Helen Knowles

Helen Knowles is an artist based in London. She began her fully funded PhD studentship at Northumbria University in October 2021, under the guidance of Christine Borland, Fiona Crisp and Tehseen Noorani. The proposed title of her project is ‘More-Than-Human Healthcare: A practice-based study of relationships where plant and artificial intelligences look after human health’.

This research focuses on two kinds of non/more-than-human care that tend to human health, not previously considered in tandem. These are: AI doctors and prosthetics, and entities met during psychedelic experiences, that users form a caring relationship with. It will investigate “the moral and cosmic order of technical activities” (Hui, 2017) embodied in these technologies, acceptability and trust of these entities and the shape and feel of these caring relationships.
The project will engage experts and users in the developing area of AI prosthetics and medical imaging, (OsloMet /London AI Centre) in parallel with the emerging use of psychedelics in mental health (King’s College, London) and traditional entheogenic plant medicines used by indigenous Cofan people (Intermundos, Colombia). Adopting a decolonial agenda, the research will address the pressing need to understand the ineffable connections which emerge when non/more-than-human entities look after human beings by engaging human, non-human and more-than-human participants to unpick cosmologies, embedded in these ancient and novel tools of care. This project will make visible the qualities of these intelligent caring agents and the affiliations which emerge when they repair human health. Using methods of staging, performance and film, devised across fine art and ethnography, and employing the digital platform, Discord, the project will develop a new film aesthetic to decenter the human, collaboratively generating urgent new perspectives on sentience and AI carers as active agents to work with and trust.

Link to publications

For further information see: www.helenknowles.com or www.birthritescollection.org.uk
Contact: helen.knowles@northumbria.ac.uk