Wissenschaft im Bild : performative Aspekte des Bildes in Prozessen wissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisgewinnung und -vermittlung

Lohoff, Markus; Gerlach, Peter (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : Publikationsserver der RWTH Aachen University (2007, 2008)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Aachen, Techn. Hochsch., Diss., 2007


Science and technology increasingly operate through images. This study focuses on the specific intra-scientific purposes of images as well as the procedures of a mediation of science via images. Based on the hypothesis that scientific images can function as a tool for the dissemination of scientific knowledge, this study offers a critical evaluation of the emancipatory potential of these images. Knowledge-constituting processes as well as processes regarding the dissemination of knowledge are seen as active processes, which interact with the environment. So-called ‘soft’ criteria are of particular importance, such as styles of thought, social influences, and especially aesthetically motivated acts. Epistemic work is based on different codes or modes of representation and does not proceed in a linear way. The same is true for the knowledge-oriented use of images. Thus, the scientific construction and use of images are governed by developments in technology and the media, epistemic styles or influences of various visual cultures. As well, the individual goal-directed, intentional act is determined dynamically. Scientific image-making with its media transformations can often be equated with the iterative process of an experimental or instrumental approach. Scientific images and scientific texts influence each other. A discussion of scientific images also has to consider the impact that these images have on everyday communication. If in science and technology, they perform a catalytic role (e. g. in analytics, simulation or construction), in everyday communication, they function as stereotypical icons without any profound cognitive function. The gap between the analytic and scientific use of images and their superficial perception in everyday communication is obvious. Art history, however, offers tools which enable the critical analysis of images. They allow revealing the meaning and the construction of images, including historical and cultural conditions, stylistic influences as well as aspects of their aesthetic composition or their impact on the recipient. The numerous interdependencies between art and science lend further justification to the art historical approach. Above all, the aesthetic appeal of scientific images prompts the question as to whether a conscious combination of science and aesthetics could facilitate the mediation of science on the one hand and promote a general awareness of visual cognitive processes on the other.