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Junk & Rubble as Science

This image, “(Untitled)” from the Junk & Rubble photograph series, was featured in the 60 from the 60’s exhibit. I had a hard time finding photographs in the exhibit that strictly connected to Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright’s article “Scientific Looking, Looking at Science”. The article revolved more around science-based photography, such as x-rays, while the exhibit used a social-science approach to capture images that represented the 1960’s. However, I thought this photograph represented a deconstructionist approach to science, as well as embodied ideas of the 1960’s. Thanks to progresses in photographic science, humans have access to views of the body beyond the skin-deep. As stated in the article, “The implication is that new imaging technology in medicine allows the doctor to see the patient with a new vision, one that is beyond human sight.” This changes the way patients view themselves. My own view of my body is absolutely beyond skin-deep. Occasionally, I’ll catch myself thinking about the intricacies of each system of the body that I don’t even have to cognitively consider for my own survival. When I get sick, I imagine these systems in disarray, falling apart. These pipes, to me, connected to this concept. The pipes are ragged, aged, and not connected to anything; hence they are not functioning. I was curious where the pipes came from, what their purpose was in a machine, much like the human body, and what scientifically caused the machine to fall apart. The image as a science has impacted our culture. The article claims that, “Science intersects with other areas of knowledge and culture and draws on those systems with its day-to-day practices.” This makes science-based views inevitable, as shown through my interpretation of this image. Yet, this image is not purely science. It is also representative of the artistic movement of the 1960’s. Not long before this decade, this image would not be celebrated. It would be considered just as the series implies, “Junk & Rubble”, and not be framed or iconized. However, the cultural inhibition of the 1960’s allowed photographers to go beyond the technical definition of “Junk & Rubble” and create art. This connects the scientific, mechanical-based idea of a pipe, to the cultural representation of a nonfunctioning pipe, or junk. The article says that, “scientific looking is as culturally dependent as other practices of looking”, which is a concept well-embodied by this photograph.

Erin

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