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Biomedicine in museums

The sounds of bio-decay

I’m afraid I have a secret crush on decay — not only decay of physical things, like MR scanners (see this earlier post on “Objects of decay”), but also decaying living things.

Like most others I register bio-decay by the visual and olfactory senses. I still vividly remember the movie A Zed & Two Nougths (1985) in which Peter Greenaway tickled my visceral reactions by visually displaying the decay of animal bodies; in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) he played with our disgust of the smell of rotting flesh.

So the decay of biological bodies is a potential sublime feast for the eye, and also titillates the fantasies of the nose-brain. However, I’ve never thought about the sounds of biological decay. But so have artists Cata Hope and Rob Muir at SymbioticA, University of Western Australia, who are engaged in a project to record the sounds of decaying organisms. Read a little more here

(thanks to Jens Hauser, Paris, for the tip).

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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