Plastination! – Michael Chen

Plastination is  a process of preserving a human body or other organic form using polymers.  First, the bodies are embalmed and then dried out before being filled with reactive polymers which replace the water and fat in the tissue and allow the body or body part to be posed for display and study.  Gunther von Hagens created an exhibition titled “Body Worlds”, which was also the topic of this week’s lectures.  Von Hagens was the first artist to exhibit plastins (or plastinates) as art pieces as well as objects of scientific study.

The use of actual human cadavers and corpses of other animals as art objects raises some debate regarding the use of dead organisms in “art”.  The display of these items, however, is not much unlike the way the scientific community displays them.  Few objections are raised over the use of cadavers in a science setting.  I personally do not feel there is anything wrong with using human body parts as a medium for art, as the resulting plastins are also of use scientifically.  I do, however, also like Cassi Padget’s idea of challenging the artist to create something just as intriguing and beautiful using artificial means.


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