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: Richard Haley, ‘Experimenting with Extreme Cold’

Richard Haley (Physics, Lancaster University) started by thanking the organizers for a chance to talk to a totally different community, emphasizing the experimentality and importance of this interdisciplinary workshop. Furthermore, he invited the participants of the workshop to visit and explore his lab. Haley opened his presentation by explaining that the pursuit of extreme cold is a never-ending quest towards the “infinity” of the absolute zero of temperature at a very chilly -273.15 degrees Centigrade. He argued that the historical development of low temperature physics is a long story of cooling things down to see how they behave, with the hope that new physical discoveries will be made, and recognised. When the experimenters get lucky, Haley pointed out, these new discovered behaviours can be further exploited to create new technologies and tools to cool lower, and the cycle continues.

Workshop 2: Wolfgang Ernst, Experimenting media-temporality (Pythagoras, Hertz, Turing)

Professor of media theories Wolfgang Ernst (Humboldt University) opened his presentation by stating that the subject of this workshop, ‘experimentality as event’, touches a crucial figure of contemporary epistemology, especially when we take epistemology in its processual, time-based meaning as defines by cybernetics which is – taken by its original self-definition – the insight into ‘Circular Causal and Feedback Mechanisms’ (Heinz  von Foerster, 1949). Consequently, Ernst proposed that we investigate the processuality and eventuality of media-enhanced experimentation.

Workshop 2: Jonathan Bird, Open-ended Research in the Wild

Jonathan Bird (Pervasive Interaction Lab, Open University) gave an overview of three projects which involved rapid prototyping novel technologies and testing them ‘in the wild’, rather than in a laboratory: a wearable tactile vision sensory substitution (TVSS) system; a participatory curation system for a film festival; and an interactive art installation for a music festival. Bird explained that the motivation for developing the TVSS was scientific whereas the two other projects had artistic goals. However, he argued, the development process in all three projects was very similar, suggesting that there is some common ground between art and science when they adopt an open-ended experimental approach. Bird consequently referred to the project ‘E-Sense’ ( which promotes speculative, interdisciplinary research, combining HCI, philosophy, computer science and psychology. He explained goals of the ‘E-Sense’ project in terms of building useful sensory augmentation devices and generating novel insights into sensory, bodily and cognitive extension.

Workshop 2: Henning Schmidgen, The Interval as Event: Helmholtz's Physiological Time Experiments

Henning Schmidgen (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin) opened his paper with a brief introduction of his position and field of expertise. Schmidgen, as a Berlin-based historian of science with a background in psychiatry and Deleuzian philosophy, voiced a special interest in the history of the experimental life sciences of the 19th and early 20th century. He explained how he is currently finalizing a larger project concerning the history of short time measurements in physiological and psychological laboratories, roughly between 1850 and 1930. Schmidgen described how the corresponding time experiments are well-known under the name of ‘reaction time measurements,’ and they have a routine existence in contemporary neurophysiology, brain research, psychology, and more broadly the cognitive sciences. He followed in arguing that the emergence and evolution of physiological and psychological short time measurements is intrinsically connected with the advent of social and cultural modernity.

Workshop 2: Day 1 - Discussion

Discussion following the presentations of the first day of the workshop focused around six main themes: a dialectical tension with structure, non-idiomatic, use of the term experiment, unpredictability, image-breaking and image-making in terms of the end of art, and similarity and difference between genres.

Exhibition - Dark Places

Commencing next week at the John Hansard Gallery, Southampton.

'Dark Places uncovers sites of secrecy and technology across Britain. Commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and co-curated with the Office of Experiments, SCAN and the John Hansard Gallery, the exhibition presents new artists' works that explore spaces and institutions below the radar of common knowledge.'

Experimenting on ‘The Secret You’

On Tuesday 20th October 2009, as a part of their long-standing series ‘Horizon’, BBC2 screened an episode ‘THE SECRET YOU’ where Professor Marcus de Sautoy explored the issues of experimentality in relation to human self-awareness. The Finding Moonshine blog describes the programme in the following way: ‘[t]o find out what progress they are making Marcus becomes a human guinea-pig in a series of mind probing experiments. He begins by asking when our self awareness emerges and witnesses a cunning test that convincingly reveals a child’s sense of self before they are even capable of talking about what they are feeling. The experiment begs a question: are we alone in the world in being aware of ourselves?’ (

Workshop 1- Brian Wynne, ‘Experiment, memory and social learning’

Brian Wynne’s (CESAGen, Lancaster University) presentation, after the global perspective on experimentality illustrated by previous papers, was focused on the local approach in the context of sheep farmers' history of post-1986 radioactive fall out. Wynne opened his paper by referring to Rheinberger’s concept of experimental persistence, presenting the experimental practises of science as unsystematic, accidental, arbitrary and blind. He presented the system of production as that which does not immediately facilitate learning but obstructs it, mainly through the failure of memory in scientific bodies and groups.

Workshop 1 - Cornelius Borck, ‘Dancing With the Brain: Voodoo Science, False Colours, and Attentive Failures’

Cornelius Borck’s (Institute for History of Medicine and Science Studies, University of Lübeck) presentation followed the theme of the appropriation of simulation by science with a strong sense that one cannot talk scientifically about any topic without it.

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