As part of the Medicine and Photography Student Selected Component at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (2011), Max Lichtenstein experimented with a visual language to talk about pain.
‘This project is based on my own personal experience of pain. I am exploring the medical concept by using people, objects and metaphors to communicate this experience. I fractured my collarbone playing football and over the following weeks and months developed an intimate relationship with this sensation. Modern medicine had a profound influence on this relationship — I’ve been under the surgeon’s knife and woken up, after a dose of general anaesthesia, a bionic man.
Pain is hard to vocalise, as it is an invisible experience. However, it is both an emotional and physiological expression of human distress. Repeatedly talking about the pain I was in became tiresome and didn’t help to portray the way that I was feeling. Therefore, using a visual language to talk about my experience of pain has enabled me to address the way I was feeling retrospectively and this helps to bring closure to that period of my life.
Photography offers a physical manifestation of an invisible sensation. I feel that this is a valuable tool and that I have developed a greater understanding of my experience by developing this portfolio and using a visual language to talk about it.’