Collecting New Media

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22 April

Oh yeah! Kool Aid Man in Second Life

In this week’s readings, Henry Lowood discusses events or history happening in virtual worlds. I wanted to highlight an example of an on-going event that might fit into this slippery catagory, “Kool-Aid Man in Second Life” by Jon Rafman.   This on-going performance encompasses tours of Second Life given by Rafman’s in-world avatar, Kool-Aid Man,  to any viewer who requests one by email.


Rafman, who also makes work using GoogleMaps, 3D Warehouse, and Cafe Press  produces really stunningly beautiful videos of Kool-Aid Man roaming the landscape of Second Life as ‘trailers’ for his tours. Here is one from 2009.

The promo videos of Kool-Aid Man feel like a film trailer. Kool-Aid Man travels through vibrant and alien worlds, finding for a short time the company of fellow travelers.  He dances atop Machu Piccu, goes to undersea and marvels at Sting Rays, he does Tai Chi with elves, sky dives, enters the spaces of more violent game play and makes horrified faces at the dead avatars, visits a stripclub and attends many, many dance parties.


From a preservation standpoint, what is to be preserved here? What is the ‘work’?  It could be argued that Rafman’s videos could be considered “Machinima” or in-world movies. The crux of this project, however, rests in the one-on-one experience of guide and novice moving through space together. Can that interaction really be preserved?

In this Kool-Aid Man Interview (which took place in Second Life), Rafman says he gets “inspiration from individuals who struggle to represent their experience of modernity.”  The artist goes on to state that “its not so much amateur technology that inspires me, but what amateurs are doing with this technology.”

It seems from this interview, that Rafman’s focus is the human element, not simply the landscape of Second Life.  Might it be possible to create video documentation or even replays of Kool-Aid Man’s experiences with his tourists? Sure.  But, like dance, perhaps this is a performance that is only intended to exist once. That each iteration is unique and ephemeral.

Throughout this week’s readings, I found myself thinking of the Borges story about the map the size of the world, On Exactitude in Science.  In the story, the first generation of an Empire was obsessed with cartography, so only a map the same size of the Empire would do. But the future generations realized this was useless and let the map fall prey to the elements.

Borges himself was a librarian.  Perhaps this story is a fable for librarians and archivists run riot.  Are we not responsible for creating a perfect map of these digital worlds, but a curated set of important records?  Is it possible to save too much. We cannot capture every event. Nor should we try.   Unless digital curation encompasses selectivity and preservation, we may create a map that is useless for the future.

borges by Arbus



15 April
Comments Off on post Post (articles on a new online archives/museum practice forum)

post Post (articles on a new online archives/museum practice forum)


Post is a new online initiative produced by the minds behind Triple Canopy ( a great digital art/culture magazine/research/website/non-profit thing) and the Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives in a Global Age (C-MAP) research group housed at MoMA. There is a lot of vaguery even in the description of the parties involved, but suffice to say post is a website. Post is an interesting website where individuals in the field of museums and archives present ideas.

I wanted to highlight two articles that touched upon the questions raised by the variable media readings this week–perhaps these could be seen as additional case studies.

In 2009 the MoMA acquired the Silverman collection–a very large, very comprehensive collection of  posters, newspapers, editions, films, and photographs, and who-knows-what-else dedicated to Fluxus art.  An international art movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Fluxus—whose name was based on the Latin word flux, meaning constant flow or change—brought together artists working in music, poetry, film, theater, and the visual arts. The movement challenged the commodification of art and favored nontraditional modes of expression, such as collective performances, inexpensive publications, and unlimited editions of small objects. (Yoko Ono was a Fluxus collaborator)

Upon arrival at the MoMA, the Silverman collection was processed and distributed to the various medium-specific departments of the Museum. The result is that much of the collection – including printed works on paper and photographic documentation of performances found its home in the museum archive, not the art collection.  In Watch Out! All Is Not What It Seems to Be curator Jon Hendricks writes about the challenges of this treatment.  Specifically he notes that works classified as “non-art” receive very different preservation and treatment. They also tend to be displayed in vitrines in the library–not in the gallery. This small change in presentation has a huge impact on the public impression of the meaning and importance of a particular work.  The presentation and preservation of variable artworks has the potential to ghettoize these new mediums unjustly. Hendricks says, ” Throwing things into preconceived categories obscures potential experience of art — understandings of art. “Archival” and “curatorial” might be better thought of as convenient holding bins — locations that can be fluid and shifting as we gain better understanding of artists’ intent, and as we disrobe accumulated prejudgment.”

Next, a post by Uesaki Sen, an archivist designing repositories for Japanese post-war art (which can be characterized as frequently employing non-traditional mediums and performance/time-based art) captures the desire of an archivist to present his collection outside of these representational categories. In a somewhat looping essay, Sen describes producing a large poster containing images and information about every work in the collection–an attempt to show how selections fail to represent a full weight of an archive.  “our interest focuses on the difference in the degree of fictitiousness between representation that emerges from a selected list and documentation that emerges from a comprehensive list.” He goes on to discuss the inclusion of a bean-sprout seed on an invitation, which reminds readers the need to never assume that materials are comprehensive

The Sogetsu Art Center and the Matter of Printed Matter: The Sugiura Kohei / Yoko Ono Bean Sprout Invitation

01 March
Comments Off on MOMA Exhibition: Applied Design

MOMA Exhibition: Applied Design

Beginning tomorrow the MOMA will offer an exhibit featuring works of applied design. The pieces on display combine beauty with utility in a way that makes them works of art. This semester I am in Digital Media Collections, and one of the questions we are continually asking in that class is, “is design art”? I think this question is also relevant to our discussion of new media in this class. Should we collect designs as art, or should we collect design at all? Below are a few examples from the exhibition.


This is the “Mine Kafon Wind Powered Deminer” by Massoud Hassani. The designer was born in Afghanistan where he was often exposed to dangerous mine fields. He later attended school in The Netherlands, where he got this idea. The ball rolls across a mine field, powered by wind, exploding mines in its way. Even though it has a practical purpose, it is also esthetically pleasing, so can it be practical and still be art?


This is called “The Honeycomb Vase” by Tomas Gabzdil Libertiny. He constructed beehive scaffolds in the shape of this vase and then simply let the bees do the work. This vase was worked on by about forty thousand bees.

The Collection also consists of several well known images from popular games including Pac Man and Tetris.

                                CRI_255743          CRI_255791

Are these video games art? and if so how can we properly collect them?

I think this exhibition raises some interesting questions about the boundaries of art and new media. If we are setting parameters for a collection of art, would these things make the cut? I think that they can and should. A lot goes into a design.  Pac Man and Tetris are examples of artistic design in the way that they grab the player. The designers have created something visual that stimulates interest, I think that is art.  The bee hive vase and deminer are both esthetically pleasing, but the designers are also using them to communicate with the audience. The beauty of the deminer seems odd when its purpose  is revealed.  This discomfort leads the audience to think about the issue of unexploded mine fields. The bee hive vase represents a stark contrast to the manufactured world we live in, where things are made cheap and fast. Both are practical, but also beautiful and carry a strong message from their creators. I think that is the very definition of art.

28 February
Comments Off on Digital Slide Library of America

Digital Slide Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America, an initiative launched out of the Berkman Center to unite the existing digital library hubs at existing institutional collections just announced a collaboration with ARTStor– the dominant digital art image library in the US.  Art scholarship, and the services that address the needs of art historians and art academics are generally niche products dominated by a few early entrants into the market. When instituions began to digitize their slide archives, ArtStor was formed as a nonprofit consortium to provide a shared online image library accessible to educational institutions. The idea was to avoid redundant scanning and cataloging of slides.


Of ARTstor’s existing 1.4 million slides, 10,000 high-quality images from six leading museums will be available via DPLA.  Here’s the catch.  ARTstor  presents their collections as expansive (and implicitly, exhaustive) but is actually strongly biased toward paining, sculpture, photography and architecture. The interface only displays static images, and primarily images from old slides so ARTstor focuses on works easily represented by a single, static image.

Every tool has limitations, and I understand if collecting examples of media work is outside of ARTstor’s mission.  I worry, however, that they have simply sidestepped an entire substantive chunk of 20th century art making simply out of fears of copyright or technical limitiations.  Moreover, because ARTstor presents itself as the canon,  I wonder if it is not further shortchanging students live off-axis to major art centers.

I wonder if ArtStor actually .  Back in the day, when slide libraries were the means by which students accessed art images, there was an implicit understanding that these were not really comprehensive. Plucky students knew that they had to travel to access larger, more comprehensive slide libraries or look to other sources if they wanted to see more contemporary work.  ARTstor partners with contemporary-focused institutions and living artists to digitize their collections.  There is the appearance that the service is up-to-date.

On the contrary, they pick and choose to represent their own strengths. For example, of the MoMA’s expansive collections, only two departments- “Painting and Sculpture” and “Architecture and Design” are included.  Forgotten are huge Departments of Film, Media, even Prints!  The exemption of huge swaths of the MoMA collection would be evident only to someone familiar with the museums organizational structure.  Not particularly likely for an undergrad–ARTstor’s primary user.

This bias is present in individual artist selections.  Elizabeth Peyton, a figurative painter working today was recently added.  Her long-time domestic partner, Rirkrit Tiravanija, arguably a much more important 20th century artist was not.  Ririkrit’s sculptural installations are activated by participation with the audience.  These works may not be as easily captured as Peyton’s paintings, but they do have extensive photo documentation.

The gap between what is being studied and exhibited and what Artstor presents is truly great. In fairness, ARTstor has just begun to collaborate with Rhizome to catalogue still images from their collection of new media art. Still, this is a tiny portion of a broader landscape of global media work.

I guess what I am getting at is that the Digital Public Library promotes itself as a champion for free and open access, we have to remember that any institution build on existing collections will possess the biases of that old collection. Moreover, digitization can actually slow or stop an existing workflow that enabled new media to enter circulation.




25 February
Comments Off on Alfred Junge Goes Digital, or Not

Alfred Junge Goes Digital, or Not


Several of the readings this week concerned the fate of traditional archival materials once they are committed to a digital medium, and how that affects the way they are experienced. The Greene reading also advocated for a definition of archives and archival material that is inclusive and fluid. While I understand his point that narrowing the definition of materials can lead to negative consequences for archives, I can’t help but sympathize with the other side to some degree. The more specific and narrow a definition can be, the more organized the items that fall into this definition will be. I recently had an experience working with items in an institution that seems to value quantity over quality.
The collection I was working with consisted of about one hundred scene conceptions drawn from about 1935-1960 by Alfred Junge. He won an academy award for his work, and there are drawings in the collection from movies he did with Alfred Hitchcock. My job was to digitize the scene conceptions and then create metadata records. The following is a list of issues I encountered that I feel are pretty standard when trying to make archival materials digital.

  • There was no standard metadata format so making the records was like shooting in the dark. This is a problem for patrons trying to use the collection. Halfway through the project the director decided to change the metadata standard, forcing me to redo all of the records, into a more stripped down version that gave very little information.
  • A server switch caused many of the new digital files in my project, as well as many others, to become corrupted. This proves the instability of digital records, a problem that should be addressed since many of the conceptions I was working with were in bad physical shape.
  • The institution had so many items they were not even sure what they had. When I began the project they projected it would take me two months. After working with the conceptions for a few days I realized this was going to take a lot longer than that. When I told them this they were surprised to learn there were over 100 conceptions, they had thought there were about 20.
  • Patrons who were able to find out about the drawings had no way to do good research. I was asked at one time to dig through the conceptions and then take a picture with my cell phone to send to a patron.

These issues were frustrating and concerning to me. The beauty of these works of art is hard to describe. They could be framed and displayed in an art museum, they are amazing. They tell the story of set design as it transitions from black and white to color. It is a shame that these important pieces are buried away in an out of control collection where they cannot be appreciated. Maybe even more frustrating is that fact that some of the most interesting conceptions are in bad physical shape, but backed up preservation queues means they will most likely deteriorate even more.

These scene conceptions have fallen victim to issues common to the digital transition, as well as an institution with a very broad definition of what archives should collect. They have taken in so many collections of materials that they do not even know what they have. This makes the digital transition even more difficult and hinders the availability of materials to patrons. I understand the argument that archives should be defined broadly, but in some cases a broad definition can lead to unorganized archives.

18 February
Comments Off on Curating objects as instruments

Curating objects as instruments



I want to take Usai’s Charter of Curatorial Values as a jumping off point to introduce a few other models / conversations around curatorship in visual art and popular culture.   The word  curator has steeped, perhaps a bit to deeply into our everyday life.  “Curate your Facebook profile like you curate your life,” a recent NY Times article suggests.  In keeping with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s notion that objects solidify and project the power of a fragile and variable individual self — popular media has been inundated with the notion of a ‘well-curated’ life.  Popular ‘curators’ in fields from music to art, fashion to beauty present themselves as emulatedable object selectors, taste-makers for an overabundant world.  To mind come names like Taavo Somer, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, and Danielle Rubi-Dentzel. Often the selections are heightened by a rarified or hand-made quality and the curation extends into the most banal arenas of life, invisible to outsiders – toothpaste and soap come to mind.

Tavi Gevinson, teen blogger of Style Rookie and now online Rookie Magazine was catapulted to fame  not simply for her artful writing on fashion, but for her own depictions of herself in stylish outfits and her presentations of collections of artifacts (both physical and digital) that depict an idealized adolescent bedroom.   Style Rookie elevated the teen bedroom to a curated space.  I argue that this represents a move away from traditional fashion media as well as from the creative production of teens because the thrust of the bloggers activity is to project an image of self, rather than to produce art or comment on fashion.

Csikszentmihalyi argues that the way to get beyond materialism is to use objects “as instruments rather than projections of our selves.” Might it be possible to make the argument that a ‘curator’ used in the broad pop-media context, might be using objects/artifacts as instruments? Does this appellation extend to both curators in institutions and lifestyle curators on blogs?

Curatorial work in the visual arts has exploded with the exponential growth of the contemporary art market since the late 1990s.  In this context, the figure of the curator-as-artist has been debated widely. Usai seems to land on the side of the curator as artist – as capable of creating new works. “New works may be created through the use of one or more existing items in the collections (something whichshould always be encouraged by curators who believe in the archive or museum as a catalyst of invention).”

I am more inclined to agree with the depiction of the curator as a cultural producer–this incompasses a wide-swath of curatorial duties. Both the traditional duties of an arbitor looking down from the ivory tower determining merit, but also allows for the essential role of uniting a creative team and guiding ideas to fruition.  Nato Thompson and Michelle White address this perspective remarkably well in an interview for artlies. Nato and White discuss the possibilities of curatorial work to upset and engage with the matricies of social, cultural, and monetary capital through collective curatorial work.  In effect, to answer my own question, I believe they would be inclined to agree with Csikszentmihalyi that objects are best used as instruments not projections of self, but that collecting and arranging objects – or experiences of artifacts – can be a great disruptor of materialist power.

I want to end by citing the intro to their interview…

In 1934, during Hitler’s ascendance to power, Walter Benjamin gave a lecture called “The Author as Producer,” at the Institute for the Study of Fascism in Paris. With urgency, Benjamin questioned the role of the author and the artist. He felt that it was their job to not just respond to what was going on from a removed observational vantage point but, as a “producer,” to engage and actively change the course of social politics. Part of being a producer is letting go of individual conceit. Revolutionary power is the autonomy of the collective idea—not the autonomy of an individual.




17 February
Comments Off on I went to D.C. and played Pac-Man

I went to D.C. and played Pac-Man

I was particularly happy to see that Paolo Cherchi Usai used the game Pac-Man as an example of a well-loved game that is difficult to emulate in his article, “A Charter of Curatorial Values,” published in Journal of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia, Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 2006. This past May I traveled back to Virginia to attend a friend’s wedding. While I was in the neighborhood, I managed to sneak in a day trip to Washington D.C. and visit the The Art of Video Games: from Pac-Man to Mass Effect, an exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. You can watch an interview with the curator and a trailer for the exhibit here. The exhibit followed a roughly chronological path – beginning with a showcase of games and game consoles from the 1970s and 80s, before moving into a large, dark space where several screens were set up, and visitors could play a different game at each screen.


Here I am playing Pac-Man. 

I miss Pac-Man. When I was growing up a neighbor of ours had a two-player Pac-Man table.



It looked like this.

I loved it. My sister loved it. My mom loved it more than any of us, and she was better at it too. She could beat the pants off of anyone. Her high scores were sacrosanct. She said she used to play for hours in the basement of her dorm building in college, waiting for her laundry to be dry. Then, she stopped doing laundry at all, so she would have more quarters to feed Pac-Man. As I stood in the darkened gallery of the Smithsonian, playing one of the most beloved games of my youth and my mother’s collegiate years, I was incredibly grateful to have played Pac-Man on the big, brown, clunky table (which I think was a Special Anniversary release?). Playing at the Smithsonian was fun. I definitely got that apprehensive sensation you get when there are a big line of kids behind you eagerly waiting for you to die so that they can get their turn. And, it was very, very cool to see a dad show his how to play. But, the controls had a very different hand feel from the original, the screen was enormous, and I was in the Smithsonian, which felt surreal, and weird, and also awesome.

Overall I think it was a success. The exhibit was small. I am sure that more could have been done with greater funding, support, etc as is always the case. I found it especially interesting that many of the older consoles that were on display (like the Commodore 64) were on loan from private individuals, did not belong to the Smithsonian, and were not being donated to the Smithsonian. Game collectors wanted their stuff back, and our national museum had to beg, borrow, and plead to use the items for the show. They had not started collecting when the getting was good, maybe now they will.

You can read more about the show in this volume.


13 February
Comments Off on Buying with #Hashtags

Buying with #Hashtags

During our discussion yesterday, when Megan said that she thinks we won’t have USB ports in 5 years . . . I had a bit of a panic attack.  I told the people in my group about it, so we could have a little laugh and to show how my life experiences have made it more difficult for me to fit into the ischool community, and how I often feel like an “other” when it comes to talk of technology.  My immediate thought was  . . . . where will I put all of my photos? My downloaded financial papers?   I’m 3/4 of the way to being an “old” myself, so the thought of my financial information aggregated out on a service like dropbox and on someone else’s server  freaked me out.  After a moment I calmed down, sure that there will be other options that I will be comfortable with.

Funny thing is . . . I had another panic moment this morning when I was listening to the news . I happened to hear the end of a segment about American Express’ new purchasing with #hashtags program.  I only heard part of the commercial.  Amex Sync On Twitter – American Express – YouTube  I had heard about the Amex Synch program before, but the ability to make purchases on Twitter was news to me.  The panic stemmed from thoughts about how this can possibly be safe.  I was thinking . . . haven’t they seen the Farmer’s Insurance commercial where J.K. Simmons has all those dogs hanging off of him and he says that it is dangerous to leave boxes on your curb for trash pickup because it tells the thieves what you have that they can steal? Farmers Insurance “Dog Bites” | Great-Ads. Doesn’t publicly tweeting your purchases say: I’m a techy . . . I buy lots of gadgets . . . come break into my home?

I still haven’t gotten past the danger of letting everyone on twitter know when you buy things (the purchase tweets are public), but after looking into it some more I do feel a little better. Twitter and Amex to let you pay with a hashtag – They don’t release any of your private/card information (which seems as safe as any other online purchase) and they require a confirmation tweet within 15 minutes of their reply to ensure that it wasn’t an accidental tweet.  Benefits include free 2 day shipping and supposedly the offers will all be great “deals”.

So this brings me to the conversation we had yesterday about the Library of Congress Twitter collection and how it should be curated and made accessible.  A program like this can turn a seemingly unimportant twitter feed like mine into an important marketing tool.  My purchasing habits on twitter can suddenly make every other tweet I’ve made (and anything those tweets might say about me) important to that corporation who wants to market their product to people in my precise demographic.   Just yesterday we said that we cannot tell today what private information on twitter might be important tomorrow . . . and this is a perfect example.

How will these companies possibly aggregate and analyze all of the information that they would get from the oodles tweets of people who will probably use this service?  I have no idea . . . but I guarantee you that there are companies out there right now who are talking about solutions to that problem.  If activity like this occurs more and more on Twitter (which I think is inevitable given that previously Twitter’s only means of income has been advertisements) I think we can expect to see large companies attempting to make deals with the Library of Congress, to get useful access to their twitter collection.

03 February
Comments Off on Conceptions of Gender in Pop Culture Collecting

Conceptions of Gender in Pop Culture Collecting


kim kardashian

This week’s readings, particularly the one concerning the Hottentot Venus, made me think about collections that portray conceptions of gender. The historical record has always had a strained relationship with gender. History was largely written by white males, and the white male perspective became dominant. This is not a problem that has an easy or obvious solution. I remember as an undergraduate history major, in a class about the Aztecs, asking the professor where all the Aztec women were? (after hearing very little about them in the first few weeks of class) He stammered quite a bit and spit out a few sentences about agriculture and child rearing before returning to the stories of war and kings presided over by the men. As professionals who will one day oversee the collecting of history and culture for the future, how can we make sure gender is not unfairly represented?

One example that came to mind is Pinterest. Last week in class my group had a conversation about what Pinterest might have to say about gender, and particularly traditional femininity. It seems to be dominated by recipes, sewing tips, hair and beauty pointers, and wedding advice. If a viewer of the future only had Pinterest to look to for information about today’s women a picture of traditional feminine values would be painted.

Similarly our discussion the first week of class about collecting the Kardashians has similar ethical issues. Numerous news  stories have been written about Kim Kardashian’s body. Even more has been written about pregnancy and infertility rumors. If a collection representing the Kardashians featured all of these things, what does it say about gender in our society, and is it the whole truth?

In collecting either Pinterest or the Kardashians I think it is important to collect reactions to the way they represent gender. Even though feminist blogs criticizing the sexualization of the Kardashians may not traditionally be part of that collection, they would give future generations better information about how the issue of gender currently interacts with pop culture. Instead of presenting a single side of the Pinterest or Kardashian phenomenon this kind of collection would ensure more than one perspective is evident. If these kind of objections are not included we run the risk of future college students asking, “where were the feminists when Kim Kardashians ass was considered a top news story?”



28 January
Comments Off on The Human Remains Ethics Question – Cadaver Exhibits

The Human Remains Ethics Question – Cadaver Exhibits


After reading the King Tut posting below I got to thinking more about the ethics of displaying human remains.   As said in the King Tut posting, we do tend to “feel better” about displaying the remains of those people who died long ago.  However, in recent years we have shown as a society that we are willing to display relatively new cadavers as well.  One of these was “Bodies: The Exhibit”. Although I am intrigued, and can see the educational benefits of the exhibit, I still haven’t been to see it, although it was in Dallas for a while when I was living there. (Another is “Body Worlds” )

If you are not familiar with “Bodies: The Exhibit”, it is an exhibit of real human bodies that have been preserved so that they can be viewed.  Sometimes the body is whole (but without the skin), and other times body parts, organs, etc. are separated out for viewing.  According to the website FAQ, “[t]he full body specimens are persons who lived in China and died from natural causes. After the bodies were unclaimed at death, pursuant to Chinese law, they were ultimately delivered to a medical school for education and research. Where known, information about the identities, medical histories and causes of death is kept strictly confidential.”   It does not state where the separated body parts came from.  It is stressed throughout the website that this exhibit is meant to educate.  The exhibit gives information not only on how the body works, but on how living life in an unhealthy way impacts the body.  For instance, they include lungs that belonged to a person who smoked, so that the damage to the tissue can be witnessed.  The website also stresses the fact that they are open for class field trips, etc. and they encourage schools and parents to bring children to the exhibit so they can learn about the human body and healthy living.

I can see how viewing this exhibit, or something like it, could be invaluable to a person’s education.  In fact, medical schools have been doing just this for ages.  Every medical school requires students to dissect a human body.  But does this justify a very public exhibit like “Bodies”?  Is there something different about putting these preserved bodies on display and allowing the general public to walk by and “gawk” at them?

I think my inability to view the exhibit myself (despite my curiosity) makes it obvious where I fall on the spectrum.  It is just a little too uncomfortable for me (and not because a body without skin makes me queasy . . . I have witnessed a number of surgeries).  Why, then are they so popular?  This article on NPR’s website discusses some of the moral issues that people are having with these cadaver exhibits.

Of course there are differences between these exhibits and King Tut.  There is no historical narrative attached to these exhibits, instead they are said to be shown for scientific and educational purposes.  The “showman” aspects that were mentioned in the NPR article are probably a big part of why many people have trouble with the exhibits, as they are used to increase profitability.  I have more trouble with the “Bodies: The Exhibition” exhibit than I do “Body Works”, and that is simply because of the way that they have gone about collecting their cadavers.  Body Works accepts body donations, and it is easier for me to accept the exhibit since the cadavers included were donated knowingly.  Although “Bodies: The Exhibition” has collected their cadavers legally, I have a harder time accepting that the people whose bodies were not claimed after death are being used in a profit-making venture without their knowledge or consent.

In the end, many more questions crop up . . . is this more about ownership? What is ownership after death? Is the human body too “sacred” for public display, even if the exhibit claims to be aimed at education? Should these displays be required to tone down the showman qualities as a show of respect? Why are these exhibits so popular?