, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 85-107

Virtual Anatomy: From the Body in the Text to the Body on the Screen

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Abstract

This paper analyzes the transformations in anatomical representation introduced by the Visible Human Project, the first complete virtual anatomy object. By comparing the process of production of book based classical anatomy with that of the Visible Human Project, the paper identifies the medium specificity of anatomical knowledge, the extent to which its powers of demonstration and analysis are conditioned by the medium in which they take place. The paper argues that anatomy can be productively thought of as a kind of writing practice, in which material flesh is written into different media as traces. Because the production of such traces always involves the destruction of the body involved the paper also interrogates the biopolitical hierarchies involved in anatomical knowledge.