Workshop 4: Ilana Lowy, ‘‘Designer babies’: embryos and foetuses as experimental objects’

Ilana Lowy (Centre de Recherche Medicine, Science Santé et Societé (CERMES), CNRS, Paris) opened her talk stating that the dream of deciding the baby has a long tradition and practical as well as emotional importance. Lowy emphasised that it is a small object by volume but very important politically. She proceeded in explaining the recent development of perfection in medically assisted reproduction as a domesticated technique in France (women try to forget rather extraordinary measures that lead to pregnancy, naturalising stress). 

Workshop 4: Gail Davies, ‘Moving mice: Managing emergence in experimental systems‘

Gail Davies (Department of Geography, UCL) opened her presentation stating that her paper is about deviants, mutants, virgins and rogues. Davies emphasised, however, that these are not her terms, but are used by her respondents to talk about the animals in their care. She explained that these are people managing the range of genetically altered mice used in contemporary biomedical research. Further, Davies argued that the terms take us back to the monstrous bodily overspills of early taxonomy. However, she pointed out that the context here is twenty-first century biology. Therefore, Davies proposed that these terms emerge as animal caretakers and scientists seek to understand the challenge that spontaneous mutations in laboratory mice present to their use as experimental objects.  Unexpected happenings in the mouse house either herald a useful new strain of research animal, or they are culled. Gail Davies stated that she is interested in where and when these different outcomes occur – the difference difference makes as it were.  Being a geographer, she read this through the spatiality of these experimental forms, using site as the basis from which to explore whether these moments of biological emergence are able to articulate new potential, or remain excessive to the demands of control in experimental systems.   

Workshop 3: Neal White, ‘Experimentality. The Experimental Site’

Neal White (Office of Experiments and Media School, Bournemouth University)  works across media, and in no particular medium at all – creating projects with the Office of Experiments that develop collaborative, social and critical spaces using art methods and art materials. His work operates along the fine line between how art thinks and the effect that art has as a social practice. Neal White has been associated with 0+1, formerly APG, Artists' Placement Group, for several years. Maintaining that art has always pushed the boundaries of the possible in terms of models of social collaboration and networking, Neal White's work looks at how these models can engage with other kinds of knowledge producing structure. The Office of Experiments is a structure for experimental cultural practices. Their work is based on the need for new forms of cultural practice, forms of contemporary artistic production that draw on critical lessons of former experimental movements, artists, thinkers and structures - and that seeks to disentangle these modes and systems of approach from the value systems that underline mass media, financial systems and contemporary art markets.

Workshop 3: Bronislaw Szerszynski, ‘Experimental time and the event of politics’

Bronislaw Szerszynski (Sociology, Lancaster University) opened his presentation stating that he wants to use it as an opportunity to develop some ideas about experimental subjection, the being subjected to an experiment. He proceeded in arguing that the force of experimentality can be used as an analogy to the force of law (Agamben, 1998; 2005).

Workshop 3: Linsey McGoey, ‘Experimental dissidence: economies of credibility in drug regulation’

Linsey McGoey’s  (Science and Technology Studies, Oxford) presentation  can be read below in the original version:

Workshop 2: Karen Juers-Munby, Events between script and freedom: improvising with text in contemporary experimental performance

Karen Juers-Munby (LICA, Lancaster University) in her presentation focused on the eventness of experimental (postdramatic) performances. She argued that the phenomenon of the event often arises precisely through the openly exhibited tension between script and performance.  Juers-Munby explored some contemporary experimental performances that openly exhibit text in performance and in which text or script becomes an acknowledged ‘player’ in improvisation. Using the examples of ‘Forced Entertainment’ and Julia Barclay’s ‘Apocryphal Theatre’ she illuminated the issues of presence and identity in terms of presenting and dis/placing identity. Juers-Munby argued that this new aesthetic forms are not merely formal innovations but can also be seen as political aesthetics.   

Workshop 1 - Discussion - The Age of the Generalised Experiment

Discussion following ‘The Age of the Generalised Experiment’ panel with Michael Dillon and Nigel Thrift explored  three themes: that of the nature of information systems, that of the counter forces to total war, and that of the politics of the security-entertainment complex.

Workshop 1 - Nigel Thrift, ‘The Transformation of Contemporary Capitalism’

Nigel Thrift (Vice-Chancellor, University of Warwick) opened his paper by asking a question: What if there were several ontologies constituting the world? He likened the contemporary social reality to ‘LIFEWORLD INC.’ and proceeded in arguing that there is a new kind of naturalism appearing in the world – although culture is the same, natures differ, thus multiplying ontologies.

Workshop 1 - Michael Dillon ‘Warfare as Experiment’

Michael Dillon (Politics and International Relations, Lancaster University) opened his presentation by pointing to the two main assumptions that his approach is based on. Firstly, he argued that (modern, western, liberal) war is an experimental practise, explaining that war and experiments in science share a similar history. Secondly, Dillon pointed to the fact that war and experimentation not only go together and but are a logical formation – war is the extension of politics by other means and experiment is an extension of war by other means.

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