Critical and Clinical Cartographies, architecture, robotics, medicine, philosophy

We find the relation between the development of human–machine interfaces in medical practices and environmental and architectural design in Katherine Hayles’s example of the positron emission topography (PET) scan. Hayles distinguishes between our bodies in the full context of life, and the body as an object for medical practice. Embodiment is the contextualised body. She describes how embodiment is converted into a body through imaging technologies that create a normalised construct as a result of averaged data. In contrast to the body, embodiment is contextual, enmeshed within the specifi cs of place, time, physiology and culture, which together compose enactment. Hayles compares it with the digitisation of books, and notices that we lose something in the process. In molecular biology our body is understood as an expression of genetic information and as physical structure. In the literary corpus it is at once a physical object and a space of representation, simultaneously a body and a message. When we look at bodies and books as pure information we lose the resistant materiality that has always marked our experience of living creatures.

Arie Graafland, Introduction

New Materialisms SeriesEdinburgh University Press (2017)