Boris Jardine is a curator at the Science Museum (London) and a historian of science with expertise in two main areas: the interrelation of art and science, particularly with regard to modernism; and the history of scientific instrumentation.
His current book manuscript, provisionally titled Scientific Moderns, deals with a number of interwar projects that characterized themselves as both scientific and artistic—these schemes, typically utopian in their ambitions, bore the imprint of continental modernism but were particularly adapted to the British ideology of “planning” and the “social relations of science.” A particular focus is on the way these projects relied on and entailed “modern” citizens, and how these new citizens were to be managed and communicated with by the new breed of elite artist/scientist.
At the MPIWG, Boris will be working in more detail on the role of social data gathering in this context, exploring the data-gathering practices of the social survey movement “Mass-Observation” (founded 1937) and expanding the scope of his research to take in developments outside the United Kingdom (in particular U.S. public opinion polling and sociometry).
Previous studies have focused on the material culture of science. Having worked on early-modern astronomical instrumentation and the history of the microscope, Boris now intends to write a series of papers broadening the scope of what constitutes a scientific instrument. A current paper uses the example of a modernist laboratory as a giant scientific instrument itself, and a future project will take the case of early-modern astronomical texts and their use as instruments. This methodology is also relevant to his current project on social data in which he considers the development and circulation of sociological metrics as instruments.