M O D I S et A M M I N I C U L U M

IN GENERAL: Modis et Amminiculum is a project on the relationship between form and function in design, language and nature.  "The connection between form and function has been an organising principle in the sciences, arts and humanities which has emerged with increasing force since the 18th century and appears to preoccupy what I am trying to develop in this chapter."

"The most important thing in comparative anatomy is the relationship between form and function. The broader application of which enables us to develop hypotheses tracing the evolution of organisms and organs and simultaneously allows us to see our selves in a broader biological context. Functional anatomy examines the performance of structures within organisms the performance of structures within organisms, such as cells, tissues, organs, organ systems and other complex functional units." Functional Anatomy of the Vertebrates- 3rd Edition; Liem, Bemis, Walker, Grande (Brooks/Cole 2001)

Lest not forget the property of nature ‘ordinary exhibits extraordinary behaviour’ (Davis, 2009, 24), which is best understood in biological terms in the opening paragraphs of Francis Crick’s Astonishing  Hypothesis (Crick, 1993, 3):

“ T h e   A s t o n i s h i n g   H y p o t h e s i s   i s
 t h a t   ‘ Y o u ’ ,   y o u r   j o y s   a n d   y o u r
s o r r o w s ,   y o u r   m e m o r i e s   a n d   y o u r
 a m b i t i o n s,
y o u r   s e n s e   o f   p e r s o n a l   i d e n t i t y   a n d
f r e e   w i l l   a r e   n o t h i n g   m o r e
 t h a n   a   v a s t   a s s e m b l y    of   n e r v e   c e l l  s
a n d   t h e i r   a s s o c i a t e d    m o l e c u l e s ”

Albeit that Crick had some ideas that were just wrong, this particular statement is quite true. Anatomy is incredible, even if it is meat. The fact that a meaty, fleshy substance gives rise to digestion, articulation and thought  IS astonishing. No magic, special ingredient needs to be added to the bio-mechanical marvels that we catergorise as living, just "ordinary matter exhibiting extraordinary behaviour". I think it worth mentioning that although James Watson and Francis Crick are credited for the discovery the structure of DNA British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Elsie Franklin, made invaluable contributions to the discovery. At the time, this went largely unnoticed. Probably because she was a woman.

Since January 2011, I have been drawing in Dissecting Room (DR) at St George's University (Hospital in Tooting...). The bodies I have drawn were donated for anatomical examination under the Human Tissue Act (2004) and consent for images to be taken was given. Such a rare opportunity, not only for myself but especially for medical students is a great privilege. The utmost care and respect is given at all times in the DR, and all who attend and teach at Saint Georges are sincerely grateful for the generosity of donors and their families.

 This experience, including what the students and faculty have taught me has encouraged me to take a closer look at anatomy and in brief- consider what concerns form and function.  with considering to what is lost and what is gained from different forms of representation: What anatomical commonalities are represented and HOW do schematised illustrations and/or abstract symbols correlate with descriptions of a physical principle. The logical properties of such representations reflect distinct relationships in anatomy, thusly accounting for discrepancies and succeeding in clearly describing nature. On the other hand it is also relevant to consider that the impression made on our senses when observing nature directly. There is a physical sense associated with this concept, reminiscent of Descartes. When one draws from you life, one draws 'how things are' (although via the subjectivity of penmanship).
These different forms of representation, vary in their verisimilitude but both succeed in describing aspects of anatomy. A lot can be gained from simple observation however Descartes error is clearly defined when we deduce that observation alone is not enough to guarantee understanding.....something along the lines of  DAVID HUME'S admission that inference does not lead infallibly to truth. One can not rely on re-occurrence of a particular process or structure in nature (take the rising of the sun for example) to guarantee that this event will keep happening forever (knowing involves definitions- 'what is happening? and how?'). We need to know what the pattern is and how it works if we want to make the kind of statement; 'the sun will rise every day until I die'. (This is only really true for a limited about of lifetimes anyway- so imagine just one lifetime for the example to be true so we can simplify the point).  Such a statement is only reliable if the process behind it is understood and the 'form' (i.e the theory- which in this example are the laws of planetary motion, the Newtonian approximation-special relativity and Einstein's theory of general relativity)  is repeatedly matched to observation (matched to a pattern- maths or an image).  Only then can you say- this effect 'the sun will rise every day until I die', can be shown to be a real thing- A correlation beween experience and concept.

Concerning Hume's admission "inference does not lead infallibly to truth", the publication containing the research of this endeavour considers a variety of illustrated facsimiles of works from the likes of Paul Churchland and Paul Feyerabend which highlight how the physical nature of the mind; sensory perception and 'psychological experiences' provide unreliable evidence. And although beliefs/culture and convincing sensory and emotional inputs may protest to this adversity; protest that 'this is what I feel', 'but, this is what I saw, I definitely saw this....'-  How do you KNOW? We might question adversely. How do you know what you saw? How do you know that what you saw was what you saw? Again, Betrand Russell ties this up nicely- "If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way".

A N Y W A Y- Here is some stuffs what I have made! (AND Here is a nice lecture: IS ANATOMY DESTINY? )

Im going to post up my reading list next time!

Embossing for the cover of the publication

Screen prints about the GallBladder. Linin, dyed linin, flock, mineral pigment and gloss medium

Some etching plates, the plates used to emboss the cover and the tops of some plates with ceramic prints.

Framed drawing from the DR

Since January 2011, I have been drawing in Dissecting Room at St George's University (Hospital in Tooting...). The bodies I have drawn were donated for anatomical examination under the Human Tissue Act (2004) and that consent for images to be taken was given. 

Crockery and ceramic transfer print. 


DJ Timecop | 24 June 2011 at 12:30

I'd just like to say, I've been following your blog for a while, and I think your drawings are absolutely amazing. I love your subject matter, but had no idea you'd been working with genuine bodies! SO interesting! I love those ceramic transfer plates too. wowzers. I wonder if your work is for sale anywhere?
keep up the awe-inspiring work.

Jennifer Crouch: | 29 June 2011 at 05:56

Hurrah! Thank you!

They are not currently available for sale anywhere, but soon enough they shall. You can purchase some of the ceramic transfer object through me (email jennifer.ap.crouch@gmail.com for details).

A limited edition of 70 of each print will be produced and transfered to the objects, they will however vary in their positioning as its all done by hand. And kiln....

Thank you very much for your encouraging words! Ill let you know about events and exhibitions coming up in the near future, Ill be giving a talk about the dissecting room in Brighton in early August. Ill post all that up on this blog!

Very best,

Jennifer Crouch: | 29 June 2011 at 05:58

Ahh yes, and there are other objects that I have made, Ill update all that soon enough. A mug, tray, other plates and bowls and chairs.

Have a look here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenism

Many thanks again!