9 October 2010

Man As Industrial Palace

In 1926 Dr. Fritz Kahn created this poster of human bodily functions, Man as Industrial Palace, based on mechanics. Dr. Kahn was made famous for his use of mechanical metaphors to show the workings of the human body.

This modernist visualisation show the body as a factory - perhaps a chemical plant - and was created when Germany had the most advanced chemical industry in the world.  

He produced a five volme series, Das Leben des Menschen (The Life of Man) which was considered a high point of German publishing in the nineteen twenties but his books were first banned and then burned by the Nazi regime of the following decade.  Some were reproduced later in to the regime with anti-semitic chapters included which would have horrified Kahn.

Artist Henning Lederer came across Kahn's work in 2006 and was immediately drawn to the possibility of animating the poster.

The strange and complex explanations detailed by Kahn of the body's functions does indeed make for a fascinating piece of animation, particularly the idea of replacing the the biological with the mechanical - almost steampunk before it was invented.

As well as creatuing the animation, Hennig also worked on a full installation, placing the animations in to a cabinet with which people could interact.  Unfortunately, that cannot be reproduced here but the animation itself is very, very cool.