Photography & Human Dissection

Me. Printed in Photo Life, September 1981
(photo by my Dad)

The more I look, the more insatiable my appetite becomes. I can easily lose track of time with my hands on or in a body. It’s so similar to being in a darkroom that in some ways I have been doing it forever.

In the darkroom, creative use of light is used to expose, manipulate, combine and edit the mood of an image. The negative is an objective template and the light that passes through it is subjective. It is the light that reveals the image, and the light that also has the capacity to hide or reveal finer detail. What I appreciate most about being in a darkroom is perhaps the illusion that I have some control over the image I wish to expose. Either it exists or it doesn’t, and I have been known to spend HOURS attempting to reconcile the image in my head with that on the page. I emerge from a darkroom marathon exhausted and exhilarated. Inspired and planning the next roll.

When I was young, my Dad, who was an X-ray technician by profession, had a passionate hobby in photography. He shot black and white film that he processed in a darkroom he built in our basement. Myself and my brothers were often his subjects, but I took a deeper interest, wanting to spend time with him in the cramped darkroom. I remember sitting on the couch with him, eyes closed, attempting to thread an old film onto a developing spool.
I would eventually inherit his cameras, darkroom equipment and passion for images. The combined work and luck it takes to bring an image from conception to print is simultaneously fraught with excitement and frustration. The entire process is not unlike being in the lab.

I love all photographs. I am interested in what the person holding the camera wants to reveal. I want to know the stories behind the light, the angle and composition. I love how photographs document the passage of time, and the mysteries they hold. I believe that a body also holds the documentation and mystery of time.

The dissection lab is not unlike the darkroom for me. I was good with a scalpel from day one. The precision required to uncover structure satisfied the photographer in me. To me, a scalpel is akin to the light in the darkroom. It’s the tool used to expose and bring to the surface, what lies beneath.

Massage Therapy & Burnout

The World Health Organization is including Burnout in the 11th Revision of The International Classification of Diseases.

It is described in the chapter: ‘Factors influencing health status or contact with health services’ – which includes reasons for which people contact health services but that are not classed as illnesses or health conditions.

Stress acts on the body by suppressing the immune system. During times of stress, the body’s natural response is to shut down all functions that are considered secondary to preserving life. This means that wound healing, tissue repair, digestion and metabolism, all take a back seat to the stress. Stress increases heart rate, blood pressure, and reduces our ability to cope.

Massage Therapy is one effective way to reset the system and begin the process of returning to balance. Massage can be used to increase circulation and assist in the management of stress.

Taking time out to be still, can go a long way in your road to health.

Relationships: Antagonist, synergist, agonist.

Jenga: one small shift can disarm an entire structure!

As a massage therapist and (ex)yoga instructor, I have studied muscle relationship more than anything else. When there is an irritable body structure, my job is to find the source. The point that is throwing everything off balance is not normally the area of pain. The “cure” is often to calm the antagonist and build up the weaker opposing structure.

Antagonist, synergist, agonist 🤔, in a three dimensional, emotional structure… Theses are not static labels or relationships. Balancing the roles and figuring out the equation is my happy place. I’ve never been bored in my attempts to disarm these duelers. In my practice, massage and yoga are besties!

What is Thai Massage? (VIDEO)

Thai Massage is a comprehensive, full body treatment that works on a physical, energetic and emotional level. Directing attention to the body’s energetic pathways through movement and mindful massage, blockages are free to release, restoring the flow of energy, and thus liberating your innate ability to heal.

Thai Massage allows you to connect on a level that goes beyond the skin. In this flowing movement practice, awareness is passed between giver and receiver, resulting in a therapeutic experience of full body relaxation. Thai bodywork incorporates movement and stretch which has the capacity to deliver greater pranic flow through the muscles and joints of the body, inspiring deeper, long lasting effects.

Thai Massage differs from other forms of massage in that it is done on the floor, fully clothed.

Thai is offered for 60 minutes, 75 or for the best full body experience 90 minutes is recommended.

The Sagittal Cut (part III) the diverse interests of somanauts

Something I really appreciate about being in the lab, is the freedom to explore. There is a systematic way that as a group, we go about our somatic exploration, but there is room to deepen any exploration you choose.
Generally, the first few days are quite structured and, once we reach the viscera, somanauts begin to veer off into areas of personal interest. This is where I learn the most.

Once in a #dissectionlab, I had a tablemate who wanted to cut everything in half to have a look inside. Our method generally, is to peel away the layers in the same way you would peel an onion but this guy wanted to cut right through. As a result, I saw some amazing things in that lab.

Our donor, “Art”, was a 98 year old gift of beauty. He came to us with a speedo suntan and an erection that would be the envy of many– the embalming process fills the body with fluid, giving the male donors something they can be proud to show off in the lab.
When we opened Art’s gallbladder, he revealed to us a large gallstone which our tablemate cut it in half. WOW! The stone when whole, was about the size and shape of large macadamia nut. It was black with a deep emerald green hue, which in and of itself was beautiful. What we found inside was astonishing. It was a clear crystal stone! We joked about how things might have gone down if he’d had it surgically removed and turned it into a piece of jewelry: “my, what a gorgeous stone!”… “Thank you. I made it myself. IN. MY. GALLBLADDER!”

Another time, someone in the lab was interested in bone. This person cleaned off all the bones and held together the joints while moving them in anatomical ways. I had never before seen such obvious rotations and glides that are somewhat unique to each body. For the anatomists out there, this is really something to see (think about the pivot of the radial head against the ulna).
Imagine having a dental assistant in the lab, pulling teeth. Artists sketching what they see. Curious minds shaving away the tissue of the lungs to reveal the tree like structures of the bronchioles. Dissecting the matrix that holds together your fat cells…

The body has so much to reveal, and the different views shown to us by differing fields of interest are so valuable. Which brings me to the WHY of The Sagittal Cut: Each time I have been in the lab we have looked at the brain in the same way. Basically, the skull cap is removed so that we can pull out the intact brain and have a look at the underside where the cranial nerves are (so cool). So a few years ago, I set out to do the familiar. Just before the first cranial cut, Gil suggested I do something different: cut sagittally. So I did, and although this gave a really cool view of the pineal and pituitary glands, the corpus callosum and cerebellum, this was all very foreign territory to me and overwhelm made me miss almost everything.

After returning home and going back to work, holding a head in my hands at the end of a treatment, I had so much regret over not exploring the sinuses, the nasal cavity and the muscles that move the jaw and the eyes.
The following year, I attended an unfixed lab (where the bodies are not embalmed). This was such a different look into the body, that all previous experience was set aside to take it all in. It would be another year before I got back to the head to explore all the things that continued to pique my curiosity.

Pictured here are green aventurine stones, not actual #gallstones but I wanted to you have a visual of the beauty.