Posts tagged ‘Joseph Jernigan’

April 11, 2011

Le Sacré Corps

The US National Library of Medicine has something they call The Visible Human Project® (also on Wiki). In 1993 they took the body of an executed criminal from Texas, Joseph Jernigan, to try and better visualize human anatomy.
The doctors encased the body in a gelatin and water mixture and then froze it to stabilize it. It was then “cut” into 1,871 sections, 1 millimeter apart and each part was photographed to create a detailed set of anatomical visualizations.

Croix Gagnon, an American artist, put the “slices” together to create this video. (More about the art project after the break.)

Now the reason I put the words cut and slices in scare quotes is that neither of them are exactly right. The body frozen in the gelatin and water was ground down millimeter by millimeter, in a way that completely, entirely destroyed the specimen. The video is not only an accurate visualization of the body, but a sped up record of its destruction.

If ever there was an example of the potentially destructive nature of the curious human gaze, this is it.

Croix Gagnon created that video as part of his art project 12:31. (12:31am is the time Joseph Jernigan was executed.) Along with the photographer Frank Schott, he created “light paintings” of the entire cadaver “to put it back together.” (Click the link for all the photos.)

Perhaps not quite bringing him back to life, but turning an entirely destroyed specimen of a cadaver back into something sacred: the body.