Bodies: where would we be without them. Literally. We all have a body, we use different bits of it to perform different tasks and functions and most of the time we are not even aware of it. Our bodies are incredibly diverse, they present in many sizes and shapes, some of them are capable of extraordinary feats, such as lifting incredible weights or running impossibly fast. All of them are capable of incredible feats, such as transforming food and air into life-sustaining energy, filtering toxins to keep themselves clean, carrying electrical impulses across tissues to complete complex tasks, defending themselves from external threats, replacing damaged tissue with exactly the same kind of tissue and, in some cases, making other bodies that go on to be new humans. Starting in October, an exhibition in Milan will celebrate all this. Real Bodies is a unique event and the first of its kind: an unprecedented collection of plastinated bodies and organs, that have been donated to science, has been put on display, together with amazingly advanced multimedia supports, to accompany visitors on a fascinating journey through the wonders of human anatomy. We have been lucky enough to work with the organisers of this once-in-a-lifetime event, sourcing the perfect location in Milan: Spazio Ventura XV. If you are planning to travel to Northern Italy this autumn, you should not miss the chance to experience scientific knowledge in a whole new way.
Real Bodies: the beauty of science
Over 350 real human organs and bodies have been plastinated and put on display. Although some might find the idea initially gruesome, visitors are encouraged to think that this is exactly how scientific research has progressed so far. By looking at nature and at real human bodies, in order to learn how we function and how we can prevent or correct conditions that affect many of our fellow humans, preventing them from leading happy, fulfilling and pain-free lives. Studying human anatomy is in fact among the greatest act of love and compassions mankind has ever embarked upon and that is also what this exhibition celebrates. Not only the wondrous complexity of our natural bodies, but the dedicated work of generations of researchers and physicians who expanded our collective knowledge and contributed to the significant extension of our average lifespan.
All bodies are beautiful bodies
The Real Bodies exhibition has an educational mission, but it is sure to excite strong emotional responses. The event focuses on the beauty of human anatomy in rather a different way than we are used to when we talk about a body being beautiful. Visitors are encouraged to consider the true beauty of the human body, not in the sense of one particular body being conventionally attractive, but in the sense of every single human body being a magnificently complex machine. The sports section, for instance, will offer examples of bodies engaged in intense physical activity, showing how such a complex system can work in harmony to accomplish seemingly impossible feats such as we have seen in the recent efforts of olympics athletes. This section shows how our bones and muscles, internal organs and systems can endure extremely stressful conditions in order to push our bodies to the limits of their physical capabilities. The section focusing of human reproduction is sure to incite an equally intense emotional response and so are the sections showing what happens to our organs and tissues when they are struck by a disease, damaged by external agents or compromised by genetic disorders.
To learn is to love
There are several remarkable facts that we mostly ignore about our bodies. If we ever learn about them, we rarely retain them and we push them to the back of our minds along with most of the notions we acquire in school. How often do we go about our day being actually conscious of the fact that the bones supporting our bodies are harder than iron, but lighter than aluminum and that they only regenerate when they are broken? How often do we consume food thinking of how the nutrients that we are ingesting will still be traceable within our bones long after we have forgotten about that particular meal? How often are we aware of the fact that we never had to learn how to breathe or pump blood through our system, as our bodies do those things without our volition and thus keep us alive? Learning how our bodies work is the first step for us to love and cherish them, regardless of what they look like. Suddenly you will find it much more reasonable to compare your body to that of animals who can do things like flying unsupported, seeing in the dark or breathing underwater, rather than to other human bodies who differ from yours in height or girth and whose pigmentation is different from your own. And even then, if you feel you are getting overly jealous of passing owls or your daughter’s goldfish, remember that you belong to a species that has evolved far enough that it can solve complex equations, play the piano and take bodies apart, understand how they work and fix them when they break. Also you have opposable thumbs, which allows you to eat ice cream with a spoon and hold a video-game console controller.