Biological Times: Media, Technologies, and Architectures of Epistemic Temporality
In recent years, life scientists have contributed to a dramatic shift in our understanding and experience of time. In evolutionary and microbiological laboratories as well as in operating rooms and intensive care units numerous procedures have been developed that aim at expanding the lifespan: from organ transplantation to the control of cellular death and cloning. Although these developments have taken place independently, they converge in the idea that time is not just an external parameter of life, but acts as an »internal operator« of living organisms. Our project aims at historically reconstructing important aspects of these developments by focusing on the media, technologies, and architectures of the modern life sciences.
Drawing on recent sociology of science and the tradition of historical epistemology, we hypothesize that the production and representation of specifically biological times cannot be separated from the emergence, evolution and propagation of complex research machines configuring site-specific materials and matters (instruments, model organisms, inscription surfaces etc.) and typical regimes of signs (e.g., numbers, curves, images). In addition, we assume that these research machines can be used as guiding threads for re-inscribing the specific times of biology – the Eigenzeit of research practices as well as the Eigenzeit of organisms – into the history of modern culture and society.