Accepted Paper:

Industrial design, body imaging, and the ultrasonic life room  


Frances Robertson (Glasgow School of Art)

Paper short abstract:

The Dugald Cameron archive at Glasgow School of Art (GSA), informs this interpretation of imaging practices adapted when developing ultrasound equipment for scanning the live foetus in the womb in the 1960s, from new ergonomic concepts in industrial design to traditional life room skills.

Paper long abstract:

Ultrasound scanning of the live foetus in the womb was pioneered in the 1950s and 1960s by Professor Ian Donald, Regius Chair of Midwifery at Glasgow University. This procedure offered an unprecedented view of the unborn child that affected the imagination and understanding of doctors and patients alike. Working with Donald and his team, Dugald Cameron, a recent graduate of industrial design at Glasgow School of Art (GSA) designed the first commercial production version of ultrasound equipment at the start of his career as an influential design educator.

Drawing on the recently acquired Dugald Cameron archive collection of drawings at GSA, this paper considers the range of drawing and imaging practices that were adapted and called into being in this design process, from new ergonomic concepts in industrial design to traditional life room skills. One question to be addressed is the role of the life room and its close study of human anatomy, and the ways in which study of the human form migrated into ergonomic procedures of design drawing. Ultrasound equipment was an imaging technology that was used by human operators in order to peer into other human subjects. While acknowledging the biopolitics of these techniques of body imaging, however, the immediate focus of this paper will be on the drawing strategies and techniques of designers engaging with medical industrial design, using drawing archives and oral testimony from practitioners such as Cameron and some more recent of his successors at GSA in the field of medical imaging.

Panel P055
The Anthropology of Drawing