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Body Worlds

  • 13th Feb, 2006 at 4:26 PM

Body Worlds 2
Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

Last Saturday, I was supposed to meet up with a group of people to see the Body Worlds 2 exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre.

This was going to happen in the early afternoon, but logistics and a freak torrential downpour delayed our trip. It is not supposed to rain in early February, but the weather decided it would give us a big surprise.

Because Cindy was in town, visiting her parents, I decided to give her a ring. I considered that perhaps she'd have a professional interest in seeing human bodies, but then I thought it might remind her too much of work. Although she was skeptical that she'd enjoy the exhibit, and initially thought it a film, I persuaded her to go.

I tried calling abelynx but wasn't able to get in touch again. So I drove over to Cindy's place, picked her up, and we went off together.

Since Cindy and I known each other since middle school, she is the second oldest friend that I still talk to on a regular basis. It also means that we both went to school in Toronto. And that we went to the Science Centre in school. Only back then, the Science Centre looked like a big bunker situated on the side of a ravine. Now it has a glass and steel facade, which makes it much more unrecognisable. We were both rather confused, until we got into the downstairs lobby and saw the waiting pits.

If you've ever gone on a school trip to the Science Centre, you know what those are. They're large, semi-circular depressions in the ground that are painted primary colours. Groups of children would sit there while their teachers paid and got organised, while parental volunteers would try to keep the little boys from killing each other out of boredom.

Since the main building was closed, we both headed upstairs and lined up to get in. Once inside, we started down a long hallway that was full of glass cases. These were displays that focused on the skeletal system: we saw an artificial hip that looked really cool. And they had peeled open a leg with an artificial knee, so that you could see how it fit in with the whole structure.

The next impressive thing was a skeleton with everything removed except for the nervous system. Cindy was blown away by how well done that was, because apparently it is very easy to damage these nerves. I was surprised at how much of the system was unprotected by the skeletal structure!

Throughout the exhibit were entire human bodies that had undergone plastination. From what I understand, the procedure replaces soft-tissue with a coloured polymer. There was a plastinated liver that we could touch, and it felt much like a soft, matte plastic. But it was quite firm, which explains some of the displays.

There were corpses that were positioned much like sculptures: a man kicking a soccer ball, a woman posed as a dancer, a man pole-vaulting, a pair figure-skating, and many more. All of them had some parts removed to expose some system of the human body. It was all rather creepy but also rather fascinating.

By the time we finished with all the exhibits, the place was closing down so we walked out the gate. I picked up a poster for Neela, since I wasn't able to get in contact with her, and thought she might like something for her rather spartan flat. Then we headed off for a spot of late night coffee and conversation.

Unfortunately, we picked a coffee shop that actually closes, so we had to stop our lively chat and go home. Cindy seemed to enjoy herself far more than she expected to, which was nice to hear. And I highly recommend seeing it, if it comes to your neighbourhood.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
13th Feb, 2006 22:06 (UTC)
I saw the equivalent of this exhibit in New York, and ran into Natalie Portman there.
No, she was not on display. She was there with her mom or something....
13th Feb, 2006 23:04 (UTC)
Isn't it weird how famous people have home-lives too?
13th Feb, 2006 22:15 (UTC)
The waiting pits! And the long, enclosed moving walkway (escalator) with great views of the ravine! Ah, memories of primary school.

I think I need to go visit again when I am back in Toronto.
13th Feb, 2006 23:06 (UTC)
Yeah. I wish we could have sat there for a while, but there were some bratty kids running around.
14th Feb, 2006 17:38 (UTC)
hey, hi!

How did you like the one where they left the girl's hair on, and spread her shoulderblades out like wings? creepy.

Science, art or necrophilia... which do you think?
15th Feb, 2006 12:28 (UTC)
Yes, creepy but also awesome.

I'm fairly sure that science and art are at their most perfect when they are intertwined. And this seems to be something that both laymen and experts can appreciate.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )