Friday, April 19, 2013

Totally Plastic

Well, not exactly...
Prepare to be astonished, shocked and amazed. 
To give you the Wikipedia write up, "Body Worlds is a travelling exhibition of preserved human bodies and body parts that are prepared using a technique called plastination to reveal inner anatomical structures. The exhibition's developer and promoter is German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, who invented the plastination technique in the late 1970s."

With Wikipedia out of the way, how about I tell you a bit about it?

The Body Worlds exhibition is currently in South Africa, touring to Cape Town and Johannesburg. My school decided since it's the end of term, and because the exhibition is incredible, they just had to take us to go and see it. Once arriving, we were taken inside in controlled groups, and boy... I was stupefied. 

The bodies are totally real, every capillary, every cartilage strip, every muscle fibre - well, except for the eyes. During a process called plastination, the cadaver bod are steeped in acid tone and many other substances so as to produce the final outcome - a completely unimpaired body. The bodies are then placed in shapes that depict various human activities such as playing an instrument, ice-skating, jumping a fence, sitting on a swing or playing basket ball.

Some of the body depictions and dissections are also quite controversial. 

Though not in the exhibit I saw, there are various bodies depicting babies in the womb. Some people may have a issues with regard to the baby - it is a real baby after all. I found it rather fascinating. Also, there are various bodies that depict the reproductive process. Not suitable for younger viewers, but the section is blocked off to adolecants younger than 16-ish.

Then there was one I did see, and well, I found it downright creepy.

The central and peripheral nervous systems, laid out in the shape of the human body. My version was lying flat, but the above...(shudders) I just think it looks unequivocally eerie. Don't you?

I mentioned the blood vessel network of organs, and here it is. The real capillaries, real veins and real arteries of the head. I'm not certain how they actually extract the microscopic capillaries, but let me tell you, they did somehow.

Lastly, I think the mister below was the one display every single person who walked through the center remembers. He looks like he's alive, despite his head being sawn in half. (Chuckles)
At one point, at least 20 people stood around him, simply staring.

We were waiting to see if he'd open his eyes.

(Shakes head) Unbelievable.

Here are also two videos, firstly on what the entire Body Worlds is about and then how the bodies are preserved through plastination.

If this magnificent exhibition happens to be in your city/town, I beg you, go and see it. It is worth it.