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Biomedicine in museums

Doctors, patients, scientists and their seductive objects — tokens of affection and devotion

By November 19, 2007No Comments

Yet another nearly missed conference: the Design Research Group (Anna Moran, Sorcha O’Brien and Ciáran Swan) are organising a one-day conference titled “Love Objects: Engaging Material Culture” on the relationships between people and their objects, to be hosted by the Faculty of Visual Culture, National College of Art and Design, Dublin, 14 February 2008. Dead-line for papers was last Friday — but maybe one can attend without a contributed paper?

Here is the aim of the conference:

The relationship between people and their objects is a complex and multifaceted one, which is continually negotiated between the material and the immaterial. Objects are used as tokens of affection, symbolic gestures and statements of devotion and can be represented, employed and appropriated in a multitude of ways. They carry out important roles in our relationships with each other, either as bearers of significance, or through embodiment, engagement or control. The seductive quality of objects can also mediate our relationships with them, as they engage our emotions in both subliminal and visceral ways. In doing so they facilitate the projection and subversion of identities, and the creation of the contexts in which they operate.

This is obviously very significant for any sci/tech/med museum, including our own medical collecting and display work — every single topic and theme vibrates of relevance:

  • Mind – memory, nostalgia and symbolic value; collecting, hoarding and losing objects; objects and rites of passage; the representation of love of / in objects; objects and devotion
  • Body – sex, desire and romance; wrapping, covering and wearing; kitsch and ironic objects; the queer and the camp; objects as tools in sustaining / subverting gender roles; objectification and commodification
  • Environment – the role of objects in the construction and performance of identities and relationships in public / private spaces; green objects and sustainable design
  • Networks – mediating, signifying and negotiating relationships, including the interpersonal, the group and the political

How could we miss it?

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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