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Keeping Track - continued...

2. Mountains

"The laboratories [...] have become insufficient [...]: thus, in the study of organised bodies we will soon come to an end if we do not manage to observe nature in its own domain", writes the Paris physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey in 1883, articulating a critique of physiology's contemporary lab standard, which is namely shared by those colleagues studying organic locomotion and energetics. [MAREY 1883, 226, transl. P.F.]. Upon a physiological research operating with animals, vivisection and closed laboratory spaces - "sad, poor, and unhealthy places" [ibid., 227] - Marey reacts by setting up his Station Physiologique in the outskirts of Paris, which allows to study bodily locomotion on humans in the open air. The Turin physiologist Angelo Mosso leaves the city entirely. In order to examine the energetic economy of the human organism - the hidden relations between psycho-physical life functions and energy consumption - in its own domain he transfers his physiological research just into that nature which contemporary perception knows as the other of experimental science (Wissenschaft): into the landscape (Landschaft) Alps. Considering aesthetics the physiological mountain expeditions of Mosso and his first successors Nathan Zuntz and Emil Bürgi proceed successfully:



"With a slight aesthetic shiver one thought of the laboratory buildings' grey walls while mounting through well tilled meadows, and enjoying the magnificent view over the lake, the village, and the Faulhorn rising vis-à-vis." [ZUNTZ 1906, 130, transl. P.F.]

But thus far from the lab we must - with Latour - expect metrologic problems. How are the Alps transformed into a site of physiological experimentation?

Reference: Felsch, Philipp. 2002. Keeping Track. On Alpine Metrology.. The Virtual Laboratory (ISSN 1866-4784), http://vlp.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/references?id=art9&page=p0002