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Anatomy Live

Anatomy Live: Performance and the Operating Theatre

Edited by Maaike Bleeker
Series: MediaMatters
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Anatomy Live
    Book Description:

    Gross anatomy, the study of anatomical structures that can be seen by unassisted vision, has long been a subject of fascination for artists. For most modern viewers, however, the anatomy lesson hardly seems the proper breeding ground for the hybrid workings of art and theory. We forget that, in its early stages, anatomy pursued the highly theatrical spirit of Renaissance science, as painters such as Rembrandt and Da Vinci and medical instructors shared audiences devoted to the workings of the human body. Anatomy Live turns our modern notions of the dissecting table on its head - using anatomical theatre as a means of obtaining a fresh perspective on representations of the body, conceptions of subjectivity, and own knowledge about science and the stage. Critically dissecting well-known exhibitions like Body Worlds and The Visible Human Project and featuring contributions from a number of diverse scholars, Anatomy Live is not to be missed by anyone with an interest in this engaging intersection of science and artistic practice. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0122-9
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Prologue Men with Glass Bodies
    (pp. 9-10)
    Francis Barker

    Dr Nicolaes Tulp, surgeon and representative of the civil authority, anatomist and frequent office holder in the bourgeois government of Amsterdam. But also a general practitioner who, like Freud, left behind his casehistories, theObservationes,where the body is made text, and in which one of the patients is constrained to spend a winter in bed suffering from the insight that his bones were made of wax and would buckle if he stood up. The sick man was a painter to whom Tulp refers in a way that suggests it was Rembrandt, the most prolific producer of self-portraits ever, who...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. 11-22)
    Maaike Bleeker

    In his classic 1947 ethnography of New Caledonia,Do Kamo: Person and Myth in a Melanesian World,Maurice Leenhardt reports on a conversation between himself and an elderly indigenous philosopher regarding the impact of European civilization on the cosmocentric world of the Canaques. Leenhardt suggested that the Europeans had introduced the notion of ‘spirit’ to indigenous thought. His interlocutor did not agree and remarked that on the contrary, they have ‘always acted in accord with the spirit.’ What the Europeans brought to the Canaques was the notion of body (Csordas in Weiss & Haber, 1999, p. 143). Of course, the Canaques...

  6. Performance Documentation 1: Holoman; Digital Cadaver
    (pp. 23-28)
    Mike Tyler

    Mike Tyler’sHoloman; Digital Cadaverbegan as a collection of songs about a fictional character named J.P. Holoman whose life and death parallel that of real-life murderer J.P. Jernigan. Jernigan received the death penalty in Texas in 1993, but not before donating his body to science. After undergoing MRI scanning and computer tomography (CT), Jernigan’s frozen body was sliced into thousands of paper-thin sections and photographed. When digitally reassembled, he became the ‘universal human meat’: his digitalization resulted in a bloodless, dissectible cadaver for anatomy students and, perhaps, the first immortal man.

    InHoloman; Digital Cadaver,the digital images of...

  7. Digital Cadavers and Virtual Dissection
    (pp. 29-48)
    José van Dijck

    Anatomical dissection is considered an essential ingredient of medical training. By looking at and cutting into dead bodies, future doctors learn to distinguish between healthy and diseased tissue in living bodies, while also gaining an understanding of the three-dimensional shape of organs, veins, and bones. Anatomical dissection literally means to separate the body into pieces; this systematic disassembling of the physical body is justified because it results in an entirely new body – a body of knowledge.¹ More generally, the confrontation with human cadavers functions as an important initiation rite for medical students: not until they have familiarized themselves with...

  8. ‘Who Were You?’: The Visible and the Visceral
    (pp. 49-66)
    Ian Maxwell

    In the opening pages ofThe Rings of Saturn,W.G. Sebald reflects on Rembrandt’sThe Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp.Viewing the painting at the Mauritshuis, he writes,

    We are standing precisely where those who were present at the dissection in the Waaggebouw stood, and we believe that we see what they saw then: in the foreground, the greenish, prone body of Aris Kindt, his neck broken and his chest risen terribly in rigor mortis. (Sebald, 2002, p. 13)

    Sebald’s first observation about the painting is a familiar one. Kindt was a thief, and the use of his body...

  9. Performance Documentation 2: Excavations: Fresh but Rotten
    (pp. 67-74)
    Marijs Boulogne

    A physician told Marijs Boulogne how he fell into a depression for years after having suffered the loss of his newborn baby. ‘How can it be that he, as a physician, does not have an answer to that?’ Boulogne wondered. ‘How come he has so much trouble finding ways to deal with this event?’ His account made her notice the lack of narratives around this topic. It made her decide to create a story about it herself.

    She began by asking herself: ‘What would I do if it happened to me? In what way could I prepare myself for such...

  10. The Anatomy Lesson of Professor Moxham
    (pp. 75-92)
    Karen Ingham

    If you were to enter a theatre of anatomy, what would you expect to see? A musty old museum perhaps, replete with pickled specimens, deformed skeletons, and faded anatomical atlases? Or you may be anticipating a tour of the architectural splendours of the Vesalian Teatro Anatomico in Padua, where executed criminals had their bodies publicly dissected by the master anatomist for the edification of a paying audience of the great and the good. Perhaps, you expect to glimpse these bodies, their skin pinned back by alphabetical markers like so much loose cloth on a lifeless mannequin? Or are you of...

  11. ‘Be not faithless but believing’: Illusion and Doubt in the Anatomy Theatre
    (pp. 93-110)
    Gianna Bouchard

    Michelangelo Caravaggio’s painting of 1603, titledThe Incredulity of Saint Thomas¹,depicts one scene from the New Testament biblical narrative concerned with the resurrection of Christ, described in detail in the Gospel of John. Following his crucifixion, Christ appears to the disciples and reveals the wounds of the crucifixion as proof of his identity, death and resurrection. For reasons not articulated in the narrative, Thomas, another disciple, was not amongst them for this visitation. Unable to accept on faith what his fellow apostles describe, Thomas demands proof of his own before acknowledging the truth of the resurrection: ‘Except I shall...

  12. Performance Documentation 3: De Anatomische Les
    (pp. 111-112)
    Glen Tetley

    De Anatomische Les(The Anatomy Lesson), a choreography of the American dancer and choreographer Glen Tetley, premiered January 28, 1964, in the Koninklijke Schouwburg (Royal City Theatre) of The Hague. The choreography was based on Rembrandt’sThe Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp.InDe Anatomische Lesa male body is laid on the dissection table among a group of seventeenth-century anatomists. The body suddenly revives, gets up, and starts to dance.

    Tetley (1926-2007) first studied medicine before he began his dance studies at Hanya Holm’s modern dance studio in New York. Afterwards he danced with the company of Martha...

  13. Of Dissection and Technologies of Culture in Actor Training Programs – an Example from 1960s West Germany
    (pp. 113-128)
    Anja Klöck

    The practices of representing and constructing certain ways of knowing one’s body in acting theories and acting programs are historically contingent as well as participating in historical long-term processes. Since early modern times, these processes have been conditioned by an interlocking of cultural practices, aesthetic forms, technical innovations, and strategies of producing and transmitting knowledge of the body. In his study of the Renaissance culture of dissection, Jonathan Sawday investigates early modern ways of knowing the body at the intersection of medical discourses, scientific procedures, representational practices, cultural conventions and an increasing emphasis on seeing as a mode of knowledge...

  14. Ocular Anatomy, Chiasm, and Theatre Architecture as a Material Phenomenology in Early Modern Europe
    (pp. 129-146)
    Pannill Camp

    Husserlian phenomenology, long a critical apparatus employed by theatre and performance scholars, is already infiltrated by a theatrical mode of thought that is more or less explicit in much of Husserl’s philosophy. It has chimerically incorporated the architecture of the theatre in the mode of the Western, frontally oriented, proscenium stage. Supporting such a claim requires a careful calibration of the terms of ‘phenomenology’ and of ‘theatre architecture’ as historically bounded modes of thought, each of which reflects an underlying condition of knowing, orconnaissance¹,that is itself conditioned by history. The articulation of thisconnaissanceis manifested in phenomenology’s...

  15. Performance Documentation 4: Camillo – Memo 4.0: The Cabinet of Memories – A Tear Donnor Session
    (pp. 147-150)
    Emil Hrvatin

    In 1998 Emil Hrvatin presented his installationCamillo – Memo 4.0: The Cabinet of Memories – A Tear Donnor Sessionat the Slovenian National Theatre Museum. Hrvatin reconceptualized the idea of theTheatre of Memory,as developed by Giulio Camillo. According to Hrvatin, Camillo is ‘a paradigm of the free mind, the innovator of the theatre, an installation artist in the age of Renaissance, and someone who knew how to conceive the net-like, combinatory nature of communication’ (Hrvatin quoted in Žerovnik, 2003, p. 126). Hrvatin’s installation explored the relationships between visibility and knowledge, individuality and society, and, first and foremost,...

  16. Martin, Massumi, and The Matrix
    (pp. 151-164)
    Maaike Bleeker

    ‘This is anatomy that is alive,’ claims Gunther von Hagens in a promotional video about his famous exhibitionBody Worlds. Body Worldspresents dead bodies preserved via a technique called ‘plastination’ and presented in postures and configurations meant to show viewers how it is with us, in our living bodies. The exhibition thus reiterates what might be called one of the central paradoxes of anatomy, namely the use of dead bodies to teach about living ones. Von Hagens invites us to identify our living selves with these dead ones; these bodies arereal,he claims. But what exactly is so...

  17. Performance Documentation 5: sensing presence no. 1: performing a hyperlink system
    (pp. 165-168)
    Copraij, Jenniches and Kunzmann

    Isabelle Jenniches, Stefan Kunzmann and Renee Copraij presented a short performance in spring 2001, in the historical anatomical theatre in De Waag in Amsterdam. This was once the ‘hometheatre’ of anatomist Nicolaes Tulp, ‘surgeon and representative of the civil authority, anatomist and frequent office holder in the bourgeois government,’ to quote Francis Barker (1995, p. 103). Tulp is the man depicted by Rembrandt in his famousThe Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp,which shows Tulp’s magisterial dissection of the executed criminal Aris Kindt:

    at which Descartes was probably present; anatomist himself, philosopher and legislator of modern subjectivity, who, mediating...

  18. ‘Where Are You Now?’: Locating the Body in Contemporary Performance
    (pp. 169-180)
    Susan Leigh Foster

    The Renaissance anatomy theatre, and the culture of dissection it represents, inaugurated new paradigms of subjectivity and corporeality. It helped to establish the body as a stable and consolidated entity capable of providing a singular perspective onto the world. The inert and mute body of the corpse came to vivify the body as machine, the body that transported a perceiving and thinking subject. As Maaike Bleeker has shown, this regimen of visuality, installed as part of the culture of dissection, began to consolidate a single and seemingly objective perspective from which to view the world (Bleeker, 2002). And, as Jonathan...

  19. Performance Documentation 6: Under My Skin
    (pp. 181-186)
    Ivana Müller

    In Ivana Muller’sUnder My Skin,a group (maximum 20) is invited to ‘step inside’ Müller’s own body to participate in an intimate guided tour through its interior. Ivana’s ‘body’ consists of a maze of wood-framed, variously sized rooms, separated by red curtains. Each room contains different body processes, accomplished by the body’s inhabitants. Tour guides explain the phenomena encountered by the spectators. For instance, the guides point out how body tissue can be repaired (by seamstresses, in the Mending Room) and how accelerated heart beats, which are produced by amplifying the sound of a fly swatt are pre-recorded in...

  20. Anatomies of Live Art
    (pp. 187-204)
    Sally Jane Norman

    Our constant invention of machines and interactive processes to multiply and extend bodily relations to the world is mirrored in the transformations of theatre, its physical organization being tightly intertwined with its dramatic contents. In the past, the shaping and experiencing of theatre have been hugely modified by advances related to mechanics and electricity. Information and communications and biotechnologies are in turn prompting new means to expose live art, and new conceptions of the performing body. Yet all these technological forces continue to animate a theatrical corpus, which is as ancient as it is metamorphic. This text cuts across history...

  21. Performance Documentation 7: Crash
    (pp. 205-210)
    Eric Joris

    In anticipation ofCrash,performed by the Belgium group CREW, I am sitting in the foyer of the Rotterdamse Schouwburg. I am being welcomed, along with three other visitors – eachCrashperformance is for a maximum of four visitors – and my personalCrashbuddy leads me to an individual ‘cell’. She starts to dress me up, putting a helmet-like construction with video goggles and headphones on my head and hanging a bag in front of my belly. Then she buckles me onto an upright table, all the while giving me instructions. Attached to countless cables, I am completely...

  22. Restaging the Monstrous
    (pp. 211-222)
    Bojana Kunst

    The introductory story is old, it belongs to the turn of the sixteenth into the seventeenth century, with two anatomists as its protagonists. Both had an object of anatomical interest: hermaphrodites, wondrous beings combining two sexes in one body, oft en depicted in popular imagination as hairy masculine women or male warriors with satin skin. Both lived in France. The first was Realdo Colombo (writing c. 1550), anatomy practitioner and doctor; the other, also a (highly acclaimed) doctor, named Jean Riolan (writing c. 1614). Colombo described hermaphrodites as the most miraculous of human anatomical specimens because they combined the feminine...

  23. Delirium of the Flesh: ‘All the Dead Voices’ in the Space of the Now
    (pp. 223-244)
    Michal Kobialka

    In the celebratedThe Body Emblazoned(1995), Jonathan Sawday places the dead body at the centre of enquiry into the Renaissance culture of dissection. The abstract idea of theological knowledge about the body (Hoc est corpus meum), which had been given visibility by the dogma of transubstantiation in 1215,¹ was now under a knife, which cut through a corpse. That which was revealed was assigned a non-theological status as well as a rational, not to say empirical, function. From now on, it will be possible to arrange and rearrange the elements constituting the bodily knowledge, displayed both as a corpse...

  24. Performance Documentation 8: Körper
    (pp. 245-250)
    Sasha Waltz

    The fact that Sasha Waltz decided to inaugurate her position as co-director of the Berlin Schaubuhne am Lehniner Platz with a piece calledKörperis no minor issue. The Schaubühne is considered the ‘Holy Grail of dramatic arts’ and ‘the most fiercely intellectual of German theatres’ (Bowen, 2000) and has during the past thirty years promoted some of the greatest names of German text-based theatre. The unprecedented move to not only ‘include’ but to give a position of such privilege as the artistic direction of the company to a choreographer allows ‘the body’ to take centre stage.

    Sasha Waltz’s appointment...

  25. Operating Theatres: Body-bits and a Post-apartheid Aesthetics
    (pp. 251-262)
    Rachel Fensham

    During the Renaissance, as Jonathan Sawday (1995) argues, the operating theatre provided a frame and lens for examining the society of death, crime, sexual politics, class, and medical knowledge. In this model, an operating theatre could be designed to detach organs from a body in order to perpetuate or produce systems and hierarchies of knowledge. Taking an eye, for instance, a structure of optics dissected from its jelly-like orb will inform the notion of a perspectival view and the lens of the camera, while later systems of power will reassemble the dismembered eyeball in the surveillance camera and the endoscope....

  26. Index
    (pp. 263-270)