fredag den 13. april 2012

Artefakter og metabolisme i historisk lys

Medicinsk Museion
MUSE seminars

Wednesday 25th April, 2012, 15-16.30
Auditorium, Medical Museion
Bredgade 62, Copenhagen

David Pantalony
University of Ottawa and Canada Science and Technology Museum Technology Collections

Examine first, ask what it is later:
The multiple interpretations of 20th century scientific artifacts

The questions of how to deal with artifacts from 1950 to the present is one of the more pressing challenges facing science museums today. Artifacts from this period do not easily escape from their official scientific and historical context. One issue is that curators, scholars, students and the public do not look beyond the name and official function of the objects. As we more carefully examine and interrogate the instruments on their own terms, however, multiple narratives emerge with surprising lessons about science and culture. Open-ended study of the materials, components, esthetics, provenance and construction lead to unexpected paths of inquiry, creating fresh opportunities for display, as well as linkages to other collections and disciplines.

In this talk I present a selection of case studies from the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Due to the relatively young history of science, medicine and technology in Canada combined with several diverse curatorial areas, the collections (and collecting activities) at our museum offer a wide spectrum of artifacts from this period. One way we are exploring this resource is to host an annual artifact workshop that brings together graduate students and faculty from across the country and disciplines to test new methods in our collections. The sessions take place in the storage facility, there are no lectures, and the artifacts take centre stage. These activities are modeled after an experimental collection-based seminar I run at the University of Ottawa. The biggest lesson about these exercises is that there is not one magical method for examining artifacts – it is about the diverse groups that work together on one artifact thus drawing out its abundant possibilities.


Friday 1st June, 2012, 15-16.30
Auditorium, Medical Museion
Bredgade 62, Copenhagen

Hannah Landecker

From the Body as Factory to Eating Information:
A Short History of Metabolism

Metabolism, understood as the chemical conversions of food into bodily matter and energy, has since its formulation as a scientific concept in the nineteenth century been a fundamental aspect of biochemistry, philosophies of life, and to a certain extent, social and political theories of the social body. The elaboration of metabolism and then intermediary metabolism framed the body as a factory or a chemical laboratory for the interconversion of matter and energy by which the outside world and its constituent plants and animals were incorporated and transubstantiated into the metabolizing organism’s body. Claude Bernard observed pithily that “The dog does not get fat on mutton fat. It makes dog fat”; metabolism was central to the practical and physical understanding of the maintenance of the individual body of the eating organism even in the face of the necessity of constantly ingesting the outside world eating others.

In philosophy, metabolism came to occupy a role as part of the defining line between the living and the not living; to metabolize was to live. In social theory, Marx found in scientific accounts of metabolism a fecund source of inspiration for the understanding of exchange, and since that time the idea of social or industrial metabolism societies having metabolisms has played a role in the imagination of systems of individuals as social bodies.

In the metabolic sciences today, there is a marked shift away from classic metabolism, in which a concern with manufacturing and production is being transformed by a concern with regulation and synchrony. Food is as much an informational signal as a chemical substrate, and the timing of its presence is as important as its quantity or content. Metabolism is regulatory mechanism for the organism in a changing environment; it is being re-theorized as a mode of inheritance of environmental conditions, for example in ideas of predictive-adaptive signaling, where the developing fetus uses cues from maternal metabolism to anticipate the nutritional state of the world it will be born into. Such contemporary ruptures throw into sharp relief the historical specificity of previous philosophical, social, and scientific uses of metabolism as a universal and timeless quality of organisms and their autonomy as enclosed and autonomous metabolizing systems.

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