The aim of the research project Inside out. New images and imaginations of the body is to study how new imaging technologies contribute to redefining the body by making its inside visible on the level of cells. On a more general level, it questions how cultural values impact on science and technology and vice versa. With the use of new imaging technologies, pictures of tiny body fragments are modified into astonishing and aesthetically appealing images that are used in research and in medical practice, as well as in science communication. However, these images also function as visual referents for images of the body’s microcosm in science fiction, commercials and (bio)art. In other words, the production of these images and imaginations of the body takes place in an interface of science and popular culture. We will study how cultural values contribute in the processes of producing, interpreting and using the images, and on how they draw new images of human bodies that may contribute to changing imaginations of the body.
The researchers follow the production processes of medical imaging and study, firstly, in which ways new technologies become a premise in setting new research agendas and, secondly, how cultural values and aesthetic preferences interfere in scientific practices and in science communities’ communication with colleagues, as well as the general public. The project will provide new knowledge on how technologies function in relation to values and aesthetics and how science and technology are interacting with culture. The research design includes following the images from the production process in the laboratory, to the use of them in medical practice and, finally, when they are re-contextualised in popular science, science museums and art exhibitions.
This project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council (NFR) through the Cultural Values Programme (KULVER) 2010-2014.