I’m todays blogger at #ntnumedicine, the official blog of the Medical Faculty at NTNU – presenting our research project and film for a new audience. Excited to see if we get any feedback from the readers! You can read the blog post here.
When we say our project is interdisciplinary, we are actually referring to several things at once. First, we are situated at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, which says something (although it could only be a fancy name). I would argue that it is more. The research undertaken at our department is heavily influenced by Science and Technology Studies as well as Gender Studies, both quite interdisciplinary and dynamic fields. Second, the three main project participants in our project have come to these fields of research along different academic and disciplinary paths; sociology, anthropology and art history, respectively. Finally, our department has extensive collaborations with both engineering and medicine, which is also true of our project – at least in terms of getting to know each other’s work through interviews, fieldwork and the making of a film about medical images. Our post doc Manuela Perrotta did fieldwork and interviews at the imaging laboratory headed by Kjartan Wøllo Egeberg, Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine and Merete Lie has previously collaborated with Arne Sunde at the Fertility section at St.Olav’s Hospital. In many ways, the film worked as a boundary object between the researchers and others involved. During the process we were also faced with questions about our own research and approach, having to negotiate the framing and approach as we went along.
Last autumn, when our film had it’s premiere, we therefore chose to have two screenings at different sites at NTNU to reach audiences from different research fields; in the Black Box at the Department of Art and Media Studies, belonging to the Faculty of Humanities at Dragvoll campus, as well as a screening in the 1902-building at the Medical Faculty at Gløshaugen campus. The overall feedback n the film was positive; they found the topics interesting, the film well made and aesthetically fascinating. However, we realized we could have worked more with getting into a real dialogue with the scientists on the epistemology of the medical images, as they are produced for and used in different contexts. Actually, the scientists thought we were to careful in our description of medical images, not giving enough emphasis to the fact that a lot of these images weren’t from inside the body at all – but samples from cell lines grown in the lab. However, although the scientists know a lot about their own and clinical use of medical images (which we learnt a lot about during the process!), they do not necessarily reflect as much on how these images will be used and interpreted differently in other contexts, nor the fact that visualisation has a cultural history we are leaning on in the production, use and interpretation of images, either consciously or subconsciously.
Image above: Human Fetal Lung Fibroblast Cells (MRC-5 Line). Source: Microscopyu.