Workshop “The Value of Objects, Materials and Practices”, Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 2:00-5:00pm, Lancaster University, IAS Meeting Room 2-3

This workshop will focus on some of the material artefacts associated with the contemporary development of the life sciences, as well as the forms of work associated with them, especially as these artefacts move across institutional boundaries that might be said to separate the laboratory, the art gallery and the museum.

The Affymetrix GeneChip is but one example of such an artefact, at once a patented technology, a symbol for the more widespead benefits of recent advances in biomolecular science, and basic material for the artistic representation of changing notions of kinship. As reactions to the recent announcement of the sequencing of the Spanish Influenza Virus suggest, however, such mobility is not always welcome.

These contrasting examples raise questions about what happens when biological materials move between different contexts. We are interested in exploring other cases, even those were the biological artefacts at issue lack the high profile of genomic techniques, but are equally thought-provoking or troublesome when they move between contexts.

Chair: Lucy Suchman

Thomas Söderqvist will start the discussion from the perspective of someone interested in how to best display the role of artefacts such as the Affymetrix GeneChip in reconfiguring the organisation of contemporary biomedicine. Brian Forde and Oron Catts will respond from the different perspectives of a biologist with considerable expertise in the analysis of the molecular microarrays and an artist engaged in sustaining a conversation between scientist and cultural critic through the shared material practices of the scientific and artistic ‘laboratory’.

Maureen McNeil and Richard Twine will comment on these interventions from the vantage point of scholars currently engaged in understanding the public visibility and ethical implications of contemporary developments in the life sciences.

See also the webiste: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/depts/history/research/science_art_politics.htm

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