Project Description

Epic Hand Washing in a Time of Lost Narratives

Epic Hand Washing in the Time of Lost Narratives is a speculative remix that focuses on the action of washing, juxtaposed with extracts from literature written in or about a time of pandemic. The quotes address the horror of being sick, the fear of becoming infected, the grief of loss, as well as the mundane life of quarantine, expanding the subject or directive to “wash your hands” during COVID-19 into a centuries-long story of washing, illness, and sheltering in a safe place.

The project is an iteration on A Kitchen of One’s Own, created for the media wall in the Photographers’ Gallery, London. This iteration of the project displays a set of 68 videos from the Epic Kitchens dataset that were trained for machine learning with the verb “wash” and the paired noun “hand.” This speculative remix juxtaposes a dataset of texts curated by the authors—selections of quotes from literature written during or about pandemics such as the bubonic plague and the global influenza pandemic of 1918-19.

To suggest a quote for the project complete the Epic Hand Washing Quote Submission form. The project was developed for Unthinking Photography, a resource from The Photographers’ Gallery that explores photography’s increasingly automated, networked life. The source code CC v1.0 Universal is available on GitHub.

Faculty Credits – xtine burrough, Dale MacDonald

Additional Credits – Sabrina Starnaman

Visit the online exhibition Epic Handwashing hosted by the Photographer’s Gallery.

Project Gallery

Epic Hand Washing Gallery 1
Epic Hand Washing Gallery 2
Epic Hand Washing Gallery 3


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