In her dissertation, Paula Muhr analyses the productive roles of images in the process of generating medical knowledge in relation to the 19-century hysteria, as well as its contemporary manifestations.
On the one hand, she focuses on different types of images produced by the celebrated 19th-century neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot within the framework of his study of hysteria. Charcot implemented a plethora of then novel visualising technologies, among which photography featured prominently. On the other hand, Muhr examines how the advent of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in the 1990s has played a crucial role in the emergence of contemporary neuroscientific research into hysteria's present-day nosological successors.
Despite enormous differences between the visualising technologies applied by Charcot and those used by researchers today, in both cases the generated images result from indirect measurements of particular physiological functions and subsequent interpretation of the acquired data. Muhr argues that in both cases images are far more than mere illustrations of scientific findings, since the production of new medical insights hinges on the application of respective visualising technologies.
Furthermore, she examines the degree to which the use of specific visualising technologies, both in the historical and contemporary research, is at the same time dependent on and conducive to the development of particular theoretical models. These theoretical models, she claims, represent a necessary framework for the interpretation and dissemination of the newly won image-based experimental results.
Paula Muhr studied visual arts, art history, theory of literature and physics in Serbia and Germany. Parallel to her practice as a visual artist, she has been active as a free-lance curator and lecturer. She has published a number of articles on contemporary photography.
Primary Advisor: Prof. Dr. Charlotte Klonk, Humboldt University, Berlin
Secondary Advisor: Prof. Dr. Cornelius Borck, IMGWF, Lübeck