Tuesday, June 30, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] artists and atoms: fission and fusion

Dear Yasmin colleagues,

Today we finish our June discussion on Artist and Atoms: Fission and Fusion

I think the main question the discussion has raised in my mind is how natural
phenomena become culturally embedded, and the history of the cultural loading
we attach to natural phenomena.

We are ignorant of most phenomena that are going on in the world around us.
At a particular point of time, a phenomenon ( photosynthesis, nuclear fission,
planetary orbits, genetic mutations) become part of our consciousness
and cultural
focus. Artists place an important role in this process, and indeed at
the birth of the atomic
age a natural process of nuclear fission became part of the scenario of a world
war  followed by proposals for 'atoms for peace', artists were part of
the 'cultural
imaginary'. One of he largest applicationof nuclear radioisotopes is
in medecine , we had very
few posts about this, ( or polonium in devices that reduce
static electricity). In a different society with a different history,
a natural phenomenon
will not have the same cultural value. If ITER succeeds, nuclear
fusion will be seen in a new
cultural light.

In some societies with 'animist' belief systems, phenomena were often imbued
with 'volition', with a value system outside of human society. Maybe
we need a new
kind of animist to be able to look at natural phenomena in new ways !!

At the recent "eye of the storm " storm conference on scientific controversies,
Tommaso Venturini, Researcher, Bologna University presented a talk
Crash! A Short Introduction to Controversies Mapping, using methods
developed by Bruno Latour. For futher information:


He provides methodologies for "mapping" controversies= of course no
maps is ideologically neutral, but Tommaso shows how using different
mapping techiques one can get new understanding of communities
organise themselves around controversies in ways that are replicable
and understandable-almost as a social natural phenomenon. Perhaps
we can work on the ITER nuclear fusion topic at a later time= we had
almost no reaction on this topic. The ITER reactor in being built
in Haute Provence and it would be interesting to map the controversies
around its development.

I have opened a Artists and Atoms: Fission and Fusion discussion on
the YASMIN2 NING for those of you that would like to continue the discussion
on Artists and Atoms: Fission and Fusion

here is the link:



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