While our bodies are convoluted labyrinths filled with all kinds of fluids which create joy as well as pain; Gray’s anatomical drawings elevate our inner workings to the precision of a perfect scientific diagram. Quite controllable, indeed predictable. What seems to be implied is that this vulnerable body with which we are endowed can be a perfect machine, incapable of malfunction, incapable of decay…
The “dweller” of this installation has been made to stand apart from the drawings which have generated her… Not the pristine, sharp black and white image assembly, but something mussed up with organic textures, layered and superimposed with elements that seem confusing.
She is not all human either: The human elements have been woven into shapes which are reminiscent of botanical growth, sprouting from her shoulders and her knee. And horns adorn her head and circle her ankle and her midriff, since it is also deemed desirable by the artist that she be endowed with attributes of fauna. It is not wanted that this visitor to an exhibition of anatomical drawings has illusions of grandeur regarding her elevated status as a human, but instead be vulnerable, perishable and biological, gazing upon the drawings around them in juxtaposition to their own fragile avatar bodies and becoming aware of the difference: The cleanliness, the shiny surfaces, the clean bright lines, the mechanical perfection and the perishable body in its earthen refuse tones.
Thus what is aimed for is the creation of a sense of split, of distantiation between the visitor, clothed in the avatar described above and provided at the installation’s location and the surrounding in which he/she find themselves. Can we attain this sense of our own fragility, the messiness of our innards, the thin line between a working and a malfunctioning organic mechanism, the fluids (fresh as well as refuse) coursing through our system when we visit the places where such anatomical drawings are displayed in Real Life? The artist’s hunch is that our Real Life persona, clothed in its everyday attire, more often than not in the company of others, keeps the wolf of self-perception form the door; enabling one to hide behind the security of intellectual appreciation of the superb craft which is present in the anatomical drawings compiled and created by the likes of Dr. Henry Gray. The Anatomical Avatar will hopefully make its inhabitant perceive the difference between the flesh and blood body and the schematic, precise depictions of an idealized mechanism…
Anatomia can be visited in Second Life® at:
All the anatomical drawings of Henry Gray have been obtained from Bartelby (bartleby.com/107/), from whom I have obtained the necessary permission for the purposes of this work.