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Entanglements of Instruments and Media in Investigating Organic Worlds


Experimental arrangements rely on a range of different kinds of instruments and media whose identity and relationship to one another is unstable. The seminar series highlights how, in experimental investigations of organic worlds, instruments cannot be clearly separated from the media that they probe.

In some experimental settings in the life sciences, the media being probed is an organism or its parts. In this sense, organic materials are treated as kinds of excitable media that can manifest responses to inquiry. Yet, organisms or their parts can in turn act as both media and instruments. They can be used as measuring apparatus, their responses indicating a sensing or reading of phenomena otherwise imperceptible. They can function as models or exemplars of natural processes, organic or non-organic, aiding the conceptualization of particular phenomena. In many experimental spaces, the entanglements of instruments, media and organic worlds challenge the delineation of organisms or their parts as discernable subject matter. In many situations instruments and media become indistinguishable, as in the digital media through which computer graphic models and simulations are rendered. In this sense, instruments are media for enacting vital processes, artefactual iterations of the phenomena of life.

The seminar series explores the roles of instruments and media for investigating organic worlds at various scales and in various settings. The sites of these experimental investigations will also be examined, to highlight the scenes of inquiries, the actors engaged in them and their social roles.

STS Seminar Series 2013-2014 Poster 

Series Organizer: Joan Steigerwald
Series Coordinators: Kelly Ladd; Cameron Murray

The 2013-2014 STS Seminar Series is sponsored by Situating Science Cluster Grant, iSTS, Department of Natural Science, Faculty of Fine Arts, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, Faculty of Science, Bethune College, and the Canadian Research Chair in Sustainability and Culture.

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Image, "Zooxanthallae", by Nadir Balan
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