Meet Graham. His cranium: thick, with a forehead that juts out. His neck: barely there… is it there?– his robust head rests directly on the chest. And as for his torso: a seemingly endless protuberance of ribs insulated with airbag-esque flaps of flesh.
Graham’s misshapen, jarring body is an artistic rendering of what the human body could look like if humans had bodies equipped to survive car crashes. Graham is an interactive sculpture, and his anatomical absurdity serves to educate people about the dangers of roadside accidents. So many of us depend on autos in our daily lives and it’s easy to forget how vulnerable our bodies are to collisions.
We get to “Meet” Graham thanks to the Traffic Accident Commission (TAC), a governmental agency in the Australian state Victoria. The TAC collaborated with trauma surgeon Christian Kenfield, crash investigator David Logan, and sculptor Patricia Piccinini to create this anatomically augmented man.
“Cars have evolved a lot faster than humans and Graham helps us understand why we need to improve every aspect of our roads system to protect ourselves from our own mistakes,” TAC chief executive officer Joe Calafiore said.
To bring the human form up to speed with the scope of auto accidents, the team gave Graham several enhancements, including the enlarged, flattened head to lessen brain injury and the fleshy rib cage, also designed to absorb impact.
Meet Graham’s website asks: “As much as we like to think we’re invincible, we’re not. But what if we were to change? What if our bodies were built to survive a low impact crash? What might we look like?”
But evolution isn’t really the point. Graham serves as an embodiment of, or perhaps a reaction to, human beings’ precarious relationship to technology. Innovations have enabled us to enhance and exceed our biological capabilities. Cars allow us to travel farther and faster, for example. Ironically, though creations like cars allow us to do more with our bodies, they also leave us vulnerable to the physics required to make them run. In a twist, that which moves us can also undo us. Our demise, embedded in our progress.
Motorcyclists are even more vulnerable to injury from accidents than car drivers. Imagine what a biker Graham would look like… he would probably have an even thicker skull, a more padded torso, and highly flexible joints.
Though Graham is a sculpture, people can interact with him online at Meet Graham.
Graham’s striking appearance has garnered him significant online attention. Though created to draw attention to the seriousness of auto accidents on human bodies, he has also been the subject of some cyber humor. We’ll leave you with this: Ryan Gosling’s character in the 2011 film Drive.
Jokes aside though, let Graham be a reminder of human hubris in the face of technological developments. Our bodies pale in comparison to the steel inventions we depend upon. Graham’s creators do not condemn technological advances, however. Instead, they advocate further developments to mitigate danger and damage. As Mr. Calafiore put it, “We have to accept people will always make mistakes, but modern vehicle safety technology and safe road design can drastically reduce the forces involved when a crash happens, making them more survivable.”