03/11/2015 - Leerstoel Casterman-Hamers: Academic session with Simon Schaffer and Adam Lowe


3 Nov 2015

U-Residence, Groene Zaal, Generaal Jacqueslaan 271, 1050 Brussel


18:30 Registration

19:00 Welcome & introduction

19:10 Simon Schaffer: Object lessons and material histories

Simon Schaffer will explore how the study of the mundane objects scientists use in their everyday work shows how the sciences' histories are bound up with materials' changing properties. These material histories can help challenge an apparently obvious distinction between deliberately produced artifacts and objects as natural specimens. Some histories of meteorites, of honeycombs and of bubbles can show how the very notions of object and of artifact emerged in the process of scientific work and ingeniously playful experimentation.

19:40 Adam Lowe: (re-)Negotiating the boundary between image and form

Adam Lowe has been researching digital technology in the humanities and arts and exploring 'originals' through their 'facsimiles'. He is known for his bold 3D realizations of the Wedding at Cana by Veronese, works by Piranesi and the Tomb of Tutankhamun. For this session he will elaborate on the mediation, transformation and re-negotiation of the boundary between image and form or on cultivating an intimacy with the behavior of the physical world.

20:10 Panel discussion

21:00 Cocktail


Participation is free, but registration is required. Click here for the online registration form.

Bios / Slides


Simon Schaffer

Professor at Department History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, UK. Simon Schaffer has been a Fellow of Darwin College since 1985. Until recently he was editor of The British Journal for the History of Science. His research interests include the history of physical science and the social history of science. In July 2012 he was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy.

Professor Schaffer was jointly awarded the Erasmus Prize in 2005 for the book Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle and the Experimental Life, which he co-authored with Steven Shapin. In 2004, he presented a series of documentaries for the BBC about light and the history of its study and knowledge.


Selected publications

La fabrique des sciences modernes (Seuil, 2014)

Trabajos de cristal: ensayos de historia de la ciencia, 1650–1900 (Marcial Pons, 2011)

The brokered world: go-betweens and global intelligence, 1770–1820 (Science History Publications, 2009), co-editor

The mindful hand: inquiry and invention from the late Renaissance to early industrialisation (Chicago / Edita, 2007), co-editor

Wetenschap is cultuur (with Steven Shapin) (Balans, 2005)

N01SE – information and transformation (Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, 2000), co-editor and contributor

The sciences in enlightened Europe (Chicago University Press, 1999), co-editor

From physics to anthropology and back again (Prickly Pear Press, 1994)

William Whewell: a composite portrait (Oxford University Press, 1991), co-editor

Robert Hooke: new studies (Boydell and Brewer, 1989), co-editor

Leviathan and the air pump: Hobbes, Boyle and the experimental life (with Steven Shapin) (Princeton University Press, 1985), 2nd edition, with new introduction (Princeton University Press, 2011)


Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an artist and the founder of Factum Arte and the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation. Research and investigation into the mediation and transformation of information is at the core of all Factum Arte’s work. He and a team from Factum Arte created the facsimile of the Wedding at Cana by Veronese for the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice in 2007, widely acclaimed as a turning point in attitudes towards replication and preservation focusing attention on the relationship between authenticity and originality.


In 2009 Adam Lowe was awarded the Microsoft prize for Les Humanities Scientifique by Science Po (Paris). Bruno Latour and Adam Lowe co-authored ‘The Migration of the Aura--or how to explore the Original through its Facsimiles’ for Switching Codes: Thinking through Digital Technology in the Humanities and the Arts (Chicago UP, 2011). Adam Lowe and the team from Factum Arte are currently installing an exact facsimile of the tomb of Tutankhamun into a site at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings. The aim is to communicate the problems involved in the preservation of sites that were meant to last but not to be visited.


Actum Arte was founded in 2001. Since then, he and his Madrid-based team of artists, technicians and conservators have become world leaders in digital mediation – involved in both the realisation of works for contemporary artists and the production of facsimiles of historic works of art threatened by time, erosion and global tourism. They use non-contact 3D laser scanning and digital photography to collect massive amounts of data on their subjects, which are then translated into 2D and 3D forms that replicate the original in exact surface and profile detail.