Translating Vitalities Lab 3: Throughness (2018) included one dissection.
David Luesink’s research has been about the history of anatomy in China—about how a 1913 law allowing the medical profession legal, regular access to corpses can be seen as at the center of a transformation of governmental power. It began with medical students dissecting cadavers and leaving traces in the form of poems and other published memoirs of their encounters in the anatomy laboratory. David translated these poems and presented them to a group of TV colleagues during the 2018 lab. According to David, the most profound feedback he received was to be asked to be dissected by an artist. Clare Twomey asked him to lie down in corpse pose and took a few high-resolution photographs of him, which she then blew up and printed out in sections, creating a corpse she could manipulate. Twomey fed a few verses from David’s English poems into Google Translate to render them in Chinese, then retranslated them again into English, and included traces mixed in with the pieces of the corpse, and finally hung each of about twenty or more pieces of paper by lengths of string by the window so the daylight could emphasize various aspects of the installation, evoking her current work with light and lithophane technology. Above, you’ll find a photograph documenting the installation.
To further dissect the work, you’re invited to explore:
- David’s English translation of the 1937 Chinese poem “Dissecting a corpse”
- An article published in the Journal of Asian Studies that uses excerpts from his translations of the Chinese poems discussed above
- The original photograph of the corpse (1934) that David was working with: