Getting ready for Real/Non-Real/Diorama

A couple of weeks ago I visited lecturer Nick Hopwood in his pyramidal book-lined office under the eaves of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in Cambridge. I'd been reading his ( and Soraya de Chadevarian's) succulent book 'Models: The Third Dimension of Science', about 'wooden ships and plastic molecules, wax bodies and a perspex economy, monuments in cork and mathematics in plaster, casts of diseases, habitat diorama, and extinct monsters rebuilt in bricks and mortar'. The book is a wonderful brew of stories and analysis and I recommend it highly.

I had been hoping in an unformed artisty way that when I outlined my project to Nick he might spontaneously suggest a brilliant way in which we could collaborate, but he seemed a bit baffled by my non-sequential Impressionistic description of what I am doing. Actually I realised that I was as well; perhaps it's because in this long story of 'Real/Non-Real' I am doing an authentic 'response' to instruments and models. Rather than logically interpreting their stories and construction I am in a dream of admiring the neat stocky brass fittings of the microscopes, their sleek sharkskin casings and, as Ludmilla Jordanova puts it, teaching models of embryos with 'alluring flesh and sexually inviting postures'?

After twenty minutes of mutual bewilderment and general goodwill I left Nick with the hope that we might collaborate in some way in the future, and a box of six quails' eggs I found in my handbag.

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