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Body Without Senses: The Scientific Management by Frank B. and Lillian Gilbreth

Bertelli, Linda Body Without Senses: The Scientific Management by Frank B. and Lillian Gilbreth. In: The Necs 2017 Conference "Sensibility & the Senses. Media, Bodies, Practices", 29 June - 1 July 2017, Paris, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3 (Unpublished)

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This paper focuses on a single case-study: the early photofilmic works by Frank (1868-1924) and Lillian (1878-1972) Gilbreth that were aimed at the study of workers’ motion in view of their measurement and standardization. More specifically, the paper investigates Gilbreths’ work on the cyclograph, as expounded in Fatigue Study (1916) and Applied Motion Study (1917). Firstly, it analyzes the procedural protocols of these experiments in order to understand what, if any, experimental model they give rise to. It scrutinizes in particular: a) the role of the camera’s mechanical body (multiple references to the camera as device with mechanical senses will be studied), b) the position of the scientist’s body in the experimental field and its role in the costruction of the theory (the training of the observer’s/scientist’s senses), c) the preparation of the body of the subjects to be analyzed (before the experiments) and the way his/her senses were taken into account in the experimental field (during the experiments). .Secondly and consequently, the paper aims to show how all these regulatory norms serve and enable a specific economy of the body in two interconnected senses: a) economy as a form of reduction. The paper analyzes different ways the body inside the experimental field is isolated/deleted depending on whether it is the scientist’s body, the subject’s body under analysis or the body of the camera. It will lead to a first meaning of absence of senses, that is linked to an automatization of them. b) economy as a system of efficiency. Beginning from Marcel Mauss’s notion of “techniques du corps” as a general theoretical framework as well as specific examples of disciplining effects on individuals, this paper seeks to outline the historical role played by the abovementioned studies of the body in developing a specific concept of efficiency and its relationship with work. It will lead to a second meaning of absence of senses, that it is intertwined to the first and linked to the relationships between the processes of depersonalization and the processes of the spectacle. Finally, some comparisons with other earlier experimental protocols (especially with the works by Étienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge) and an analysis of the circulation that the pictures by the Gilbreths had in the popular media will be briefly traced.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
T Technology > TR Photography
Research Area: Economics and Institutional Change
Depositing User: Linda Bertelli
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2017 12:52
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2017 09:14
URI: http://eprints.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/3718

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