Promise and Ontological Ambiguity in theIn vitroMeat Imagescape: From Laboratory Myotubes to the Cultured Burger

Neil Stephens, Martin Ruivenkamp
2016 Science as Culture  
In vitro meat (IVM), also known as cultured meat, involves growing cells into muscle tissue to be eaten as food. The technology had its most high-profile moment in 2013 when a cultured burger was cooked and tasted in a press conference. Images of the burger featured in the international media and were circulated across the Internet. These images-literally marks on a two-dimensional surface-do important work in establishing what IVM is and what it can do. A combination of visual semiotics and
more » ... rative analysis shows that images of IVM afford readings of their story that are cocreated by the viewer. Before the cultured burger, during 2011, images of IVM fell into four distinct categories: cell images, tissue images, flowcharts, and meat in a dish images. The narrative infrastructure of each image type affords different interpretations of what IVM can accomplish and what it is. The 2013 cultured burger images both draw upon and depart from these image types in an attempt to present IVM as a normal food stuff, and as 'matter in place' when placed on the plate. The analysis of individual images and the collection of images about a certain object or subjectknown as the imagescape-is a productive approach to understanding the ontology and promise of IVM and is applicable to other areas of social life. Science as Culture, 2016 http://dx.
doi:10.1080/09505431.2016.1171836 pmid:27695202 pmcid:PMC5022697 fatcat:5s6vtxpwq5h43n7z3s7d33tujq