Arts & Health


The twenty-first century brings new challenges and creates possibilities to explore the meaning of health, care, and wellbeing, both physical and mental. Rapidly evolving technologies such as robots, self-driving cars, VR technology, deep brain stimulation and non-invasive neurotechnologies, self-tracking devices and visualization technology in medical procedures as well as in culture are but a few examples of emerging and evolving innovations that can only be addressed in multi-disciplinary fashion and ask for creative and critical perspectives combined. In this subfield of ARIAS, artists and humanities scholars collaborate with medical staff, medical scientists, psychiatrists and patients to investigate what it means to be human in a techno-mediated world from the perspective of healthcare. These can range from very practical tools and application to philosophical questions about normative bodies, and questions of identity and ethics. For instance, introducing robots in healthcare upsets our understanding of the notion of empathy as it blurs the distinction between the human and non-human; gaming and VR technology can be used in treatment of PTSD or phobias, but also problematizes seemingly clear borders between mediated images and reality, and raises ethical and philosophical questions; music and cinematic stories and artistic simulations have therapeutic effects on (understanding) certain mental problems such as autism, psychosis or depression that demand further investigation; graphic design can help informing (young) patients about operations.


Rather than focus exclusively on the utilitarian function of interacting with art or partaking in artistic practices for improving people’s health, we thus seek to bring together artists, scientists and humanities scholars of various fields who investigate what a healthy life and disease might mean in today’s world. Art and medicine may be divergent practices, but they can intersect in unexpected and meaningful ways with the potential to shed light on how we demarcate and define these fields, and what it means to be a cognitive and embodied human being in the twenty-first century. As the only city in the Netherlands with two academic hospitals and broadest base of art schools in the country, Amsterdam is the ideal location to explore the mutual interconnectedness of health and culture.


Members of the ARIAS steering committee for this cluster: Jules Sturm (Sandberg), Manon Parry (UvA), Stefanie van Zal (HvA), Marjolein Gysels (UvA), Joyce Lamerichs (VU), Erin la Cour (VU)

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Why is Arts & Health important for ARIAS?

Arts & Health

Amsterdam Research Institute of the Arts and Sciences