Imaging versus Anticipating the Patient’s Body in MRI’s early development
Dr Silvia CasiniZoom
Imaging is a central feature of diagnostic and treatment procedures, and of the patient experience. It is also a field tied to innovation cycles in biomedicine and to a transformation of the relationship between the patient’s body and the medical image which becomes an operational interface, a data-visualisation. Non-invasive imaging procedures put the living body of the patient at the centre of their investigation, but often in the guise of a medical image or healthcare visual app, with the actual body of the patient remaining absent. What if one were to replace the medical humanities’ “primal scene” (Whitehead and Woods 2016) with the gestures of anticipating the patient that occur while a biomedical imaging technology is still under development? I argue that the leap of imagination required by those gestures can open up a different practice and discourse of care. I draw upon my archive-based and laboratory ethnography for a project on the early development (late 1960s-early 1980s) of clinical Magnetic Resonance technology in the University of Aberdeen biomedical physics laboratory (Casini 2021). My theoretical framework is informed by Floridi’s interface concept (2014), Barad’s theory of intra-action (2007) and care practice as a matter of tinkering (Mol et. al. 2010).