Fluxus Heidelberg Center BLOG


This FHC BLOG will contain an overview of all news we find and get in connection to Fluxus. Articles, publications, events, celebrations, Biographies, you name it. Every month the collection of the blog will be published on the FHC website as a digital archive

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fritz Kahn - Man Machine / Maschine Maschine

Die erste Monografie über Fritz Kahn: Von Uta von Debschitz und Thilo von Debschitz

Dieses weltweit erste Buch über Fritz Kahn wurde als hochwertiger Bildband konzipiert, da Fritz Kahn in Bildern dachte, sprach und schrieb. Für die Buchillustrationen ließ er seine Bildideen von professionellen Zeichnern in den unterschiedlichsten Stilen der frühen Moderne umsetzen.
Eine Auswahl dieser Illustrationen, vor allem die Analogien sowie grafisch oder inhaltlich besonders interessante Arbeiten, stehen im Mittelpunkt von „Fritz Kahn – Man Machine / Maschine Mensch“ (Beispielseiten hier).
260 Bilder auf 208 Seiten, darunter auch zahlreiche bisher unveröffentlichte Original-Illustrationen, Fotos und Dokumente ermöglichen dem Leser, sich selbst ein Bild von Fritz Kahn zu machen.
Einführende Texte – ein Zeitungs­artikel von Fritz Kahn, ein Portrait und Kapiteltexte der Autoren, ein kultur­wissenschaftlicher Essay von Prof. Cornelius Borck und eine Chronologie von Miriam Eilers – sowie Original-Bildunterschriften in deutscher und englischer Sprache geben erste Einblicke in sein vielschichtiges Leben und Werk.
Als Sonderbeilage enthält jede Monografie ein großformatiges Poster mit Kahns berühmtem Motiv „Der Mensch als Industriepalast“ (Reproduktion der Posterbeilage aus „Das Leben des Menschen“, 1926). Wer seine Buchbestellung über diese Website vornimmt, erhält zusätzlich ein Postkartenset mit acht ausgewählten Fritz-Kahn-Motiven als persönliches Dankschön von den Autoren – solange der Vorrat reicht. Das Postkartenset und das (ungefaltete) Poster können unabhängig vom Buch auch gesondert bestellt werden; diese Artikel sind bei keinem anderen Anbieter erhältlich.

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Man as Industrial Palace: the impact of Fritz Kahn

A German, Jewish gynecologist, artist, and popular science writer extraordinaire, Fritz Kahn (1888-1968) is considered by many to be the founder of conceptual medical illustration.

Kahn produced a series of books during the 1920s on the inner workings of the human body using metaphors of modern industrial life. His modernist visualization was fitting since he was writing during a time of great industrial and technological change, especially in Germany.

Medical illustration before this period was very literal in its representation. Medical illustrations were used mostly in medical education and so the body was portrayed as accurately as possible mainly from cadaver dissections.

Max Brodel had already established the first medical illustration graduate program in the United States in 1911 at Johns Hopkins. Tom Jones, a student of Brodel, established his own program at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1921. Frank Netter was a young man in his mid-20s, soon to become one of the most recognized medical illustrators in the world. These men set the standards in medical illustration with their extraordinarily detailed styles.

In the early 20th century, public health was becoming an increasing concern with diseases such as diabetes, tuberculosis, and venereal disease becoming more common. It was obvious that initiative be taken to teach the public about their body and their health. Public health posters were produced to make people aware of the dangers of these diseases and ways to avoid contracting them.

While medical illustration was slowly spreading across America, Fritz Kahn was gaining great popularity in Germany with his successful 5 volume textbook on anatomy and physiology entitled Das Leben des Menschen; eine volkstümliche Anatomie, Biologie, Physiologie und Entwick-lungs-geschichte des Menschen (1926). [translation: The life of humans; a popular anatomy, biology, a physiology and a history of the development of humans]

The 5 volume set had over 1500 images including a poster of his famous illustration, Man as Industrial Palace.

Fritz Kahn had his own mission to educate the public on the human body, something he took very seriously. The success of his textbooks at the time was a combination of a lucid style of writing accompanied by captivating visuals portraying the body as a machine complete with

factory workers
assembly lines
pressure valves
In his piece entitled Man as Industrial Palace (above), you can clearly see the hierarchy of departments within the body factory, with the center of operation located at the top of the head.

By illustrating the body as a factory, Kahn was able to relate the body’s complex organic interior to the industrialized space so common in society during that period. Kahn was part of a “visual education” movement that came with developments in color photography, motion pictures, animation, and artful printed graphics used as a revolutionary way of instructing. It was a movement to help popularize science and medicine. Kahn used all of these mediums in his work to show how the body functions.

Kahn’s illustrative style was heavily influenced by the modern artistic movement, which flowered in the early 20th century. Such styles include Cubism, Expressionism, Surrealism, and Futurism.

Kahn spoke the public’s language both rhetorically and visually, which made him successful at what he did. He had a huge impact on medical illustration for the public and on illustrations of the body in commercial graphics.

His overly conceptual style did have its shortcomings of course. Oversimplifying the complex structure of the human body into the cold lifeless structure of a machine may have had little educational value in the end. But if his goal was to educate the public of the basics of human function, then a mechanical metaphor would suffice. Like machines, we need fuel, need to regulate temperature and pressure, and above all need to be maintained to function optimally. Even today we are hard pressed to escape the model of the body as machine. We still often refer to the heart as a pump, joints as hinges, and the brain as a circuit board.

As our ability to produce hyper-realistic illustrations and animations of the anatomy and physiology of the human body increases, there is still a need to go back to the oversimplified basics,
the ball and stick figures of molecules.
the lock and key models of enzymes and proteins.
the lever and hinge models of muscles and joints
Simplicity is the current buzzword in the design community. I think it was John Maeda that said “simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.” Applying meaning to the simple, like Kahn did, paves the way for more complex understanding.
The trend in medical illustration and animation today is to produce the most realistic representations possible. And we’ve succeeded in creating some groundbreaking visual effects of the human body.

But, I think we as medical illustrators and animators need to step back and find new ways to reinvent the simple; to truly make an impact on education. It’s easier said than done, however. Simple is often the most complex thing to achieve.
- by Vanessa Ruiz
Sources and further reading

National Library of Medicine Dreaming the Industrial Body
British Library Fritz Kahn’s Body Machines
Mind and Brain in Weimar Culture pdf
Take a look at what Harvard is doing to simplify understanding of human physiology as an example.

Man as Industrial Palace

Vintage German artwork on digital steroids, or why you house a factory.
In 1926, German writer and artist Fritz Kahn created his famous Der Mensch als Industriepalast (Man as Industrial Palace) poster. Kahn’s illustrations compartmentalized the body’s functions in great detail, brilliantly depicting human physiology through analogies with an industrial factory.His work was a visual commentary on industrial modernity and an intersection of two timeless fascinations — with machines and with the human body.
In 2006, German visual communication and animation student Henning Lederer discovered Kahn’s poster and decided to resurrect this complex and unusual way of explaining the body, growing on the original work and translating it into motion graphics. He made himself a cabinet with a mix of analog and digital objects and technologies, and set to creating Industriepalast — an interactive application based on the poster.
In 2006, German visual communication and animation student Henning Lederer discovered Kahn’s poster and decided to resurrect this complex and unusual way of explaining the body, growing on the original work and translating it into motion graphics. He made himself a cabinet with a mix of analog and digital objects and technologies, and set to creating Industriepalast — an interactive application based on the poster.
Lederer explores human physiology in six cycles — five representing the five main biological systems, and one melding them together into the complex human factory Kahn had envisioned.- By Maria Popova

Man as Industrial Palace

Sunday, December 13, 2009

War is Over


Join in in this project of Yoko Ono to celebrate 40 years!

Historial facts (interview with John & Yoko 40 years ago):

“Henry Ford knew how to sell cars by advertising. I’m selling PEACE. And Yoko and I are just one big advertising campaign. It may make people laugh, but it may make them think, too. Really, we’re Mr and Mrs Peace”
John Lennon

The WAR IS OVER! campaign was originally launched by John and Yoko on 15th December, 1969. Billboards with the inscription “WAR IS OVER! (IF YOU WANT IT) Happy Christmas from John and Yoko” were placed in 11 cities worldwide: New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Along with these billboards leaflets were distributed, posters plastered up, newspaper advertisements placed and radio announcements made.

When John was asked how much the billboards cost, he replied “I don’t know- but it is cheaper than someone’s life.”

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