BMBF Collaborative Research Project "Embodied Information"

FU Freie Universitaet Berlin (Institue of Philosophy) and KHM Academy of Media Arts Cologne (Media Science Department)


Analysing the CT 'Viscourse' – Images, Visualisations and Metaphors of a Visionary Paradigm

Kathrin Friedrich, Science Department, KHM Media Art School Cologne


Research Background

According to Steve Woolgar “CT [is] a form of interpretive action (technology as discourse). The visions and discourses of CT will be key to understanding how and where CTs are adjudged a success or a failure. In particular we need to eschew reliance on taking claims and predictions about CT at face value. We need instead critically to analyse the interpretive action involved in their genesis and provenance. … In asking the important questions - How are scientific breakthroughs in CT achieved? What role does interdisciplinarity play in the emergence of new scientific and technology fields? – we can emphasise the discursive dimensions. … we need to investigate the ways in which the reception and use of CTs will be socially distributed.” (Woolgar, 2006, 20)

One possible answer to Woolgars questions can be the following: Interdisciplinarity and convergence are inevitably linked to the visionary potential of converging technologies. 'Visionary potential' understood as visions, images, and metaphors that play a decisive role in the convergence of 'convergence of technologies'. In particular, as long as 'converging technologies' are merely goals of funding policies. Therefore an analysis of the CT discourse as well as the CT 'viscourse' is required to show how these goals will be achieved. This analysis can also show how deep these visions enter the field of technofuturism and transhumanism (cf. Coenen 2006).


Project Goals

The project conducts a ‘viscourse analysis’ of the visual discourses of converging technologies. The concept of 'viscourse' refers to Karin Knorr Cetina and her remarks on 'Viskurse’ der Physik (cf. Knorr Cetina 1999). By analyzing formats and configurations of images, visualizations and metaphors the project shows strategies of visibility and incorporated 'science-fiction visions' of converging technologies. In particular, that involves examining aesthetics as well as the images' genealogies which refer to deeply embedded visual traditions and patterns. Hence, operative and narrative functions along with hidden agendas of the images/visualizations can be reconstructed. How are images arguing for convergence, progress and enhancement? Which kind of already established visual strategies and aesthetics do they use and update? Do visualizations involve a certain 'operative concept'  which leads immediately to actions and materializations?

The project investigates these questions on the basis of case studies as well as documents, reports, and articles referring to converging technologies.



Kathrin Friedrich, MA
Science Department
KHM Media Art School Cologne
Peter-Welter-Platz 2
D-50676 Cologne

Tel: ++49 (0)221 20189 313
Fax: ++49 (0)221 20189 230
Email: kfriedrich[at]