Thursday, 24 February 2022
16:00 – 18:00 CET
Jan van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht + online
Reading two texts on the politics of bio-imaging, automation and 3-D computation. With Jara Rocha, Femke Snelting, Silvia Casini, Antye Guenther and Flora Lysen
In their forthcoming book Volumetric Regimes: material cultures of quantified presence (Open Humanities Press, 2022), authors Jara Rocha and Femke Snelting bring together several years of discussing and working with artists, software developers and theorists who detect, track, print, model and render volumes. We will read and discuss the chapter “Invasive Imagination and its Agential Cuts”. The authors argue that tomography, a set of digital techniques which has become ubiquitous in the medical imaging field, produces “exclusionary boundaries,” i.e. that they generate outcomes according to pre-established categorizations and norms of the human body. Zooming in on the example of the Open Source “3-D Slicer” software, they show how digital cutting is part of a culture of quantification, and naturalised as a scientifically objective gesture. Rocha and Snelting challenge this dominant imagination of biomedical informatics and mount an “affirmative critique” by proposing technical tweaks and changes, thus opening up the possibility of “oblique, deviating, unfinished and queer cuts.”
The second reading is from a recently published book by Silvia Casini, Giving Bodies Back to Data: Image Makers, Bricolage, and Reinvention in Magnetic Resonance Technology (MIT Press, 2021), which traces the development of the first nuclear magnetic images of a lemon and a mouse in the 1970s to very recent new scanning techniques that would allow for “personalized and predictive” medicine. Casini pays special attention to the work of artists who collaborate with image makers to reflect on the (often forgotten) craftsmanship that is key to making medical images, as well as the experiences and forms of the body that cannot be captured by quantitative data generated by the machine.