Dr Silvia Casini

Dr Silvia Casini
Dr Silvia Casini
Dr Silvia Casini

PhD, MA, associate fellow HEA


Accepting PhDs

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 272161
Office Address
School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture
University of Aberdeen
Old Brewery, n°14
Aberdeen, AB24 3UB
School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture


I am a film and visual culture scholar working at the intersection of visual culture, cinema, science and technology studies, and aesthetics.

I coordinate the undergraduate medical humanities degree and co-direct the George Washington Wilson Centre for Visual Culture. I was the Undergraduate Program Coordinator for Film and Visual Culture in the School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture (2018-2022, 2023-2024). I conceived and coordinated the cross-disciplinary reading group Picturing Science.

I teach honours courses open to students from the medical humanities program. I have a PhD in Film and Visual Culture (AHRC-funded, Queen's University of Belfast, UK) and an MA in Philosophy (Ca' Foscari University, Venice, Italy). I have curated the first UK solo art exhibition by the French sculptor Marc Didou (Naughton Gallery at Queen's, Belfast 2007), the art-science-entrepreneurship dialogues and event series Artscientia (Venice, 2013). More recently, I curated the art exhibition Cities of the future: living together (Venice, 2022). I have set up Immobile Choreography, an art-science project in collaboration with the biomedical physics department at the University of Aberdeen and the Suttie Arts Space. The project culminated in the exhibition From Where Do We See?.

Thanks to a Leverhulme Trust grant, I completed my new book "Giving Bodies back to Data. Image-makers, Bricolage and Reinvention in Magnetic Resonance Technology" (MIT Press, 2021). 

I am currently working on a new project on science film festivals, Visualising Science on Screen. One of my case studies is the International Film Festival for Scientific and Didactic Films 1956-1975, a collaboration between the University of Padua and the Venice Film Festival. See the research article “Communicating science through films: the case of the International Festival of Scientific and Educational Film (1956–1975)” published in Science as Culture.


Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Curren Admin Responsibilities:

UG Film and Visual Culture Coordinator

Co-director GWW Centre for Visual Culture 

Coordinator for the UG medical humanities degree in collaboration with the School of Medicine

SGSAH representative

Past Admin Responsibilities:

Film and Visual Culture Undergradute Programme Coordinator (2018-2022)

Coordinator of the MLitt in Film, Visual Culture and Arts Management (2018-2019)

Undergraduate Dissertation Coordinator (2016-2017)

Open Day Coordinator (2015-2017)

SSLC Coordinator (2015-2017)



External Memberships

I often act as expert evaluator for EU projects such as the Horizon 2020 Future and Emerging Technologies (FET Open CSA) and Heritage Horizons 2021.

I have reviewed grant proposals for The Leverhulme Trust, the AHRC, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the FWF Austrian Science Fund, and the Scottish Universities Insight Institute Knowledge Exchange Programme. I have reviewed articles for, among others, Leonardo, Science Communication, Cinema&Cie, Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, Parallax, Technoscienza: the Italian Journal of Science and Technology Studies, Visual Culture Studies, The Senses and Society, Contemporary Aesthetics. I have reviewed book proposals for Palgrave, Michigan University Press, and Routledge.

External Memberships:

SLSA (Society for Literatures, Science and the Arts)

BAFTSS (British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies)

EASST (European Association for the Study of Science and Technology)

Leonardo Network

Society for Science and Technology Studies

SHOT (Society for the History of Technology)

UK Association for Studies in Innovation, Science and Technology

Sensory Studies Directory (by invitation only)

AI4Society (by invitation only)

Arts Advisors Board, Grampian Hospital Trust (by invitation only)

STS Italia – Italian Society for Science and Technology Studies

Media Art Histories

NECS - European Network for Cinema and Media Studies

Editorial and Advisory Boards:

Journal Il Pietrisco, Learned Online Journal of Modern and Contemporary Studies - POETRY PROSE CINEMA (http://www.pietrisco.net/Editorial-Board)

OBOE Journal on Biennials and other Exhibitions (https://www.oboejournal.com/index.php/oboe/about/editorialTeam)






Research Overview

My main research strand focuses on the aesthetic, epistemological and societal implications of scientific photography and visualization, particularly in the case of emerging technologies. I deploy visual culture, science and technology studies (STS) and aesthetics to explore how (still and moving) images and perception work within systems of knowledge. In my scholarly and curatorial work to date, I am committed to study art-science cross-fertilization projects in their material environments (museums, laboratories, cities), to assess how they reconfigure existing forms of visibility, thinking and agency.

My other research interests and publication outputs concern, chiefly, the following areas:

- A visually-informed critical approach to the field of practice of the medical humanities

- The use of Giorgio Agamben's philosophy to explore a gestural-based cinema

- The relationship between cinema and science beyond fiction

I published two research monographs:

1. Giving Bodies back to Data (MIT Press, 2021, pp. 312)

In Giving Bodies back to Data, I bring into view the bodily, situated aspects of data-visualization work, highlighting the frequently overlooked aspects of how data are gathered, presented, and shared. I focus on the lesser-known histories of visualization practice related to the development of MRI, a biomedical technology that has become a cultural icon across the media and the arts. My research has moved from the laboratory to the arts and back, keeping the molecular and phenomenal planes together. I zoomed in to micro-technical details of the technology and its data-visualization pipeline, then zoomed out to patterns of connection between the image-data pipeline and the wider system of infrastructures and operations in which each technology–body system operates. I discuss how the two planes above intersect and exchange from the perspective of image-makers—scientists and artists alike—by making extensive use of previously unknown archival sources, interviews, laboratory ethnography and art–science collaborations.

Giving Bodies Back to Data

This book has been presented in a variety of venues, among others:

- Confabulations - Medical Imaging and the Contemporary Clinical Encounter (University of Durham)

- Research group P.A.S.T.I.S. Science Technology and Innovation Studies (University of Padua)

- Glasgow School of Art

-  Slicing, Blackboxing and Queer Cutting. A MERIAN reading group on futures of biomedical 3-D imaging practices (Jan van Eyck Academie)

-  Seminar Series "The Return of Matter", research group Performing Identities Studies (University of Milan)

Some book reviews appeared here:

- Art History's Turn to Health

- Leonardo Journal

- The Senses and Society ("The Presence of the Absence: Sensory Aesthetics and Magnetic Resonance Imaging")

- MAI Feminism

- H-Net Reviews Attn H-Sci-Med-Tech

- Science, Technology and Society


2. Il Ritratto Scansione ("The Scan-portrait", Mimesis, 2016, pp. 260).

Brain scans produced by biomedical imaging technologies trigger a short circuit with the image we have of the body. The volume examines the epistemological, aesthetic and historical significance of brain scans in the transition from the biomedical laboratory to an exhibition-type context. By adopting different critical approaches to the heterogeneous materials examined (works of art, experiments, technologies), the aim of the volume is to multiply the possible configurations of brain imaging techniques and the images produced, in order to make them available for alternative uses and narratives to those officially authorised by the laboratory. 

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Film and Visual Culture.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me

Film and Visual Culture

Accepting PhDs

Current Research

New Research Project

I am now the scientific coordinator of the project Visualising Science on Screen carried out in collaboration with the P.A.S.T.I.S research group at the University of Padua. The project lies at the intersection of cinema, visual and material culture, science communication, and media archaeology.

The project considers the archives of early science film festivals as privileged intermedial places - like science museums - for the study of communication and public participation in science. Scholarly literature on the relationship between cinema and science beyond fiction abounds, with a focus, in particular, on early cinema analysed using a historiographical approach. Little critical attention, however, has been devoted to the role of scientific film festivals in reconfiguring the relationship between expertise and audience, in helping to transform science into a public phenomenon and in encouraging active forms of spectatorship. This project focuses on the case-study of the Rassegna Internazionale del Film Scientifico-Didattico (International Exhibition of Scientific and Didactic Film), a pioneering science-based public event held at the University of Padova from 1956 to 1975 with the collaboration of the Venice International Film Festival.

The project relies on the analysis of archival records in order to reconstructs the history, identity and institutional mission of the Rassegna, specifically focussing on its organisational format, selection and screening practices, patterns of interaction between scientific realism and aesthetics, and the role of space understood not just a physical venue, but as a repository of socio-technical imaginaries containing filmic and para-filmic practices that contribute to reconfigure both scientific objectivity/expertise and spectatorship. Based on this analysis, the project seeks to demonstrate how the unique case of the Rassegna and its archival afterlife enable to question the cultural and epistemic boundaries between scientific expertise and science communication at the onset of modern science communication practice.

Recent Conference Papers and Presentations

Invited guest lecturer, EU Erasmus Mundus Global Master in Arts and New Media, University of Aalborg, Denmark, February 2024.

Invited speaker at Summer School Disentangling Futures: Promises, Scenarios and Experiments, University of Padua, September 2022.

Keynote, "Giving Bodies back to Data", Un-disciplinary project, Relate Research Laboratory for Art and Technology, Aalborg University, April 2023

Invited speaker, "Socio-technical Imageries in the Age of Operational Images", Biennial of Technology, University of Turin, November 2022

Invited speaker 'Medical Images and their Public Imaginaries', a lecture for doctoral students, program in philosophy and history of science and technology Ca' Foscari University of Venice, April 2022

Talk 'Imaging versus Anticipating the Patient's Body in MRI's early Development' Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research congress, Durham University, April 2021.

Invited guest speaker within the seminar Nuclear Aesthetics in Gediminas Urbona' Studio Seminar in Art & the Public Sphere, MIT, March 2021.

Invited plenary speaker at the conference Transactions: Imaging/Art/Science - Image Quality, Content and AestheticsWestminster University, April 2019

The conference was organised by the Computational Vision and Imaging Technologies Research Group (School of Computer Science) and the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) (Westminster School of Arts) of the University of Westminster, the Rochester Institute of Technology, USA, in collaboration with the IET’s Vision and Imaging Network and the Imaging Science Group of the Royal Photographic Society.

Invited keynote speaker at the symposium Present Futures, Design, Media and the Arts, Lafayette College, USA, May 2019

Invited speaker at the research workshop The Epistemic Functions of Vision inScience, University of Bergamo and Max Planck Institute Berlin, Italy, October 2018

‘Visualising Biodata in MRI (re)invention”, Pastis Seminars, University of Padua, Italy, January 2018

‘Visualising Data In-between Science and Art: Biomedical imaging practices in MRI innovation, past and present”, presentation at the Art Science Conference. 50 Years of Leonardo, Bologna, Italy, June 2017

'Life Beyond Control: Cinematographic Experiments between Beauty and Chance', Science in Culture, St Andrews University, March 2017




Knowledge Exchange

2019: Curator of the exhibition "From Where Do We See?", The Small Gallery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (http://www.ghat-art.org.uk/from-where-do-we-see-curated-dr-silvia-casini/


Retrospective narratives of biomedical innovation tend to omit the role played by aesthetics and craft skills, framing them as peripheral to science and privileging theory creation over practical making.  

This exhibition presents a selection of previously unknown archival sources related to the Aberdonian development of Mark-1, the world’s first whole-body MRI clinical scanner and material from the team leading the IDentIFY project. The aim is to explore how methods and theories from the arts and humanities, usually considered peripheral to science, feed into past and present MRI innovation networks. The archival material exhibited in The Small Gallery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary introduces visitors to some of the humanities aspects of medical imaging.

2014: Consultant for A.M. Qattan Foundation (London and Ramallah). Seminar series on art-science cross-fertilization and initial fieldwork with stakeholders for the creation of a science centre in Ramallah, Palestine.

2012-2013: Scientific coordinator of Arscientia - Art, Science and Enterprise, a series of dialogues and pop-up exhibitions (Venice, Italy)


I am currently working together with the organising committee of the Creativity&Cognition Conference which will be located in Venice, Italy on the Isola San Servolo in June 2022. Since 1993, this conference series brings together artists, scientists, designers, educators, and researchers to more deeply understand how people engage individually and socially in creative processes and how computation and other technology can affect creative outcomes.

I am also part of the ongoing research and exhibition project "KNOW THYSELF AS A VIRTUAL REALITY", coordinated by Marilène Oliver, University of Alberta, Canada.

I have collaborated with several academic and non academic institutions in and outside the UK such as the biomedical physics department at the University of Aberdeen, The Suttie Arts Space, IUAV University.


My current supervision areas are: Film and Visual Culture.

I have supervised or am currently supervising the following doctoral students:

Eimear Kinsella (first supervisor)

Camilla Salvaneschi (co-supervisor, completed)

Brian Keeley (co-supervisor)


Funding and Grants

Leverhulme Research Fellowship, PI, June 2019 - May 2020, (£ 54.652), project "From where do we see? Centre-Periphery in Biomedical Visualisation"

Kias Cluster Application, co-PI, June 2020-2023, project "KNOW THYSELF AS A VIRTUAL REALITY", participation in the symposium and writing up the contextual essay for the project exhibition and the web platform. PI: Marilène Oliver, University of Alberta, Canada.

Aberdeen Humanities Fund Development Trust Research Awards, PI, 2019 (£1,952)

Brain Gain Fellowship at IUAV University (FSE Grant), 2019, (Euros: 12,000)

European Cooperation in Science and Technology grant (£1,200), Network on NMR relaxometry, short scientific mission at University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn (Poland) to conduct fieldwork interviews.

Carnegie Trust Research Incentive Grant, PI, 2017, (£6,692) project "Visualising Data: A study of biomedical imaging practices in Scottish MRI innovation, past and present"

Scottish Crucible grant, co-PI, 2016, (£4,000), project "Harvesting Collections for Social and Scientific Benefit: Hidden Stories at the Herbarium of RBGE" in collaboration with Glasgow University and RBGE

National Science Foundation grant, CNS-ASU, 2013
Grant to attend the Winter School on Anticipatory Governance of Emerging Technologies, Phoenix, USA

Italian Society for the Study of Science and Technology, 2011
Travelling and Accommodation grant to attend the PCST Conference, Florence, Italy

Summer School in Medicine and New Media, 2008
Travelling and accommodation grant, Centre for the History of Medicine, Warwick, UK

European Science Foundation, 2006
Travelling and accommodation grant for the conference Reading Images, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Wassennar, The Netherlands

Research Grant Queen’s University, Belfast, 2006
Research grant for a 3-month-stay at the University of California, San Diego, Department of Communication, USA

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), 2004
Scholarship to undertake research at doctoral level, UK


Teaching Responsibilities

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Courses taught since January 2015:

Introduction to Visual Culture (sub-honours course)

Introduction to Film and the Cinematic Experience (sub-honours course)

Honours Course: Foundations of Art-Science Collaboration: from the early-modern anatomical atlases to contemporary bioart (open to medical humanities students)

Honours Course: Cinema and Science Beyond Fiction (open to medical humanities students)

Honours Course: The Medical Image and its Public Imaginaries (open to medical humanities students)

MLitt in Film, Visual Culture and Arts Management

Contributing to the MLitt course Critical Approaches to Literature, Science and Medicine

Contributing to the course Imagination, Creativity and Innovation in Science (School of Biological Sciences)

Contributing to Visualising Revolution and Visualising Modernity (sub-honours courses)

UG Dissertation Course




Page 1 of 5 Results 1 to 10 of 42

Show 10 | 25 | 50 | 100 results per page


Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Other Contributions