Chitra Ramalingam (Yale University) discusses photographic collections within science laboratories
Experimental practice in laboratories sometimes generates vast quantities of visual records. Such sites produce an imperative to analyse, store, and bring order to large collections of experimental images. Laboratory practice thus has a museological dimension rarely acknowledged in science studies, while laboratory image archives – when considered as collections rather than as individual images – have aesthetic and epistemic dimensions rarely explored in histories of art. This talk presents a few examples of modern physical laboratories, including the Kodak Research Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, that have functioned in part as photographic archives and explores the cultural forces under which their photo collections have variously been maintained together, dispersed, or destroyed.