DIGMEX Lecture: “Instruments of Science, Tools of Occultism: On Photography, Auras, and the Study of Religion and Technology”

Jeremy Stolow, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University, Montréal, Canada.

Uppsala University Department of Theology
JMK Event Tuesday 6 march 2018. 15:00-17:00

This presentation offers some reflections on the topic of religion and technology from the vantage point of a study I have conducted called ‘Picturing Aura’. The project deals with the history of efforts to photograph a mysterious radiant force that is said to surround living bodies and is known as ‘the aura’. While dismissed as pseudo-scientific nonsense by the scientific mainstream, pictures of aura are embraced by a range of actors — fringe scientists, psychics, spiritual healers, occultists, and artists — as authentic representations of the state of human vitality and of the true nature of the cosmos. As such, they are said to constitute visible evidence confirming descriptions of subtle bodies and supernatural energies that belong to long histories of religious cosmology and healing arts. Picturing Aura is thus (among other things) a story about heterodox uses of the orthodox instruments of science — especially, but not only photographic apparatus — in ways that strain modern science’s monopoly over its own technological infrastructure. My presentation will offer a rough guide to this remarkable chapter in the history of photography, while at the same time drawing attention to some puzzling assumptions among scholars about media technologies as instruments of knowledge, and about how to distinguish science and religion in the first place.

Jeremy Stolow is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University, Montréal, Canada. He is also a member of the International Advisory Board of the Center for Religion and Media (New York University), and the Centre de recherche sur l’intermédialité (Université de Montréal). Among Jeremy’s recent publications are his books, Orthodox By Design: Judaism, Print Politics and the ArtScroll Revolution (University of California Press, 2010) and Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between (Fordham University Press, 2012).

This lecture will take place in Humanistiska teatern, Campus Engelska parken, Uppsala University on March 6 between 15.00-17.00. The lecture will be followed by a reception in the Department of Theology.

More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/528444404191896/


Humanistiska teatern, Campus Engelska parken, Uppsala University

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