Ghosts from indescretions past

The story so far: in 1993 a convicted murderer was executed.  His body was given to science, segmented, “shaved” and photographed for medical research and the Visible Human Project.  In 2011, Art Director Croix Gagnon and photographer Frank Schott put him back together for Project 12:31 (the exact time of the execution by lethal injection).

The results speak for themselves : ghostly forms against urban americana backdrops… spooky, intriguing and a little bit bonkers all at the same time.  The method is a mixture of techniques but based around utilising the underlying animation based on the 1871 “slices” of the Texan murderer.

Which reminds me of a relevant anecdote…  Back in the mid 90’s a friend of mine had a summer internship with a orthopaedic surgeon working at the hospital in our home town.  His job?  To manage the process of creating the same sort of animations as used in the Visible Human Project.

When I went to visit him he showed me in great detail the entire process: take a part of the human body (in his case anything with a joint; knees, elbows, shoulders etc.); pin it in place and pour clear resin around it and let it set hard.  Take the newly set resin block containing the body part and fix it in a contraption that was a mix of a plane and a camera rig.  For each slice shave a piece off the top with the plane; blow with some compressed air to clean the surface; photograph; check image and repeat…  so it’s not really slicing, more like curled white chocolate if memory serves.  

He was explaining this while doing the deed with a half-done arthritic knee joint – and it all looked a little unreal as it does to a certain extent with the finished animation.  However in the corner of the room was a freezer…   In the cold store were more body parts in various stages of being prepared for photography.  Thankfully there were no heads in there – but there were plenty of recognisable extremities and I especially remember a lower arm and hand stretching out pinned and only half enclosed in resin…  Gruesome!

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