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Towards Sentience

Parkinson, Clive (2013) Towards Sentience. In: The Handbook of Interior Architecture and Design. Bloomsbury, pp. 304-321. ISBN 9781847887450

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Abstract

A 6000 word chapter, commissioned to scrutinize the place of contemporary art and design in relation to end of life care, and how we die. Science and Art have long been held up as the twin pillars of civilized society, and increased awareness of the impact of design on health and well-being is evidenced by diverse collaborations. Against a backdrop of conspicuous consumption and the global financial downturn, this essay analyses the relationship between design and aspiration for societal well-being, considering how we live our lives, and the manner in which we die. Diagnosis of cancer or dementia, is given to patients in clinical environments by a highly trained clinician. It has been assumed that the design of the environment or the integration of the arts into this space, would be an irrelevance to the patient. Given a diagnosis of any serious disease, we cling to the professionalism and speed of a responsive heath system that will act in our best interest and provide treatment that is well-considered and effective. Considering design and the arts seems ridiculous in the face of illness and are own mortality. Yet, there is a growing body of evidence amongst clinicians, that in the face of illness and death; that the humanities offer medicine something other than scientific reductionism. This chapter focuses on the seemingly tenuous relationship between design and health and assert that its potential impact on future patients is far reaching.

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