bioephemera

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Animated Anatomies, a new show at the Perkins Library at Duke University, explores the tradition of fold-out or pop-up paper anatomical diagrams:

Animated Anatomies explores the visually stunning and technically complex genre of printed texts and illustrations known as anatomical flap books. These publications invite the viewer to participate in virtual autopsies, through the process of unfolding their movable leaves, simulating the act of human dissection. This exhibit traces the flap book genre beginning with early examples from the sixteenth century, to the colorful “golden age” of complex flaps of the nineteenth century, and finally to the common children’s pop-up anatomy books of today.

I have a mid-century anatomy pamphlet by Hammond that is a very basic latter-day interpretation of these “flap books”:

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Flip books can be especially effective for visual learners, and anatomy is a highly visual subject. However, something is lost when the pages aren’t transparent; it’s hard to envision how the systems interweave when you have to flip back and forth constantly. (It also invites the obvious question – why isn’t there a good anatomical iPad app that melds the vintage page-based flip book experience with fading in and out – the way Google’s Body Browser does?) Anyway, this video clip shows the very non-high-tech flip books in action. My favorite is the disembodied foldout eye book seen at the end:

Via Laughing Squid (thanks to a heads up from Jennifer Ouellette).