[rohrpost] call for papers: The Image in Science (Lund University, Sweden)

Ingeborg Reichle ingeborg.reichle at kunstgeschichte.de
Mit Sep 16 09:55:41 CEST 2009

call for papers to the symposium The Image in Science: Unfrequently
Asked Questions, Nov 6-7 at Lund University, Sweden.

Friday November 6 - Saturday November 7, Dept of Arts and Cultural
Sciences, Kulturanatomen, room 202

The symposium will gather 20-30 researchers from the humanities and the
natural and medical sciences in high-level, yet relaxed conversation.

Besides the 4 keynotes, the program allows for approximately 7 paper
presentations of 15 or 20 minutes length. We welcome paper proposals
from attendants within any discipline!

Register  attendance and paper proposals (including title and short
abstract) to  victoria.hoog at fil.lu.se or max.liljefors at kultur.lu.se
before October 1.

Symposium homepage:  http://project.ht.lu.se/bildgruppen/symposium/

Keynote speakers

Luc Pauwels, Prof. Communication studies and visual culture, Antwerpen
Ingeborg Reichle, Dr. Art History, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der
Thomas Söderqvist,  Director of Medical Museion, Copenhagen
Freddy Ståhlberg, Prof. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Lund University;
initiator of Lund BioImaging Center

The Image in Science: Unfrequently Asked Questions
Responses of the humanities to visualism in science

Symposium 6-7 Nov 2009 at Lund University, Sweden.

    * What is the ontology of the computed image in science?

    * How do objectivity, contingency and aesthetics intertwine in
scientific visualizations of non-visual phenomena?

    * How do the hermeneutics of the visual in science and culture relate?

    * What kinds of visual literacy are involved in the interpretation
of data, knowledge and meaning in scientific imagery?

    * How does the image function as interface for interventions into
the body and the world, and how is this functioning understood inside
and outside science?

    * According to which criteria is an image "scientific" anyway?

Computer-aided technologies for visualization have gained momentum as a
crucial tool for the organization and communication of knowledge in the
natural and medical sciences. Remote sensing of sonic and
electromagnetic radiation (EMR), outside the spectrum of visible light,
has radically increased the amounts of accessible data. In the 1870's,
the British Challenger expedition completed around 350 deep sea
soundings across the globe in three and a half year; a century later the
first Seasat satellite registered 25 million soundings in three months.
Similarly, in the medical sciences, technologies like magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) derive enormous
data quantities from the body's interior, without having to resort to
the scalpel.

As a result, sifting information out of immense data masses has become
critical. Computerized algorithms that "translate" data into visual
expressions such as images, maps and graphs have brought forth a
"visualism in science" (Ihde), a new compelling and intriguing visual
culture of science, which extends into popular science, popular culture
and art as well.

>From the micro- to the macrocosmic, science today may seem to have
expanded human vision to encompass every dimension of physical reality.
However, although often framed by a rhetoric of transparence, the
transformed pictorial world of science generates interesting
epistemological and hermeneutic challenges in every part of the process
from data to knowledge and meaning. Pictorial representation in itself
is contingent here, in the sense that there is nothing visual "embedded"
in sonic waves and non-visual EMR – the measured data could as well be
(and sometimes are) represented in textual, numerical or auditory forms.
Furthermore, as colors are linked to variable parameters and threshold
values (false colors, pseudo-colors), any data set could be given an
indefinite number of visual expressions, each displaying a selected
amount of information; thus the look of any given picture reflects
decisions grounded in epistemological as well as communicative and
aesthetical concerns. And as those pictures traverse disciplinary
boundaries and spread into political, commercial and artistic contexts,
they get enveloped in yet other interpretative practices which add to
their layers of signification. In parallel, the conceptualization in the
biosciences of organic life itself as moldable and mimetic (genetic
engineering, cloning) has given rise to notions such as “biopictures”
(Mitchell) and “biofacts” (Karafyllis) which demonstrate the instability
of the reality/representation dichotomy.

The humanities today are accustomed to the notion of the “pictorial
turn” (Mitchell) or “ikonische Wendung” (Boehm) of a late modern
society, in which knowledge and experience are mediated predominantly
through images. Yet, the contemporary role of the image in science -
where the pictorial turn has been perhaps the most revolutionary – and
the intersections between the visual arts and the sciences have only
recently begun to be addressed by the humanities (Stafford, Elkins,
Reichle, et al.). The symposium “The Image in Science: Unfrequently
Asked Questions” aims to continue and deepen those discussions by
bringing together scholars from a wide range of disciplines, from the
humanities and the natural sciences, in a dialogue on the meaning of
visualism in science.

victoria.hoog at fil.lu.se             max.liljefors at kultur.lu.se