Hannah Star Rogers’ research examines the intersection of science and art through a variety of mediums. She explores the question of how art and science work as categories to circumscribe bodies of knowledge. Her monograph Art, Science, and the Politics of Knowledge will be available in 2022 from MIT Press. She is currently a Visiting Scholar in Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies (STIS) at the University of Edinburgh and lectures at the University of Virginia’s Engineering and Society department.
Art, Science and the Politics of Knowledge (MIT Press 2022)
In Art, Science, and the Politics of Knowledge, Hannah Star Rogers suggests that art and science are not as different from each other as we might assume. She shows how the tools of science and technology studies (STS) can be applied to artistic practice, offering new ways of thinking about people and objects that have largely fallen outside the scope of STS research. Arguing that the categories of art and science are labels with specific powers to order social worlds—and that art and science are best understood as networks that produce knowledge—Rogers shows, through a series of cases, the similarities and overlapping practices of these knowledge communities.
The cases, which range from nineteenth-century artisans to contemporary bioartists, illustrate how art can provide the basis for a new subdiscipline called art, science, and technology studies (ASTS), offering hybrid tools for investigating art–science collaborations. Rogers’s subjects include the work of father and son glassblowers, the Blaschkas, whose glass models, produced in the nineteenth century for use in biological classification, are now displayed as works of art; the physics photographs of documentary photographer Berenice Abbott; and a bioart lab that produces work functioning as both artwork and scientific output. Finally, Rogers, an STS scholar and contemporary art–science curator, draws on her own work to consider the concept of curation as a form of critical analysis.
Rogers’ research uses an STS perspective to investigate works of art that are engaged with science to understand the social construction of knowledge. The categories of science and art serve many purposes. They indicate the kind of attention people, objects, and ideas want to elicit from readers and viewers. They serve to demarcate resources, to delineate interests, and to separate social groups. She is interested in how specific knowledge communities label and materially shape artistic and scientific objects in various contexts. People engage in rhetorical positioning through the creation of texts, making and unmaking the meanings of objects.Objects can be made to fit into the knowledge networks of science, art, or combinations of both. For different practitioners and audiences, what counts as art or science and their associations varies in interesting ways. Her work has concerned a variety of objects, and in each case analysis is deployed in situations that destabilize the categories of art and science.
By unpacking the ways actors have used these categories, she complicates the division between the realms of art and science. Her research is both analytical and speculative, asking about practices and projecting possibilities for the meanings of art and science in different contexts. Rather than going about showing, as some philosophers, historians, and science studies scholars have, the moment of divergence between science and art, she is interested in taking seriously the idea that their separation is not an easy one. This research shows that difference between art and science is not a set of axioms purported to be universal but instead is an ongoing context-dependent practice. In this case, the categories of art and science are actually produced by the discourse and material work of those who want to position themselves in the respective networks.
 Fan, F. (2004). British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire, and Cultural Encounter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
 Daston, L. (2007). Things that Talk: Object Lessons for Art and Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
 Daston, L., & Galison, P. (2007). Objectivity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Reviewed by Jacob Thompson-Bell for Leonardo, November 2022
Interview with Mark Lynch for NPR affiliate WINC
The Routledge Handbook of Art, Science, and Technology Studies, 2021.
Ed. Hannah Star Rogers, Megan K. Halpern, Kathryn deRidder-Vignone, and Dehlia Hannah.
Art’s Work in the Age of Biotechnology: Shaping Our Genetic Futures
With John Godwin, Fred Gould, Roger Manley, Todd Kuiken, William Myers, Molly Renda, Megan Serr (Chapel Hill, NC: NC State University Libraries, 2019)
Leonardo Gallery: Art’s Work in the Age of Biotechnology. Hannah Star Rogers, Diana Eusebio, Erin Kirchner, Grace Kwon, Rachel Rusk, Sydney Sieh-Takata, Suzanne Anker, Joe Davis, Dana Dal Bo, Ashley Seifert, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Aaron Ellison, David Buckley Borden, Emeka Ikebude, Charlotte Jarvis, Maria McKinney, Joel Ong, Ciara Redmond, Richard Pell, Kirsten Stolle, Emilia Tikka, Paul Vanouse, Solon Morse, Jennifer Willet, Adam Zaretsky; Art’s Work in the Age of Biotechnology: Shaping Our Genetic Futures. Leonardo 2022; 55 (1): 5–17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/leon_a_01966
“STS by Material Means: Art Critiquing Science.” Chapter in Dialogues Between Artistic Research and Science and Technology Studies, eds. Henk Borgdorff, Peter Peters, and Trevor Pinch (New York: Routledge, 2020)
“Cheering Artificial Intelligence Leader: Creative Writing and Materializing Design Fiction.” Leonardo (November 30, 2017), 1-8.
“Intersecting Art and Science: Curation, Curriculum, and Collaboration”
Art History, Pedagogy, and Practice (September 2017).
Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds
Edited by David H. Guston, Ed Finn, and Jason Scott Robert (The MIT Press 2017).
“Making Science Visible: The Photography of Berenice Abbott.” Photomediations Machine, Spring 2015. Translated into Spanish for Circuloa, Spring 2016.
“Amateur Knowledge: Public Art and Citizen Science.” Configurations 19, no. 1. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011. http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/configurations/toc/con.19.1.html
Image Credit: Photographer William Warmus’s image of the Rudolf and Leopold Blaschkas’ glass marine model of a jellyfish. Cornell University Collection.