Workshops with area high schools and VT students 3) Public Lecture “Can a Selfie Make You Healthy” 4) VT Carilion Medical School Creativity and Healing Program Exhibition and Lecture.