Death Crystals Thrive On Sliced Up “Human Organs”

February 21, 2013 | Julia Dawidowicz

Hanging from the ceiling of the Industry Gallery in Washington, DC are 3D-printed replicas of a real man’s organs, illuminated by neon tubes that have been shoved through them obtrusively. Other lifelike body parts float in vats of warm water saturated with a special powder that allows potassium aluminum sulphate crystals to grow– and thrive– on the organs. Visitors can also observe as the crystals, almost parasitically, consume the exteriors of nine different MRI scans taken of the same man.

This is The Invisible Human, an interactive installation from artist Tobias Klein in which visitors (either in person or online) can manipulate the crystals’ growth by increasing, or redirecting, the heat flow within the mock-organ tanks.

The project is inspired by The Visible Human, a controversial 1994 study in which scientists sliced up the body of convicted murderer Joseph Paul Jernigan into 1,871 layers for the public to see. While the Jernigan’s “donation” vastly improved our knowledge of human anatomy, the man (whose crime, by the way, was shooting the elderly man who botched his attempted microwave theft) never exactly consented. Rampant ethical debate ensued.

According to Klein, “The body sections are given shape through crystallisation processes echoing those that occur in the body as it dies.” You are invited to participate in the slow and beautiful degeneration of these symbolic organs by visiting The Invisible Human‘s website.