David Cotterrell

Mirror I - Heirarchy


Output: Artefact

Mirror I: Hierarchy was devised to explore the anxieties and thought-processes of two protagonists within the world of surgery – the patient and the surgeon. The installation considers the concerns and devices by which an impending operation is philosophically contextualised and the way the mind may wander under the catalytic pressure of approaching professional or personal risk. The installation was developed to reveal the shifting assumptions of power that can be developed through manipulation of stereotypes.

As a component of the installation, Cotterrell produced a script in collaboration with the Sri-Lankan screenwriter, Ruwanthie De Chickera. The actor, Simon Kunz performed the roles of both characters. Recorded in isolation from context, without revealing the categorising uniforms of scrubs or gown, the conversation offered an introverted and existential portrait of the both the surgeon and the patient as they prepare for surgery. The outwardly simple video projection offered a snapshot of parallel complex internal negotiations of vulnerability and bravado.

The work was produced as a video installation at the Dartington gallery with support from the Association of Medical Humanities and the Wellcome Trust to coincide with the AMH annual conference, in June 2015.

The conference keynote address was made by Cotterrell in dialogue with Professor of Medical Education (UCL) Roger Kneebone. The Mirror installation script and an illustrated article derived from the keynote presentation were published as chapters within the Cambridge Scholars publication, Risk and Regulation at the Interface of Medicine and the Arts. The video installation has been exhibited subsequently within the Brighton Gallery exhibition, Pilot 1, The Brno Gallery Muz exhibition, Breturn, and within the solo exhibition, ‘Three Mirrors and a Wall’ at Danielle Arnaud contemporary art, London.

Research Output

Mirror I - Heirarchy

This project contains further videos that can accessed via the full case study below.

Research Method

Following five years of interviews and conversations with Prof Roger Kneebone, Cotterrell devised a construct to engage an audience in the ambiguity that may exist within an internal dialogue prior to surgery. In collaboration with the Sri-Lankan Playright, a script was developed for an episodic dialogue.

Key Methodologies:

Full Project Output

REF '21

To learn more about the output, methods and dissemination of this work, explore the full project submission.

Other Projects By

David Cotterrell