For thousands of years, human beings have used metaphors as ways of understanding the body. We talk about our ‘ear drums’, or our ‘mind’s eye’. When we are in love we say our hearts are ‘bursting’ or ‘broken’. When we are nervous we say we have ‘butterflies in our stomach’. When we are impatient we have ‘itchy feet’. These familiar images help to explain the unfamiliar and to comprehend the complexity of our bodies.
The visual crossover between industrialization and science in Fritz Kahn’s artwork demonstrates surprisingly accurately how human nature became culturally encoded by placing the knowledge in an industrial modernity of machine analogues. He produced lots of illustrations that drew a direct functional analogy between human physiology and the operation of contemporary technologies. Therefore, 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 of time (the poster was created in 1926).
From the moment that Henning Lederer got to know Kahn’s poster “Man as Industrial Palace” in 2006, he had the idea to animate this complex and strange way of explaining the functions of a body. He wanted to continue Fritz Kahn’s act of replacing a biological with a technological structure by transferring this depiction with the help of motion graphics and animation. In addition to the moving images, as a framework, Henning created a cabinet for his work including a mixture of old and new technology. This new version of the “Industrial Palace“ is an interactive installation for the audience to interact with – and by this to explore the different cycles of this human machinery.
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Here is an animated video created by Henning Lederer based on the poster by Fritz Kahn: Der Mensch als Industriepalast (Man as Industrial Palace) from 1926.