Following a workshop recently held in Naples (May 2007), this second meeting will focus on elaborated analyses of how the life sciences visually mastered to manifest the dimensionalities living organisms exhibit when taking shape. Our attention will direct towards scale and pattern of biological objects like embryos, cells and genes. To fully trace the (epistemic) steps of representing these 3D objects, the scientists will offer detailed information about their techniques, tricks and tools when producing and employing images of distinct scales and dimensions. Besides clarifying the process of image construction, they will explicate what their images reveal, what is filtered out, if so, why, and how the images render their research program. Scholars will supply these information with historical case studies on the changing practices of visualization, encompassing specific techniques, model organisms and styles of representation. Along the images they will suppose of controveries that still persist like a palimpset (e.g., fields), and elucidate why it sometimes takes decades until a crucial issue (fate or specification) is visualized realiter. The task of all participants will be to delineate an epistemic archeology of spatial forms which occur naturally beyond the range of unaided vision, e.g., rotating embryos, differentiating cells and their components, the fine structure of organisms, or yet the branching of species in models of evolution. In open discussions we will compare and contrast the differences in handling the images by scientists and humanists.

The workshop fulfills two main purposes, (1) it reconstructs some chapters of the visual biography of genes, cells, and embryos in the life sciences and related specialties (e.g., architecture), and (2) it traces the influence of specific issues, like dimensionality, scale and pattern on biological imagery from around 1800 to the 21st century.

We welcome contributions from young scientists and scholars in such diverse fields like the life sciences, mathematics, scientific illustration, architecture, history and philosophy of science, art history, history of technology and architecture, media and communication studies.

To engage in lively debates, we are especially interested in experimental, visual, conceptual and historical contributions that elucidate and advance the issues and thematic concerns of the transdisciplinary topic how the life sciences represented and (still) represent dimensionality, scale and pattern, how some of these images disseminated into other fields, and how they were used to communicate science.

The deadline for abstract submittal (not more than 300 words, preferably with an image) is

February 15, 2008.

We will inform about the accepted abstracts until March 1, 2008. Selected papers will be published in a Preprint of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in 2009.

Information about the first workshop devoted to “Graphing Genes, Cells and Embryos” can be found at:

For any further question about the workshop, or for submitting an abstract, please send your query/abstract to

[email protected]


Sabine Brauckmann, Science Center, Tartu University, Tartu (Estonia) Denis Thieffry, INSERM ERM206-TAGC, Marseille (France) Christina Brandt, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (Germany) Gerd B. Müller, Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Altenberg (Austria)