I was invited by Monika to attend the Experimental Objects workshop hosted by the Storey last month and found it a fascinating event for many reasons. I don’t hang around academics very much and this was my first truely academic event, with material culture academics. The first thing that struck me was how much of a language different fields develop in order to talk to each other and understand each other, jargon if you will. I found that my web jargon was totally useless to me in this context and pondered over this at great length. The second thing was what I can only refer to as “audio hyperlinks” where people would mid-sentence, off the top of their head, be able to quote a seminal paper written by so-and-so during this-or-that year. Made me feel pretty lazy with all my tinyurls. Anyway, this was a really interesting place to be lost in and I thought I’d highlight the best bits and my favorite speakers.
- John Pickstone spoke at length about how to understand art as an experimental process akin to those developed in the latter part of the 19th century in science.
- Bruno Strasser who teaches a class at Yale on the intersections of science and history (don’t know the official title) spoke at length about the work of Alan Boyden, the birth of labs as museums and history of collecting. I really want to read his book when it comes out.
- Finally Gail Davies talked about mice as “objects” of objectivity in scientific research and the problem caused by “virgin births” which is when mice reproduce without a mate or unexpectedly. She discussed the implications of basing objectivity on something that is from nature and by default uncontrollable.
Terribly fascinating and made me rethink what we do as designers in the context of science and experiments. I left the even thinking there was much conversation that needed to happen between the 2 worlds, now only if we could talk to each other in a language we’d both understand, that would be grand.