Role: Andrew Mellon Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
I am an Andrew Mellon Post-Doctoral Research Fellow working on the Mellon-funded Pilot Project toward the creation of a V&A Research Institute.
My research is concerned with ways of studying of things and the thinking that they allow, focusing in particular on overlaps between the material cultures of science, technology, craft and play.
My doctoral project, 'Scientific Playthings: Artefacts, Affordance, History', looked at three 19th-century scientific instruments that become toys – the string surface model, the Crookes radiometer and the gyroscope – as case studies to explore the understanding that things afford at the levels of encounter, production, use and re-appropriation. I argued that considering instruments as playthings restores to the artefacts their mobility and transformability, and brings attention to the evolution in what they offer to action, perception and understanding.
My interest in how we learn from made things and from making processes is very much shaped by my background in practice. I gained a BA in Graphic Design (American University of Beirut, 2001) and an MA in Book Arts (Camberwell College of Arts, 2004) before taking an MRes in Humanities & Cultural Studies at the London Consortium (Birkbeck, University of London, 2009) where I also completed my PhD (2013).
Selected Published Writings/ Papers
‘[Reviews] Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monchaux MIT Press, 2011, 250 pp. (140
colour illus.), ISBN 9780262015202’, long review in ‘Critical Quarterly’, Volume 54, Issue 3 (October 2012), pp. 121–125
‘Instruments as Playthings: an alternative methodology for the study of scientific artefacts’, article for a special issue on ‘Philosophical Toys Today’ in ‘Teorie vědy/Theory of Science’, Vol 35, No 2 (2013).
‘What I do with Books’, artist’s essay in Sarah Bodman ed., ‘Artist’s Book Yearbook 2010-2011’ (Bristol: Impact Press, 2009), pp. 68-75
Selected conference papers:
‘Instruments as playthings: an alternative methodology’ (24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine - University of Manchester, UK - July 2013)
‘The Radiometer’s Glass Bulb’ (‘Knowledge in a Box: How Mundane Things Shape Knowledge Production’ - Interdisciplinary workshop, Kavala, Greece - July 2012)
‘Spinning Gyroscopes: the ‘Go’ of Operative Understanding’ (ICOHTEC 39th Annual Meeting: Technology, the Arts and Industrial Culture - Escola Tècnica Superior d’Enginyeria Industrial, Barcelona, Spain - July 2012)
‘Scientific Playthings: The Afterlives of Scientific Instruments’ (Scientific Instrument Commission conference: ‘Instruments, Texts, and Images’ - Cabinet of Astronomy & Physics and Museumslandschaft Hessen-Kassel, Germany - October 2011)
‘The Making and Unmaking of a Scientific Instrument’ (British Association for Victorian Studies annual conference: ‘Composition & Decomposition’ - University of Birmingham, UK - September 2011)
‘Playing Mathematical Geographies’ (Royal Geographical Society of Britain IBG annual conference: ‘The Geographical Imagination’ - RGS, UK - August 2011)
‘Collecting in Art as System of Thought’ (‘Collecting and Gathering: Making Worlds and Staking Claims’ - Columbia University graduate conference, New York, USA - May 2009)