Thesis Info

Thesis Title
The Aesthetics of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Setting MRI in Motion from the Scientific Laboratory to an Art Exhibition
Silvia Casini
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
Queen's University, Belfast (UK)
Thesis Supervisor
Prof. Desmond Bell, Dr. Des O' Rawe
Supervisor e-mail
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Visual Studies and Film
Languages Familiar to Author
English, Italian, German
URL where full thesis can be found
MRI, brain, aesthetics, sculpture, image, cinema, visualization, medicine, body, laboratory, experimental subject, exhibition
Abstract: 200-500 words
This research project examines the aesthetics of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), a scientific technique that generates images of the body (and particularly, the brain) for scientific and medical purposes. By using a variety of approaches (philosophy, visual studies, curatorial practice) and materials (artworks, exhibitions, scientific experiments, interviews with artists) the thesis develops new methods and contexts relevant to the processes by which MRI is resituated in gallery spaces and cinematic environments. Part I, Histories, offers the historical and philosophical background for MRI, examining the correspondences and frictions between MRI and earlier image-generating techniques, such as the camera obscura, chronophotography, photography and x-ray. Descartes’ body-mind dualism provides the philosophical framework for the vision promoted by these techniques. Part II, Convergences/Divergences, focuses on concepts such as mirror, portrait, face and grid all present in the MRI process. This section reassesses notions of identity and portraiture by juxtaposing MRI to MRI-based artworks and, beyond that, to portraiture in cinema. Part III, Passages, further explores the concepts mentioned above by anchoring them to my curatorship of a Marc Didou exhibition, a place where MRI, sculpture and cinema mingle, and where my experiences have enabled me to approach the research topic as an ‘experimental subject’. In its engagement with a wide range of critical debates and creative practices in film and visual studies, this thesis offers a productive encounter between theory and practice. It directly intervenes in the art-science debate by creating a challenging encounter between scientific and artistic practices outside artist-scientist collaboration. Furthermore, it envisages a future for film studies that can be more receptive to a wider array of visual and plastic art forms.