Apparently this virtopsy table has been in use at Stanford since April 2011, but this YouTube video was making the rounds on Facebook today. In “Cadaver 2.0” an article in Stanford Medicine Magazine (Summer 2011) a biomedical engineering student who got to work with the Anatomage Table had this to say:
“As a modeling tool and a tool for teaching diagnosis, I think the table holds great potential. It possesses the unique ability to allow us to look at the same body at different layers, with different features present and missing,” Bowler says. “But I have personally found the cadavers most helpful in lab because they allow me to inspect the muscles and bones of a real specimen — nothing is approximated.”
The writer composing the profile recognized an opportunity to introduce a long-argued point about the teaching of anatomy:
For her at least, the cadaver is still the best learning tool, because, well, it’s the real thing.
I’m struck by the use of a female figure in the video. Typically a male figure is shown and usually only from the waist up to avoid nudity and charges of pornography. I’m also struck that these figures are being given faces. From what I remember (and admittedly it’s been a few years) the virtopsy table that was part of the Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body exhibit at the National Library of Medicine removed head/face showing only the outline of a body that was “filled in” with tissue and bone but avoiding identification cues for the viewer.
The boundary between culinary and scientific uses of animals was slippery and at times indistinct. In the mid-sixteenth century, the German naturalist Adam Lonizter began his natural history of animals with a discussion of meat and a sketch of cuts of meat. Conrad Gessner’s 1551 Historia animalium, one of the most important Renaissance works of natural history, included instructions for cooking certain animals, and the Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi included recipes in his account of chickens.
In the past week’s episode of Hannibal, “Relevés,” Lecter reveals his crimes to Abigal Hobbes under the guise of [scientific] curiosity:
“I was curious what would happen. I was curious what would happen when I killed Marissa. I was curious to see what you would do. How like your father you were.”
I had a vague understanding of the connection between the development of gastronomy and of early anatomical study but not the extent of the overlaps in dissection practices and culinary pursuits until running across this post by Anita Guerrini. I wonder if Hannibal’s culinary consultant, Jose Andres, or creator Bryan Fuller knows of this history. In this TV Guide interview from March 2013, neither man makes mention of it (they keep Lecter’s “tastes” within the domain of the refined gourmand) but that seems to limit the character’s medical skills and motivations to simply the tools by which he excises and prepares his “meat.” Maybe, Fuller will explore the anatomical and culinary resonances of butchery in season 2, beyond the fantastical visual sequences of food preparation and consumption that he’s served up so far.
Funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), and published by Open Humanities Press (OHP), Living Books About Life is a series of curated, open access books about life — with life understood both philosophically and biologically — which provide a bridge between the humanities and the sciences. Produced by a globally-distributed network of writers and editors, the books in the series repackage existing open access science research by clustering it around selected topics whose unifying theme is life: e.g., air, agriculture, bioethics, cosmetic surgery, electronic waste, energy, neurology and pharmacology.
published widely on internet research, digital culture and biotechnologies. Her research is at the intersection of science and technology studies and media studies. She is concerned with the ways in which audiences, publics and consumers take up emerging technologies in everyday life. Her most recent work has focused on the biodigital, a point of convergence and intersection between biology, biomedicine and the digital.
This past week Karina Bergmans’s Ligaments and Ligatures opened at City Hall Gallery in Ottawa. Bergmans is a multi-diciplinary artist who in the past has worked on sculptures, public art installations and public interventions. In this series, the artist used reclaimed textiles to create literal interpretations of critical illnesses. Her works include elements of comedy—bright colours, visual puns— and the use of fabric reminds one of stuffed toys and pillows. By using these materials, Bergmans allows us to see and contemplate illnesses and infections without being repelled.
She calls The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic her sixth autobiographical work, since she has been performing her own life — with various directors and herself as the star — for years. For this latest incarnation of her life story, she approached stage veteran Robert Wilson, who she’s known since the 1970s, to direct. “He looked at everything and said ‘I’m not interested in your art… I’m interested in your life. You have so many tragic stories and there is so much humour in them,’” Abramovic recalled. “He said ‘If you present tragic stories on stage as tragedy, it is kitsch. But if you make slapstick humour out of them, then you have a chance to reach people.’“
I can’t help wonder how or why Wilson insists on separating Abramovic’s “life” from her “art” since she’s used so much of her life to build that art. Seems like a subtle dismissal of her artistic influence, not coincidentally by a male artist who works in the same field and circles. But the notion of making humor out of tragedy as the path to an audience is an interesting one.
Raine’s humane wish to persuade us that crime is essentially a clinical disorder or a public health problem is praiseworthy, but his belief that neuroscience should have an increasing role in determining criminal responsibility and sentencing policy is less attractive. Occasionally brain scans turn up abnormalities such as large tumours that explain the sudden deterioration in an individual’s behaviour and they will continue to be useful in this context. But they are unlikely to be of much use in helping us to decide, in the general run of cases, when the brain, rather than the person, should be convicted of a crime. “Neurolaw” is a mirage. We will always need forensic investigations that take account of the complexity, the richness and poverty, of the life history of the accused. A trained imagination may be more powerful than more fashionable brain scans.
Again, forensic data is only one part of the larger picture, larger story. Knowing Raine is an admirer of Lombroso is telling as is the continuing impulse to uncover a biological origin/explanation for murder/violence.
It has been an extraordinary three weeks in the history of the American penal system, perhaps one of the darkest periods on record. In four states, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, the systemic abuse and neglect of inmates, and especially mentally ill inmates, has been investigated, chronicled and disclosed in grim detail to the world by lawyers, government investigators and one federal judge. The conclusions are inescapable: In our zeal to dehumanize criminals we have allowed our prisons to become medieval places of unspeakable cruelty so far beyond constitutional norms that they are barely recognizable.
Portraiture is an art genre that has classically been defined as an artist painting or creating the likeness of the subject of the portrait. This is usually achieved by depicting the features of the person that everyone sees - the outside of their body. Angela Palmer’s work, consisting of both self-portraits and general portraits, challenges the notion of the portrait by depicting the inside of the body. Each portrait is created by drawing or engraving the resulting details of MRI and CT scans of the subject onto glass sheets. The portrait is built up layer by layer on multiple sheets, creating a subject that can be viewed only from certain angles. From above and from the side, the image vanishes and the viewer is left to contemplate space.
Angela Palmer has stated that her concept for this series of works has developed from a love of maps. By marrying medical technology with her artistic practice, she has managed to visualize the ‘inner anatomical architecture’ of the human body, revealing the intimate structures that make up the outer features that typical portraiture depicts. It also allows for fascinating contemplation of the human body itself, showing what is going on beneath the surface on both a functional and psychological level. Angela’s work has also been used for the benefit of science and history, using her concept to scan the and recreate the body of a 2000-year-old Egyptian child mummy without removing his wrappings. The scans even allowed doctors to determine that the little boy had probably died of pneumonia, due to a thickening of his lung. The resulting work is on 111 sheets of glass, and is displayed next to the boy himself in the Ashmolean Museum Collection in Egypt.
To read the artist statement, which includes more information about Angela’s work, click here.
Layered anatomical geography courtesy of glass-medical artists Angela Palmer. I hesitate to call them “transparent” even as the glass medium invites it because of the ways in which the slices prevent our gaze from looking through even as we look into.
Joris Kuipers’ works find their origin in historic, scientific and/or anatomic sources ranging from the woodcuts by Andreas Vesalius to CT-scans, MRI-scans, autopsy images and the plastinations by Gunther von Hagens. As in medical practice, Joris dissects the body layer by layer. After this fragmentation, the body is rearranged in a non-rational manner, in order to reveal emotional significance. The focus in his recent work is on the deconstruction of bodies and heads, inspired by a Tibetan Buddhist ritual, where the body of a deceased person is cut up in pieces in order to set the soul free. Another source of inspiration is deconstructivism, the architectural movement based on the idea of an insecure and confusing society, which is expressed in the design of buildings.
During DNA replication, both strands of the double helix act as templates for the formation of new DNA molecules. Copying occurs at a localized region called the replication fork, which is a Y-shaped structure where new DNA strands are synthesized by a multi-enzyme complex. Here the DNA to be copied enters the complex from the left. One new strand is leaving at the top of frame and the other new strand is leaving at bottom. The first step in DNA replication is the separation of the two strands by an enzyme called helicase. This spins the incoming DNA to unravel it: at 10,000 RPM in the case of bacterial systems. The separated strands are called three prime (3’) and five prime (5’), distinguished by the direction in which their component nucleotides join up. The 3’ DNA strand, also known as the leading strand, is diverted to a DNA polymerase and is used as a continuous template for the synthesis of the first daughter DNA helix. The other half of the DNA double helix, known as the lagging strand, has the opposite 3’ to 5’ orientation and consequently requires a more complicated copying mechanism. As it emerges from the helicase, the lagging strand is organized into sections called Okazaki fragments. These are then presented to a second DNA polymerase enzyme in the preferred 5’ to 3’ orientation. These sections are then effectively synthesized backwards. When the copying is complete, the finished section is released and the next loop is drawn back for replication. Intricate as this mechanism appears, numerous components have been deliberately left out to avoid complete confusion. The exposed strands of single DNA are covered by protective binding proteins. And in some systems, multiple Okazaki fragments may be present. The molecular reality is very different from the iconic image of the double helix neatly separating into two DNA copies as so often depicted.
Animation courtesy of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, USA.