puppets to a higher power, we are the dead, driving in our cars (after Virilio, & further, albeit tangentially, rather than illustratively, to the previous post: the endless and erotic fascination of the endlessly posable crash test cadaver or dummy; crash test sex)

we now know how much it takes to injure every major bone and organ in the body …

if humans are packaged carefully they can withstand even severe smashes …

The work began in the late 1950s, at Wayne State University in Detroit. The first part of the body to be studied was the head.

Initially the experiments were fairly primitive. Embalmed corpses from the university medical school were dropped down a disused lift shaft onto a metal plate. It turned out that the head was surprisingly strong – it could take a load of about a ton and a half for a fraction of a second without injury.

Cadaver testing has continued ever since. … all manufacturers make use of the data from the experiments performed primarily in the USA, France, Germany, and Japan.

Everything from the larynx to the patella has been smashed …

it’s never been fully accepted that this is a fitting use for the dead.

And there are the children. Child crash protection is hampered by the lack of information about children’s tolerance to impact – and the only way to provide that data is to perform experiments on dead children – which at the moment, none of the major car producing nations will permit.

– text by Sam Roberts for Horizon, a programme made for the BBC, 1998

See also Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Norton, 2003

Paris Hilton Autopsy, sculpture by Daniel Edwards

the Hilton sculpture has an open abdominal cavity and its innards are removable, as if the Simple Life star were really being splayed out for an autopsy. All of the internal organs have been rendered to scale and visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to don a pair of gloves and pick through the plaster-and-clay remains.

– emailkey