Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Visiting the Bodies Exhibition

This first week of classes has been a whirlwind of incredible experiences. Meeting all of my new teachers has been very exciting and I'm looking forward to working with them. I was pleasantly surprised by one of the activities that I had the opportunity to participate in. For my Communication and Ethics class, we visited the Bodies exhibit. If this experience was any indication, the rest of the semester is going to be an incredible journey.

The purpose of the Bodies exhibition is to “inform, empower, fascinate and inspire the visitor” (Bodies pamphlet). The medical professionals and scientists behind this exhibition have created an impressive experience. The complexity of the human body is showcased through the use of real specimens. These are preserved through a “plastination” process. In other words, the specimens are essentially rubberized. As strange or alien as this may sound, seeing the specimens in person is powerful. The many biological systems of the human body are displayed both collectively in everyday poses that we can relate to and also in more isolated presentations. Several specimens were in sports activity poses to illustrate the complexity of the muscular system. In my favorite part of the exhibition, the circulatory and respiratory systems were individually shown. The manner in which they were presented, however, was truly striking. Branching and colorful blood vessels appeared as otherworldly flowers on the black background of the surrounding room.

While the beauty of the human body's systems was certainly apparent in the exhibit, it was by no means the only main theme. A major theme that I picked up on was the vast importance of the individual parts of a body to the body as a whole. The exhibition educates, achieves change, and improves its visitors by demonstrating the effects of smoking. Seeing actual smoke damaged lungs is powerful encounter when presented alongside the organs and bodily systems that rely on them. Through this aspect of the exhibit, we learn the ways in which our bodies are robustly engineered and strong systems, but also the ways in which they are fragile when not cared for properly.

It was not hard for me to draw connections between this exhibit and my actual field of study in electronic games. Much like the human body, a production team is a complex system composed of several smaller systems. When one of them is not properly cared for, the health of the team as a whole is at risk of being compromised. This can be as literal as the actual physical condition of a team member, or as metaphorical as the social interactions between one team member and the rest of the team. Every part of a team must be in equilibrium with its other parts for it to succeed.

Of course, we visited the Bodies exhibit in my Communication and Ethics class for a reason. We were beginning an exploration of ethical issues and how they relate to commercial entities. Bodies is a great place to start on this discussion because there has been some controversy surrounding it since its creation and it can therefore serve a microcosm for other industries. I look forward to more incredible activities and learning experiences this semester and can't wait to further explore the lessons learned from this one.


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