Dr Silvia Casini

Dr Silvia Casini



Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 272161
The University of Aberdeen School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture
University of Aberdeen
Old Brewery, n°14
Aberdeen, AB24 3UB


Queen’s University Belfast, Ph.D. in Film and Visual Studies (2008). 

Dissertation: “The Aesthetics of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Setting MRI in Motion from the Scientific Laboratory to an Art Exhibition” (funded by AHRC)

Ca’ Foscari University, M.A. and B.A. in Philosophy with honors, cum laude (2001).


Research Interests

My main research strand focuses on the aesthetic, epistemological and societal implications of scientific visualization, particularly in the case of emerging technologies. I use the tools of visual culture, media studies, and science and technology studies (STS) to explore how scientific images work within different 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. I am interested in supervising research students in this research area.

I have two other research strands:

1. The first one uses Giorgio Agamben's philosophy to explore the ways in which an image (still or moving) makes meaning and the conditions under which power is to be found in each medium, thus binding the aesthetic to the political. The question of the status of a certain subject/object is one of the chief preoccupations in Agamben’s interventions in the fields of aesthetics and art, as in his reflections on politics. When it comes to aesthetics, I am interested in exploring how Agamben tackles the question of status in a literal sense: how do objects (e.g., images) come to acquire the power and authority they have? How can another object/subject/event disrupt this authority?

2. The second concerns the relationship between cinema and science beyond the paradigm of science fiction. Through the lens of the cinematic medium I analyse the categories of exploration, transmission and reconfiguration of scientific knowledge, using methods and approaches coming from film theory, visual culture and science and technology studies (STS).

Current Research

During my Leverhulme Trust fellowship grant, I have completed my second book entitled "Giving Bodies back to Data. Image-makers, Bricolage and Reinvention in Magnetic Resonance Technology". The book is forthcoming with MIT Press, Leonardo Book Series (Spring 2021), series editors Sean Cubitt and Roger Malina.


Research Grants

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

Kias Cluster Application, 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, 2019

Brain Gain Fellowship at IUAV University (FSE Grant), 2019

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

Scottish Crucible grant, 2016, 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 (sub-honours course)

Honours Seminar: The Visual Culture of Medicine: Imaging the Body in-between Art and Science (open to medical humanities students)

Honours Seminar: Cinema and Science Beyond Science Fiction (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 Cinema and Revolution (sub-honours course)

UG Dissertation Course

Supervision of Doctoral Students:

I am currently supervising the following doctoral students:

Eimear Kinsella (first supervisor)

Camilla Salvaneschi (co-supervisor)

Brian Keeley (co-supervisor)

Lee Hentze (second supervisor)

Further Info

External Responsibilities

Expert evaluator for the projects Horizon 2020 Future and Emerging Technologies (FET Open CSA)



Admin Responsibilities

Film and Visual Culture Undergradute Programme Coordinator (2018-2019 and 2020-2021)

Open Day Coordinator

Undergraduate Dissertation Coordinator

Co-director GWW Centre for Visual Culture

Coordinator of the MLitt in Film, Visual Culture and Arts Management

Public Engagement and Outreach Initiatives

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 (Venice, Italy) (www.arscientia.eu)

Recent Conference Papers and Presentations

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

The conference is organized 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 in
Science, 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

‘The Potential of Life: Objects and Scenarios in between Design and Neuroscience’ Life, in Theory. Society for Literatures, Science and the Arts, Turin, June 2014

‘The Visual Arts and Science’, lecture series Interdisciplinary Adventures for Visual Arts, National College of Art and Design, Dublin, December 2013

‘Esperimenti di qualità: pubblici museali e cultura scientifica’, Associazione Nazionale Musei della Scienza (ANMS), Natural History Museum, Venice, November 2013

‘Guided by pictures: from Jean-Luc Godard to Brain Scans’, Visual Studies as an Academic Discipline, Zagreb, November 2013

‘Imaginaire scientifique, divulgation et comportements du public: résultats d’étude du Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Venise’, Teaching module (4 hours) for museum professionals Entre images, imagination et imaginaire : le son et la lumière dans l’exposition,OCIM, Toulouse, February 2013

‘Performing the aesthetics of science: visitors' discourses, movements and gestures in the Museum of Natural History in Venice’, Quality Honesty and Beauty in Science Communication, PCST Public Communication of Science and Technology, Florence, May 2012

‘The scan-portrait: geographies and geometries of perception’, The Vital Body, the Sensous Body: Interventions in the Photographic, University of Lund, April 2012

‘Freeing gestures from images in selected cinematic practices’, Image as Gesture. Nomadikon, Bergen, November 2011

‘Curating the Biomedical Archive-fever’ Contemporary Biomedical Science and Technology as a Challenge to Museums, (EAMHMS), Copenhagen, September 2010

‘Facing Nanoart: a New Aesthetic and Epistemology of the Surface?’ Textures. (SLSA), Riga, June 2010