Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Materials: Fibre glass / acylic / fabric /CAT scans / metal

Joseph Paul Jernigan was put to death by lethal injection on August 5th, 1993 after twelve years on death row, for the murder of a 75 year old man during a robbery. “Apparently, after talking with a priest, he decided to donate his remains to science, although the motives are still unclear.  The faithful say he was hoping for redemption. Sceptics say Jernigen had a number of reasons for choosing to help science. Donating his body would spare his family the funeral expenses while some speculated that such an uncommon end would inspire a true crime book about his life, the proceeds of which might go to his family. The National Institute of Health sponsored a project to cut his body, using state of the art technology, into 2,000 cross sections. Each extremely thin slice was photographed and digitised, and in 1995 the dataset was unveiled as the “Visible Human Project”. Science rejoiced at the birth of the very first digitalised man and the “Visible Human Project” has been disseminated all over the world thanks to 800 licences eventually arriving on the internet.  The data fills 8.5 million book pages and is expected to serve as a basis for surgical simulations. Jernigen cannot have foreseen what was in store for him at the hands of the state prosecutors, various government authorities and scientists. The juncture between big science, religion and government is especially ironic here if one considers the following: government takes life; big science quantifies and objectifies life; and religion, by the invocation of the Creation Myth, naturalises the entire questionable machine”.