My god, it’s full of stars

Today I are mostly about exhibits in London… Over the past few weeks I’ve been to a couple of shows that are so completely different I thought it was worth mentioning them both.

First up, Body Worlds. This is an exhibit of ‘real human bodies’ in anatomical poses. What this means is basically human bodies that have been put through a process called plastination which replaces flesh with plastic in the same positions. All very useful for doctors and medical research. Body worlds however is for the public, a public that apparently wants to see actual dead people put into stupid positions with apparently very little respect. Not to say there wasn’t interesting parts to this exhibition – the complete blood system had an amazing beauty to it and looked incredibly eerie floating in water on its own – ie, sans body.

But here are my concerns –

    None of what was there couldn’t have just been done with plastic, rather than real bodies.
    How do foetuses and young children give their permission for this? Did these people really know they were going to get gawped at my the general public rather than contributing to medical research.
    The bodies are suspending with little or no protection – so everyone, especially kids, are poking and prodding.
    Flesh post-plastination has no vibrancy. It’s like leather, or even pleather, with none of the beauty and dynamicism of live flesh.
    Most of the bodies have been hacked about to ‘present the best view of how the body works’. Bollocks. How does seeing muscles at right angles to the body help us understand how the body works? At best they are just aesthetically appalling, at worst they are sick.
  • The guy in charge of this, Professor Huygens, is obviously seriously disturbed. There will be no surprise in my mind to finding out in a few years that he’s a serial killer. Definately a ‘must not see’.

    Now onto happier things. I’m in love. Yep, it’s true. Anish Kapoor has created an epic, behemoth of a sculpture in the Tate Modern’s turbine hall. Marsyas is the complete anti-thesis of Body Worlds. The huge sculpture is beautiful and engaging, you really have to see it to believe it. I’ve taken so many photos of this which should shortly be up on my photos site.

    Marsyas is made of three metal hoops, with diameters around 30 metres, with a deep red PVC membrane stretched between them. The PVC membrane reminded Kapoor of flayed human flesh, hence the name, a mythical character who was flayed by the gods. The shear scale of the thing means that you cannot see the whole sculpture at once and you spend a lot of time walking around, constantly seeing new angles. The way the light changes in the turbine hall means that it often seems like you’re looking at a different sculpture.

    The really good thing is that my current job is only a ten minute walk from the Tate Modern, so I went there for lunch three times over the last two weeks. Anyways, it’s on till April next year so if you’re in London go see it, and did I mention it’s free? Yay.Oh – and my latest sad geek toy is Kazaa, a new peer to peer application from which I’ve been downloading Season 7 Buffy episodes. At 400 Mb a pop this takes a few hours, but definately worthwhile. Geek-tastic!

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