Accepted Paper:

Affectivity and data-visualisation entanglements in the (re)invention of Magnetic Resonance Imaging technologies  


Silvia Casini (University of Aberdeen)

Paper short abstract:

I explore the entanglement between affectivity, memory and data-visualisation in the context of the Aberdonian (re)invention of MRI technologies. The parasitical function of material objects coming from the archive and lab ethnography illuminates affectivity and memory in the (re)invention of MRI.

Paper long abstract:

Visualisation is not only a practice to make visible that which is not in sight, but much more a process capable of producing new relations among things, data, spaces and different professionals (Halpern, 2015: 21). By relying upon archive research and laboratory ethnography undertaken in the context of a project on the Aberdeen (re)invention of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technologies, I demonstrate how data-visualization practices around MRI are entangled with memory and affectivity. Instead of focusing on the multi-modal body of the scientist in action to explore the affective turn in STS (Alac 2011, Myers 2015, Vertesi 2015), I pay attention to the dynamism and agency of material objects. Once dug up from archives, laboratory ethnography and oral-history interviews, material objects such as a bacon-slicing machine, a picture from the Middle Ages, a poem, the imprints of an old MRI scanner on the floor of the laboratory function as paratextual elements insisting at the margins of science in the making. With their parasitical function, these objects corrupt the idea of the independent "body" (of data, of an article, of a technological apparatus, etc.) by making it permeable to the parasite. Paratextual elements function as living traces witnessing the role played by the apparatus of memory and affectivity in the (re)invention of MRI.

Panel A15
Intimate entanglements in science and technology