The Technical Image: A History of Styles in Scientific Imagery


The Technical Image: A History of Styles in Scientific Imagery Edited by Horst Bredekamp, Vera Dunkel and Birgit Schneider

Synopsis: In science and technology, the images used to depict ideas, data, and reactions can be as striking and explosive as the concepts and processes they embody—both works of art and generative forces in their own right. Drawing on a close dialogue between the histories of art, science, and technology, The Technical Image explores these images not as mere illustrations or examples, but as productive agents and distinctive, multilayered elements of the process of generating knowledge. Using beautifully reproduced visuals, this book not only reveals how scientific images play a constructive role in shaping the findings and insights they illustrate, but also—however mechanical or detached from individual researchers’ choices their appearances may be—how they come to embody the styles of a period, a mindset, a research collective, or a device.

Opening with a set of key questions about artistic representation in science, technology, and medicine, The Technical Image then investigates historical case studies focusing on specific images, such as James Watson’s models of genes, drawings of Darwin’s finches, and images of early modern musical automata. These case studies in turn are used to illustrate broad themes ranging from “Digital Images” to “Objectivity and Evidence” and to define and elaborate upon fundamental terms in the field. Taken as a whole, this collection will provide analytical tools for the interpretation and application of scientific and technological imagery.

Published: April 2015 | ISBN: 9780226258843

Mini-bio: Horst Bredekamp is professor of art history at the Humboldt University of Berlin and a permanent fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. – University of Chicago Press

Mini-bio: Vera Dünkel is a research affiliate with the “Das Technische Bild” research project. – University of Chicago Press

Mini-bio: Birgit Schneider was the postdoctoral fellow of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation at the Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam. – University of Chicago Press

In my hunt for books on scientific illustration I have come across few that analyse how images actually aid communication and understanding of science. The Technical Image promises to do this by exploring technical imagery as a “process of generating knowledge”, using historical case studies. It aims to provide analytical tools for creating and understanding scientific illustrations. The Technical Image is due to be published in April 2015. – From 10 Great Books on Scientific Illustration

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