Sunday, April 12, 2009

Anatomia - Alpha Auer's 3D anatomical drawings of a different sort

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

For – like forever – when I thought of the human body, it was always in the context of Gray’s Anatomy, the classic textbook developed by British anatomist and illustrator Henry Gray, or Leonardo’s studies of the human skeleton. The yucky factor was zero and none of it, from my POV, was related to me or my body. Like a flood taking place in some remote village in China, it was something that was happening somewhere else.

This photo of the Anatomia installation by Alpha Auer

Now Alpha Auer (aka Elif Ayiter), my co-blogger here and creator of the ground-breaking Syncretia sim in Second Life® (see here and here and here), and also Body Parts, has come up with another way to look at our bodies. In essence, she’s turned us inside out and fanned out our musculature and appendages in a way that barely resembles the real human bodies that are on display in the world-touring exhibit Bodies, inviting many new questions about our self-schema.

Teleport to Anatomia from here and "buy" the outfit that is offered there. Put it on and become a part of the installation. Then you might understand that Alpha doesn't want the visitor to "have illusions of grandeur regarding her elevated status as a human, or indeed even an animal or mammal. I want her to be vulnerable, perishable, impure. I want her to gaze upon something other than her - in its cleanliness, its shiny surfaces, its clean bright lines, its mechanical perfection." In fact, Alpha has added the horns of a demon, as well as botanical growths.

On her blog, Alpha explains,"I have tried to deliberately make the dweller of the exhibit un-clean… Not the pristine, sharp black and white image assembly, with the odd spot of clean bright color here and there, but something mussed up with organic textures, layered and superimposed with elements that seem confusing and out of sync. The avatar of Anatomia is quite fragile: This is not a perfect, unbreakable machine, a thing rendered to help us gain insight into the workings of a superlative system. But rather a black and yellow mass - the colors of when things go bad in our bodies. Not the red of living blood but the low saturation of decay."


Alpha Auer said...

Thank you Bettina!

A conspicuous increase in green dots at the location led me to check out whether you had indeed posted on Anatomia, as you said you would - and sure enough you have.

"none of it, from my POV, was related to me or my body. Like a flood taking place in some remote village in China, it was something that was happening somewhere else." That is precisely the state of mind which I am trying to draw attention to here.

I believe we all are prone to this, except doctors and veterinary surgeons of course: They are trained to perceive an anatomical drawing quite differently, to relate what they "see" to what is viscerally "there". In fact, I know of cases where people have dropped out of medical training during the first few weeks of studies when they realized just exactly what it is that is involved in "Anatomy 101" at Med School...

Again, thank you!

Alpha Auer said...


I have just realized through my alt Grapho's transaction history (he is the one "selling" the anatomical avatar at 0L$'s) that only a tiny percentage of the visitors to Anatomia are actually wearing the avatar when there.

Unfortunately, without the avatar the installation itself is quite meaningless: Nothing but an assembly of black and white images rezzed in a black sphere really...

So please please please, if you make the effort to go all the way out there - please wear the avatar as well! Otherwise you may find it to be a bit of a wasted journey I fear...


Jenn Forager said...

Alpha, I have now brought several visitors to Anatomia. I consider it to be a pivotal Second Life experience, which upsets and unbalances, but is an extraordinary use of the medium. Congrats! and thank you. I was very moved.