The Anatomy of Artificial Life: An Eighteenth-Century Perspective

Joan B. Landes

in Genesis Redux

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780226720807
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226720838 | DOI:
The Anatomy of Artificial Life: An Eighteenth-Century Perspective

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This chapter reviews the equation between creatures and machinery in reverse to arrive at a resulting “anatomical view of the machine.” Its subject is eighteenth-century anatomical wax models and écorchés, models made from preserved cadavers, which is considered alongside automata in “The Anatomy of Artificial Life.” Écorchés figures were typically beautifully proportioned and usually shown in action, one leg before the other, one arm raised over the head. Jacques Vaucanson's mechanical experiments borrowed directly from the materials, methods, and display techniques of the plastic and anatomical arts. Man with a Mandible provides a solution to the problem within vitalist philosophy of how to represent the dead body. The pastoral theme of the early modern Garden of Automata deserves exploration in its own right.

Keywords: creatures; machinery; écorchés; anatomical wax models; Garden of Automata; Jacques Vaucanson; Man with Mandible

Chapter.  7961 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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