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Testing vision: transforming bodies and the 'test site'

posted on 2023-06-08, 17:39 authored by Emile DevereauxEmile Devereaux
This paper presentation examines the correlation between experiments with new technologies that test and transform live bodies, and the ways in which visual display frames, isolates and informs these tests. In 1994 a study of decommissioned U.S. government reports revealed a series of radiation experiments conducted unknowingly on medical patients, prisoners and other citizens from 1944-74. These human subjects were exposed to low levels of radiation so that the results could be watched and charted, sometimes over the course of decades. A product of the Cold War, radiation experimentation brought in close alliance the healing arts and the development of military weaponry (each targeted in opposite directions). The hopes and possibilities introduced by the development of atomic energy and ultraviolet technologies were also marked by the slow manifestation of intangible bodily symptoms and items like radioactive tracers that allow for the tracking of life processes within the body. A thinking through of Avital Ronell’s ‘test site’ (2005) as an expanded arena, imposed by technologies in everyday life, considers testing in light of its permutations beyond the laboratory and extension through mobile communication networks.


Publication status

  • Published

Presentation Type

  • paper

Event name

Trans - what? across and beyond (artistic) research Symposium

Event location

Berlin, Germany

Event type


Event date

Sunday 28 July 2013

Department affiliated with

  • Media and Film Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


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