The World Health Organization recommends that average noise levels in hospitals should be lower than 35 decibels in hospital treatment rooms and 30 in wards. Despite the perceived expectation for hospitals to be places of quiet rehabilitation and recovery, research tells us that noise within hospitals is contribuiting negatively to the well being of patients, families and staff. Issues include:
• Triggering response by the sympathetic nervous system thereby increasing cardiac work
• Increased blood pressure
• Having an adverse effects on respiratory muscle function
• Increased sedation requirements in critically ill patients
• Contributing to sleep disturbance
• Causing stress reaction
• Impairment of immune function
• Decrease in weight gain
• Impaired communication with staff and family – especially for mechanically ventilated patients
• Contributing to hearing loss
• Causing unrest for patients while under heavy sedation or being mechanically ventilated, who appear to be sleeping
In classical mechanics, a Harmonic Oscillator is a system that when displaced from its equilibrium position, experiences a restoring force proportional to displacement. The Harmonic Oscillator project is an Arts and health collaboration conducted between the UK and Australia 2014-2017. As a project of artistic research, this title examines many forms of displacements including that of patients experiencing illness and that caused by excess noise as well as the restoring force potential from embedding an artist’s practice in this environment.
By allowing artist Vic McEwan to have access to critical care of the hospital space to explore these issues, we pose the question "What contribution can a contemporary artist make to these real world issues and to the human aspect off illness and recovery.