Participants (of which I interviewed six) give their time, information and biosamples to this study for several reasons. Many take part to ‘help out’ and advance research. Many also take part due to curiosity: they are interested in the research and end up taking part in multiple studies because of this. Finally, the free health screening that is part of Airwave is also an incentive for participating because similar commercial health screenings can be costly.
One participant likened their individual data in the study to being ‘a drop in the ocean’ that is the Airwave cohort: they don’t know what research will come from their data and are aware that many studies might ‘come to nothing’ and not have much impact.
However, they know that studies need to be replenished with willing participants in order to advance medical progress and are happy to offer their time for this on the off-chance a groundbreaking ‘once in a blue moon’ study will arise from their contribution.
I made this artwork from the view of the participant during the screening process, as though they are sitting within the three-dimensional space of the clinic. Looking down at themselves, they see the multicoloured trails of data points collected by the study travelling through the ‘window of consent’ and dropping into the blue cohort ‘ocean’. Far away on the horizon, researchers are analysing the cohort data, and the reason for this distance is that when a participant is taking part in a screening, this future research is not at the front of their minds.