Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Slices of You

Sunday 15 March 2009

As mentioned in my last blog post, after returning from Oxford, we had an engagement with seeing a load of sliced up bodies preserved in plastic. No, this wasn't an appointment with a serial killer, rather, it was a visit with a crazy German with a hat.

We visited the Body Worlds exhibition at the O2.

Body Worlds is an exhibition of real bodies which have been preserved, dissected and covered in plastic. A German chap called Gunther von Hagens has a calling for doing this and we found it to be a very unique experience. Great to be passionate about something! :-)

The first thing we saw when we went in was a whole bunch of embryos at different stages of development. The exhibition then moved on to bodies of people in different poses, with layers of skin peeled back and plasticised. It was a little unsettling for at least the first 5-10 minutes, but then you quickly get used to it. Just remember - these are real bodies, not models or constructs and it has had its fair share of controversy.

There were cross sections of many parts of the body, so you could see exactly how we are made and all the layers that lie beneath the skin. Beauty is only skin deep, and we all look the same underneath! There were also cross sections of parts of nearly all human organs, as well as tumours. Interesting to see the comparison of a smokers lungs with those of a non-smoker.

It wasn't just the human body - there were animals as well, including a horse, camel and giraffe. Truly odd standing next to the giraffe – they really are incredibly tall magnificent beasts.

As for a lot of exhibitions, we weren't allowed to take photos, but I have managed to find a few online which I have included below to give an idea of what we saw. This particular exhibition had the the them 'The Mirror of Time' and focused on the ageing process and how a lot of older people keep themselves young (80 and 90 year olds who are still very active).

Deep in thought

I wonder if the hat was Gunther's idea?
this guys muscles were pulled off of him to the side... he was weird... he spun around in circle
Give me some skin man!
this guy was holding his skin.... i think thats the creepiest one
Giddy Up!
this was a horse with two people on it... the people are holding the horses brain and a human br
Body in front, skeleton behind
This guys skeleton was behind him and his muscles were off in front of him
Pregnant woman
Some pregnant woman cut open to show the fetus
And here are a couple of videos from youttube.

Body World Exposition: Part 1

Body World Exposition: Part 2

History Channel from Brazilian TV

Here's a couple of quick and funny videos with Jonathan Ross interviewing Gunther von Hagens and having a staring contest.

A fascinating and eye opening experience that left me feeling a little bit icky for a short while, but at the same time I was very glad that there are people who leave their bodies to be plasticised in this way for educational purposes. Personally, I'm not sure if I would want to be plasticised (there were forms available if you were keen!), but organ donation...that's something else altogether.


Ness and Dave said...

Wow, that truly is amazing. Kind of a cross between science and art. But hard to imagine they were once alive!

The pregnant woman one is the surprising one as I'm amazed they got permission to use both the mother and baby's bodies.

Hmmm don't testicles look funny exposed like that! :-)

Foo said...

Yeah, the pregnant woman was a bit surprising, but prior to this we had seen half a dozen foetuses at various stages of development, so that adjusted the mind as it were.

I guess the mother gave permission for herself and her baby to be used prior to death. It seems that anyone can agree to give their body for donation, and they even have meetings every two years (obviously when they are still alive)! You can also choose whether you wish for your body to exhibited anonymously or not and you can be an organ donor and still be plasticised.

C&G said...

We saw the exposition in 2004, when - on a world tour - it was in London for a while. The trip (then) from Amsterdam to London was very worthwhile. The original German exhibition title was "K├Ârper Welten". Back in 2004 the giraffe and pregnant woman weren't part of the exhibition.

We recognise much of your experience.

Foo said...

Thanks Guus - lovely to hear from you and I am trying my best to add some more to the blog :-)