The Quickie

A bite-sized look at this week's news…

Dr. von Hagen’s new bodies in Mirror of Time

Posted by lsjlaura on October 28, 2008

The latest Body Worlds exhibition now displays 200 corpses to interest and educate the public about the ageing process of human life. 

Dr. Gunther von Hagens often has mixed reactions for his work and has previously gained praise but has also been dubbed Dr Death for his controversial use of the dead to create art and lessons in anatomy.

In his new “Mirror of Time Show”, he has used the bodies of all ages including babies and the elderly. This time he explores the results of time and poor health on the human body.

He uses the unique technique of revealing the muscles and organs of the bodies and injecting them with plastic known as “plastinisation”. The idea for another technique he uses comes from 3D MRI scans, where von Hagen cuts cross sections of the body into wafer thin pieces.

Dr. Gunther reveals the show’s purpose:

 “The exhibition is all about the cycle of life, from the spark of conception to the development of a mature body”. 

“People will learn about their bodies. They will see how fragile and how strong the body is. They will learn to take care of their bodies – eat less food, smoke less and refrain from drugs.”

Upsetting?

However some may find the show distasteful or disrespectful. For example, one part of the exhibit displays a woman whose stomach has been opened to reveal an unborn baby.

Perhaps this is one of the more emotionally stinging displays as it presents two bodies, which we would not usually associate with being dead. Has the sensationalist approach over stepped the mark? However Dr. Gunther also remarks that:

“Of course, to bring people in and ignite their curiosity, their body interest and health consciousness, I have to be sensationalist, but that must never overshadow the educational aim.”

 Powerful messages

Whether thought to be beautiful or gruesome, the exhibition can portray powerful messages. There is an example in the exhibition of a damaged pair of lungs from a previous smoker.

 One man Kevin Walsh, told the times, “I took my 8 year old son to the previous Bodyworlds, and let him handle the two lungs. He still remembers 5 years later, and will never smoke.”

The Body Worlds exhibition is the second of its kind to be shown in London and is thought to be less sensationalist than the last one which opened in 2002. His shows have been shown across the world. The Mirror of Time show is now displayed at the O2 bubble in Greenwich.

By Laura James- laura.james@my.westminster.ac.uk

Click here for background piece.

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