The Body’s Scale
Since the beginning of times the body is an object of celebration. However the search for spirituality based on the divine soul balanced the form and essence. The Egyptian, Greek and Roman – that symbolize the classic man – searched for the self-representation nearly perfectly. During the Dark Ages – century V to XV – although the representation of the body through drawing and sculpture was vastly known, that was marked by schematic, abstract, uneven aspects, and that still did not express personality. Considered the foundation of the divine soul, the representation of the medieval body covered it. The idea to value the human being emerges in the Renaissance, and from it, the pursuit to know it through the soul of the ethos, the natura, and the pathos. The records of the man’s portrayal began through drawing, painting, and sculpture; molding, then, the general knowledge about itself, the living beings, the planet, and the universe. That was the historical moment when were released the foundation of the technique and technology; which provided the possibilities to knowledge through the representation in the architecture, arts, and the improvement of modern science and medicine.
The understanding of the human body was only possible through practical studies, the dissection, and the noting of anatomy. Some examples are the work done by Shinnin Kawaguchi, Adriaan Van Spiegel, and Bernhard Seigfried Albinus, artists that, through observation and record, registered the object, looking to be loyal to what they saw, with the main objective: to know the details of the human body, desacralizing it and altering their views in order to change general knowledge and science. Marcia Tiburi (2004) claims that in that moment, the body “sets itself up as res extensa, like an object for scientific analysis until it becomes machine, the denying of the organism. Like a set of gears, the body can be analyzed mathematically and geometrically, it can be dissected and divided, weighted and measured.” On this matter, the body starts to assume the condition of artifact, something that not even the genius Leonardo da Vinci – inserted in the universe of knowledge and feelings from his time – could assume. When da Vinci notes the tear-duct, he concludes: “the tears come from the heart to the eyes.” Artigas (1986) interpreted this conclusion with humor and noted, “When there is a mistake in science, it can be fixed with poetry.”
The theme body and machine was explored by many philosophers and researchers, due to the contribution of the records by Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), in his book “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” (translates to “The Factory of the Human Body”), where the comparison with the machine altered the intrinsic relationship between identity and body.
The idea to transform the body in machine, and the opportunity of its reproduction has been a running theme in society since the coming of robotics. The need to understand the human body through drawing, sculpture, and even through photograph are becoming rare. After over five hundred years, to dissect the brain, the most complex area in a human body, it is much simpler to be executed and it goes from cell genome to neuronal circuits – where the information is processed. The computers, though, are improving each day so they can imitate the brain’s functions. Since the Renaissance, records do not correspond to the human needs to register its composition or to obtain perfection through its auto representation. In the contemporary world it is possible to interfere on your own body through esthetic treatment, plastic surgery, approaching an ideal image and liable of reproduction.
The notation drawing, foundation of artistic process by Carlos Rezende, comes from the verb to note, which also means to notice, to distinguish, to contemplate, or even, to discover. After these notes were completed, the idea for the project had elements enough to be launched. The notation drawings were made from anatomy books and constitute graphic commentary about printed records and not about anatomic information. The idea to note the human body helps the process to unveil the behavior from each time period society, aside from clarifying how men see themselves and the world around them.
Curator and Prof. Ana Luisa Howard de Castilho, Ph.D. University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.