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Abstract

<title> ABSTRACT </title>The following proposes to give a biography of an image. The image chosen will be that of the 3rd Earl of Rosse's 'Great Spiral' or M51 as published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society for the year 1850. We will follow the image as it is reproduced, copied, interpreted, and re-published, in the mid to late nineteenth century, in the works of William Whewell, Stephan Alexander, Dionysius Lardner, George Chambers, and finally Camille Flammarion. The biography of Rosse's image of M51 will reveal a series of different kinds of juxtapositions and relations, all made in order to make the object more accessible to different kinds of inquiry. But I would also like to suggest that this aspect may be better viewed as a strategy involving the active intervention and adjustment of the image which is employed in order to make some claims about the object possible or more plausible than others. It is by tracing some of the paths taken by this image of the Great Spiral that I hope to reveal the relevance and significance of advocating the notion of a biography of an image for the purposes of understanding scientific representations more generally.

In: Nuncius
In: Selene's Two Faces
In: Selene's Two Faces
From 17th Century Drawings to Spacecraft Imaging
If any scientific object has over the course of human history aroused the fascination of both scientists and artists worldwide, it is beyond doubt the moon. The moon is also by far the most interesting celestial body when it comes to reflecting on the dualistic nature of photography as applied to the study of the universe. Against this background, Selene’s Two Faces sets out to look at the scientific purpose, aesthetic expression, and influence of early lunar drawings, maps and photographs, including spacecraft imaging. In its approach, Selene’s Two Faces is intermedial, intercultural and interdisciplinary. It brings together not only various media (photography, maps, engravings, lithographs, globes, texts), and cultures (from Europe, America and Asia), but also theoretical perspectives.

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