Learning human anatomy is a longstanding tradition of medical education. As our eyes are slowly melted away by the copious amounts of fixatives fuming from our cadavers, we strive to learn and understand the intricate construction of the human body.
Corpus Delicti: Just Desserts is a play that explores the ethical dilemmas surrounding the beginnings of anatomical research, and also features a life-size ballistic gelatin cadaver filled with vegetables! If only Grandma’s jello molds had been so educational. Here’s a brief description from the play’s website:
In this original production of visual theater, Local Infinities invites the audience to witness the dissection of a life-sized cadaver, cast in gelatin.
Corpus Delicti begins as an investigation of the art and science of anatomy, as practiced in Holland during the Age of Enlightenment, and immortalized in Rembrandt’s 1632 painting “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp.”
…It takes about twenty hours, pouring gelatin into a life-sized mold, to make our cadaver for the show. Our corpse is made out of ballistic gelatin, which has longer protein strands and is sturdier than the gelatin you buy to eat in the grocery store. Ballistic gelatin is used by the FBI to simulate human flesh in ballistics testing and forensic pathology.
The cadaver’s organs are made from fruits and vegetables: a cauliflower brain, a pomegranate heart, bones made from gnarled parsnips. We chose to work with organic materials because it simulates the decay of the body over its natural lifecycle.
Although we sometimes have to replace body parts, we go through about one body per weekend of performances.
The play will be showing at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center on October 28th-31st.
Also, Wikipedia has the recipe for ballistic gelatin, if you’re hungry for some Halloween ideas…