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Presentation at CHAT 2012 in the Panel “Digital Museums, Archives, and Publications”

February 7, 2012

For the benefit of those who missed out but are interested, I am attaching both my prezi presentation and talk cues (which contain sections I did not get to go into depth, given the very short time I had to present). Here they are

Media Physics Talk Cues:

Begin slides

Definition of media physics: explain how the ideas that came up.

Media physics definition

Rationale for choosing scientific objects – one’s own personal interest and also the potentiality it offers

External to slides

Mention the proceedings on the subject at Berlin in 2008. How this influenced the way I am evaluating the terms under which scientific objects operate in

Proceedings from the “Exhibition as Product and Generator of Scholarship” held in Nov 27-28-2008, at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. The conference generated many responses from theorists as well as theorists cum exhibition practitioners in terms of the reciprocity between theoretical epistemology and presentable epistemological forms. Context, narrative, connections, and affect are the common denominators of the papers in this proceeding.

[some of these extracts taken from the above-mentioned conference proceedings that are relevant to some of the questions I’ve raised through the slides..they are mainly notes and personal annotations of some arguments of interest to me in the proceedings. To look at the hundred pages worth documenting different presentations, I suggest going to this link]

In “Thinking Through Objects,” Martha Fleming offers an intervention by giving the example of the book form and how the book formatting of knowledge can be re-represented in the exhibition not as a boring reproduction of long screeds of texts but to work the book form onto the object-matter.

From “ Exhibition Making as Knowledge Production, or: Struggling with Artefacts, Visuals and Topographies” by Walter Hauser

Some of the questions asked with regard to objects and nanotechnology is pertinent when dealing with more abstract sciences where the link between instruments and the end result of such an analysis is less directly obvious.

“Is there actually a nanoscale science [an invisible science], resp [sic?] what is common to all these nanosciences (or rather nanotechnologies)? [it is possibly easier to find that common instrument in genetic sciences than in nanoscale sciences, which is a science of quantum mechanics whose presence is never direct] The objects of research, the research methods used, or rather the science fiction which came with nano from the very beginnings?”

“Is there a new quality of interdisciplinarity emerging on the nanoscale? Do nano and bio gradually fuse or is their mutuality a mere coincidence of scale?”

“What are the origins of the field (and thus historical perspective for a presentation in a museum)? What is new and in which respect? Do we see evolutionary or rather revolutionary developments, and where is the field heading to?”

artefacts, images and dispositive (where a 3-D tableau of the exhibition is employed)

The paper poses a pertinent question as to how theoretical discourse in STS studies can be transposed and translated into contribution towards a an effective object-oriented exhibition that communicates via sensory outputs to a varied audience? I posit a larger question of how critical theory is re-interpreted through the presentation of the object-oriented collection, something which media art has been working on for quite a long time.

What is the politics behind the infrastructure that influences the format of exhibition presentation – something that probably museum studies people can best answer.

Artefacts and images in assemblage and ensembles. How to create a presentation that intersects well while not creating a sensory overload.

Putting stories to the objects…while not presenting the objects mainly as textual of monographs with paragraphs of explication.

In  “Do Things Talk” Thomas Soederqvist and Adam Bencard refer to the current manner of expressions such as “ ‘things that talk,’ ‘evocative objects,’ ‘ideas in things,’ ‘the secret life of things,’ and ‘biographies of things’

Back to slides

Image, Ludic and CSI

Why are films like CSI so popular that similar concepts of narratives of deduction involving the use of object/image oriented props that take on qualities as ‘lifelike’ that they become the other ‘leading characters.’ Human dramas and mis-representation aside, how is the image projected? The images are logical sequences that fill in the knowledge gap that contribute in large to the solution of a crime, whenever such a solution is possible.  However, the lines spoken by the characters after the image-intensive demonstration clinches the deal in connecting what the images are showing with the missing pieces to the mystery. This is no different from how image-intensive sciences have inveigled their ways into public consciousness through the manner in which they are used in the dramatic narration of facts and events in the media, even if these images are ‘doctored’ out of number-intensive algorithms, complex integrals, and number series, with underlying clues less obvious to the untrained eye, and certain sections exaggerated to up the ante of the excitement. CSI is like a funhouse of facts, problem-solving and critical review.

Closing remarks

Any interrogation with the object of study obviously requires a rigorous knowledge of the subject. However, if one lacks the traditional training that accompanies that competency, can the narrativizing and contextualizing of these objects help in providing a formal for of auto-didactism. This is therefore not merely the creation of course kits in immersive learning experiences found in special educational corners set up for the public, especially children, where rules of established learning is layered over by attractive technological features. It is about ways of learning that uses the knowledge tools one already possesses to urge one forward towards more ‘alien’ territory yet buoyed by what one already knows.  The creation of a platform that will enable this move forward is obviously highly necessary for the furtherance of true interdisciplinarity. How can a humanist think visually, haptically and even mathematically when he/she have been ‘trained’ out of a natural aptitude for such forms of thinking?

How do these instruments function as objects that will enable theorization and also contextualizing of the history behind scientific theories and forms of epistemology? While there has been much work done with classical sciences in terms of the role of objects in the furtherance of knowledge classes, in the more abstract sciences of the last and current century, one’s understanding of the objects is lost because more mediation is required to make the connection between the tangible and simple objects (such as the prism of the telescopes) that function as one of the empirical mediator within the mathematical equations of electromagnetism, momentum and vector space that allow the demonstration of special relativity. Of course, development in computational sciences now enables the development of applets and simple animations that demonstrate what were hitherto thought experiments. While such abilities encapsulate the bounds of the concepts involved in the shaping of such ideas, theories and proofs neatly, the applets and self-contained virtual modules do not necessarily help in understanding, in material form, the series of events and objects that have contributed to a series of networked potentialities where such ideas later bore fruit. If one can create a database or archival network that will allow one to build connections between the present and discovered or yet-to-be-discovered past through a series of objects that may be hand-crafted, machine-made, programmed or digitally-constructed and even mathematically explicated, this will be a sort of new museum that will encourage not only the curation of the wondrous and curious, but also as a platform and space for cutting-edge research and theorizing. Additionally, it is important to note that image-forming apparatus act as that phenomenological intersection between experiment and theory.

The purpose is to connect instruments of the past with the instruments of today, and to understand how these instruments are apparatuses for epistemic formations and cultural constructions within an interdisciplinary context. The work is not attempting to situate the virtual/digital space against the actual, but to view how the affordances of each can complement and even enhance the experience involved in working with the objects. This is especially important in all forms of interdisciplinary work ie humanities looking at the sciences; art looking at the sciences and even science looking at art. The question is, how do we construct a pedagogical platform that can move between these two different spaces operating on different time, spatiality and ‘physicality’?

If there is time, to show audience how the Waywiser navigates and also the web applets, as well as talk more about the E-curator.

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