Virtual International Conference for Arts in Healthcare

Jill B. Ware and John Henry Blatter presented their research to the Virtual International Conference for Arts in Healthcare (VICAH) on May 6. The 2020 Virtual International Conference for Arts in Health, hosted by Arts in Medicine Projects, theme was: Art Responders in Global Health Crisis and featured global research across the Arts in Healthcare enterprise.

Ware is a choreographer, movement artist, and embodiment virtual reality researcher at VCUarts and Blatter is an installation artist and researcher, who studies connections between identity, body, and self at VCUarts. Over the course of four years, and in collaboration with Dr. John Nestler, VCU School of Medicine Professor and former Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and Physician-Scientist in Residence at VCUarts, they have been working together intersecting technology and movement to form their research project and artistic endeavor: Embodied Empathy

Embodied Empathy is a multi-faceted Embodied Virtual Reality (EVR) that allows for participants to immerse themselves in another’s body through a virtual reality headset. In their presentation to the VICAH, they explained how the Embodied Empathy project has evolved from participants solely experiencing the physical aspects of the technology through sight and touch, to a more emotional experience with the counsel of Dr. John Nestler. The immersive experience not only allowed for ballet students to embody a professional dancer to improve their dance technique, the technology was able to let caregivers, families, and medical staff experience ALS patients’ daily struggles of living with the disease. Participants were able to feel empathy for the people they embodied. This foundational work has allowed Ware and Blatter to later work with other physicians to create training videos for procedural surgery that allows for students to be able to step into the shoes of a professional surgeon in simulation labs. 

To view their presentation at the Virtual International Conference for Arts in Health, click here. (Their presentation begins at 1:08.11).

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