Entanglement of Imaging and Imagining of Nanotechnology

NanoEthics 5 (2):185-193 (2011)
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Abstract

Images, ranging from visualizations of the nanoscale to future visions, abound within and beyond the world of nanotechnology. Rather than the contrast between imaging , i.e. creating images that are understood as offering a view on what is out there, and imagining , i.e. creating images offering impressions of how the nanoscale could look like and images presenting visions of worlds that might be realized, it is the entanglement between imaging and imagining which is the key to understanding what images do. Three main arenas of entanglement of imag(in)ing and the tensions involved are discussed: production practices and use of visualizations of the nanoscale; imag(in)ing the future and the present; and entanglements of nanoscience and art. In these three arenas one sees struggles about which images might stand for nanotechnology, but also some stabilization of the entanglement of imag(in)ing, for example in established rules in the practices of visualizing the nanoscale. Three images have become iconic, through the combination of their wide reception and further circulation. All three, the IBM logo, the Foresight Institute’s Nanogear image, and the so-called Nanolouse, depict actual or imagined technoscientific objects and are thus seen as representing technoscientific achievements – while marking out territory

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