ephemera, Illustration

What the F…riday!

A little visual treat for you. It is by no means new on the web (see the links at the end of this post) but it is (sort of) new to me and I thought I’d share it with you. I spotted this in our science laboratory at college a while ago and was recently compelled to go and get it for reference for a student project. I also took the opportunity of getting a large high-resolution image too. It is a scientific wall chart for school and college use from (at a guess) the late 1940’s/early 1950’s, measures 93cm (36.5″) high x 48cm (19″) wide and is canvas backed:

This is a great bit of futuristic thinking! Just check out the high-tech optical equipment used to illustrate the function of the eye:

And the visual metaphors for intelligence (chin stroking!) and judgement (Sit down Gerald, you are making an utter fool of yourself!):

(The next bit is to be read in a clipped BBC accent) “And let’s not forget that this is modern ‘Great Britain,’ and the ladies have firmly found their places in this modern world! Yes, these plucky gals now spend their days processing all the nerves in nerve centre, where there is hardly a moment for them to chat, but they still take the time to look pretty!”

Yes, this is the only female presence in the image.

I have a large high-resolution version of this image available if any would like one, just email me and I will send you one.

So I started looking for a bit more information to add with this post, just hoping to flesh things out a bit, but I got a little more than I bargained for. I had seen a german version of this on the web some years before, and had a small JPEG of it sat in a folder in my WTF area for ages, but had not really given it much thought. So I had a look on the web for a little information on that, and it appears to be the original version:

Much nicer typographically and with a little more detail and a little less women too (those Germans!). This is quite a famous image it seems, by the German gynaecologist Fritz Kahn, who was also responsible for a wide range of similar and more fantastical images based upon the human body viewed as machines. I have included a few links at the end of this post should you want to explore more of Kahn’s work.

These were the kind of images I was subjected to at school: out of date and unpolitically correct visualations of the world, as populated by little tiny human men, making everything work properly. I am immediately reminded of The Numskulls and Herman’s Head. I wonder if there is a politically correct/updated version?

Adam, Rouilly & Company; the company who produced the british one are still going, and appear to be a market leader in the supply of medical charts and models, and have been in business for a grand 90 years! Although their modern products are more politically correct and artistically/graphically more sophisticated, I do think that a little of the romance has gone…

Fritz Kahn official website
British Library ‘Bodies of Knowledge’

Interesting blog post
Adam, Rouilly & Company


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