Re-Enacting the Self in The Archive


Session Title:

  • The Art of Biomedical Imaging

Presentation Title:

  • Re-Enacting the Self in The Archive




  • We seek to construct connections between visual art practice and neuroscientific research studies in the field of Alzheimer’s disease. The method is envisioned as a circulation in a network of four virtual intertwined archival spaces:
    1. The patient;
    2. The art studio;
    3. The Alzheimer’s clinical research laboratory;
    4. The cellular and molecular research laboratory;
    In this process we are documenting the assessment and categorization of Alzheimer’s patients and their exposure to various therapies, as well as laboratory procedures and collecting science materials. Key elements are the visual – ordering – archiving – montage.

    This paper introduces the overall concept of archiving and its circulation on the design framework in relation to the concepts and production of an installation – THE ARCHIVE. The work is analyzed in relation to notions of bodies, fragments and reconstitution activated according to Foucault’s theories of clinical manipulation of records and surveillance, and Mark Dion’s artworks strategies, such as re-creating and critiquing both scientific and artistic processes of cataloguing and display.

    We explore interpretations that objects acquire when they are subjected to artistic processes and re-experienced in a different context. In the laboratory a sentence, a diagram or an MRI is read against the assumptions of medical discourse. The installation uncovers some of the representational strategies produced in the laboratories and searches for similarities between the visual technologies applied by neuroscience and self reflection in the studio; examining that in both contexts, decisions regarding handling, archiving, framing and time happen in parallel. Although if in science the effort to enhance or scale ‘inscriptions’ (Latour, 1986) reflect the power to make believe in the invisible world of scientific research, we propose that in employing artistic methods such as re-tracing, wax casts and edition we are challenging the associations of scientific images to an invisible truth and exploring their potential power to deploy the discourse of autobiographical memory. By recording/re-editing both the studies of Alzheimer’s disease and Lopes under similar neuropsychological examination we operate at a metaphoric level of endless revision of traces, comparing the never-ending chain of representations (scientific archive), to the psychological process that creates identity and integrates personality.