Visualizing the Virus: Thinking through a Digital Project
Dr Sria ChatterjeeZoom
This paper will discuss the ongoing international digital project, Visualizing the Virus.
The project, which will go live in April 2021 is an interactive platform that showcases and investigates the diverse ways in which the coronavirus is visualized and imagined. We define visualization in the broadest sense. We explore representations of the virus AND the inequalities, histories, and futures its existence makes visible.
The project is funded by DARIAH EU and the Basel Digital Humanities Lab. The core team comprises art historian & environmental humanities scholar, Dr Sria Chatterjee (PI), multispecies anthropologist Dr Eben Kirksey, STS & Gender Studies scholar Dr Rachel Vaughn, and others.
Connections between the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences are often ignored. This means that pandemics are often studied without considering their many interconnected histories. Visualizing the Virus connects insights from different disciplines to create a collective digital space for exactly such a convergence. It brings together artists, social scientists, anthropologists, cultural theorists, virologists, and molecular biologists to analyze how viruses figure into the domains of representation, infrastructure, political theory, racism, ontology, permeability, practices of care and solidarity.
Conceptualized by an art historian, the project takes a unique approach to understanding viruses. We use visualizing as a verb to mobilize a method. To visualize is the first revolutionary step towards action in a world where much of life and its politics is invisible. Visualizing the Virus teaches us to look differently. The digital architecture of the platform invites the visitor to navigate clusters of connection. One can explore links between quotidian lived experience, pathologies, the natural sciences and socio-cultural critique. It provides the visitor not just a dynamic and growing archive but spaces for reflection on the scales of the crisis and our current infrastructural inequalities.