To a greater extent than still widely assumed, the German scholar Aby Warburg drew, throughout his life, on the lessons of two of its early episodes: his travels of 1895–96 among Pueblo Indian communities in the North American Southwest, and his residence of 1896–97 in Berlin, which he prized as a center for the study of ethnography, ethnology, and anthropology. Over the next three decades, this pioneering thinker was able to affect a fruitful amalgamation of those disciplines with that of art history (in which he had himself been trained): the origin of a form of cultural studies that continues to exert an extraordinary intellectual allure. Quoting from Warburg’s diaries, notebooks, and correspondence, this newly translated study throws fresh light on a most eventful journey through the realm of ideas.
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.