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Transmission in Motion


Performing Science

The field of Science and Technology Studies is not only consolidating itself. It is also becoming increasingly transdisciplinary and dynamic. Sociologists and anthropologists of scientific practice have drawn attention to the performance of scientists and shown how this perspective illuminates the ways in which knowledge is a social product emerging from ‘the mangle of practice’. Others have proposed to conceive of this mangle in terms of a network of interactions between human and non-human actors. Historians of science have shown that knowledge transmission in universities, schools and in public presentations has largely shaped our understanding of science. Media play an important role in these processes, as does the way in which scientists perform, literally and figuratively to mediate their insights. Not only scientists perform, but so do their instruments and the objects under investigation. Barad, as a physicist-philosopher, goes as far as to state that matter is as active as our interpretative frameworks, so that we do not give meaning to matter, but that matter and meaning co-constitute each other. Networks have been replaced by entanglements: instruments have become entangled with their users, and the measurements performed by this mix are but temporary stops in an ongoing form-making process. Since the early modern period and particularly in the 21st-century, media-technological developments “expand the sensible” (Hansen) beyond human experience, challenging the centrality of human experience in measurement even further and raising the question of the relationship between human experience and embodiment, technological agents and data. Art, science and technology meet in experimental approaches that foreground sensation, substance and practice (from STS to START and from STEM to STEAM). These developments affect how science is performed and how this performance may be understood. How to understand the co-performance of humans and technology in scientific practice and transmission of knowledge? How do technology and design inform the way things are known?