Anthropomorphic Maps and the

Human Shape of the Holy Land

Chapter 2 - Imaginary Anatomy


The basic activity of the human being is body care: Eating, Cleaning, Health, etc... We think of the anatomic body as the internal reality which reflects our position toward the world.


Hygiene board

Hygiene board


The interior of the body is hidden from us. What happens beneath the skin is mysterious, frightening, fascinating. In the distant past the internal structure of the human body was a matter of speculations, fantasies and scant research. There were only few attempts to represent it in pictures. The development of the anatomical research, together with the invention of printing technology in the 15th century and the flow of printing technologies which followed, helped giving inspiration to a new spectacular Anatomy: The imaginary Anatomy flourished, full of details but also weird, surrealistic, beautiful and ridiculous Exposing the outer world as much as the inner world.


At the beginning of the Modern Era [1450- 1750], the border between art and science was not defined yet. The Anatomy experts and their partners the artists used familiar ways of representations Descriptions through religious, artistic and landscape symbols. The artists tried to create accurate drawings, but also amazing, beautiful and entertaining.


The drawing 'Toviah's Deed' by Toviah Katz

'Toviah's Deed' by Toviah Katz [1652-1729], compares between the house and the body interiors


Between the years 1680-1800 the Anatomy experts started to remove the imaginary components from the scientific drawing. The reliability of Anatomy, they claimed, was damaged by the visual metaphors, imaginary landscapes and comic poses. After the elaboration of the primitive printing techniques, a style of brilliant, dreamlike hyper authenticity was created. It showed, in great artistic talent and sophisticated knowledge, an updated perception of Anatomy.


The hyper-realistic Anatomy of Govard Bidloo [1640-1711]

The hyper-realistic Anatomy of Govard Bidloo [1640-1711] was inspired by a fashionable morbid painting style


In the early 20th century, Fritz Kahn produced a succession of books on the inner workings of the human body, using visual metaphors drawn from industrial society - assembly lines, internal combustion engines, refineries, dynamos, telephones, etc... The body, in Kahns work, was "modern" and productive, a theme visually emphasized through modernist artwork. Though his books sold well, his Jewishness, and public advocacy of progressive reform, made him a target for Nazi attacks and he escaped to America in 1940.


the body as a chemical plant

Kahns visualization of the body as a chemical plant was conceived in a period when the German chemical industry was the worlds most advanced


Thanks to a considerable number of prominent artists the anatomic representation returns in the current years to offer us traces into our 'Inner Self', through advanced simulators and visual technologies. We receive a mirror image of our internal structure which is also a stimulus for dreams.


The artist/scientist/journalist Alexander Tsiaras receives his inspiration from the Microcosm/Macrocosm world view which was popular in Europe at the 17th century and stated that whatsoever is in the universal world is also in man and made visible through Anatomy. Tsiaras creates, with body scanners and laser holograms, images of the human body which combine accurate description with artistic touch that anyone can identify with it.


Alexander Tsiaras  A fetus

Alexander Tsiaras A fetus





Dream Anatomy - U.S. National Library of Medicine




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