Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This Friday at Observatory! "The Anatomical Unconscious: X-Ray Specs, Visible Women, and the Eros of the Unseen," With Cult Author Mark Dery

Friend of Morbid Anatomy, frequent Boing Boing contributer, innovative cultural theorist and all around bon vivant Mark Dery will be giving an illustrated lecture this Friday night, June 18th, at Observatory. Come witness the linguistic pyrotechnics as Dery traces the connections betweeb wax anatomical models, pornographic x-ray fantasies of the 1950s, and x-ray fears of the post-terrorist society in his inimitable fashion. People: I have seen this man speak and it is, I promise, not to be missed!

Full info follows; hope very much to see you there!
The Anatomical Unconscious: X-Ray Specs, Visible Women, and the Eros of the Unseen
An illustrated lecture with cult author and cultural critic Mark Dery
Date: Friday, June 18th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $7
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

What do 18th-century wax “anatomical Venuses” doing a striptease in which they expose their internal organs; cutaway views of the imaginary anatomy of Loony Tunes characters; the X-Ray Specs and Visible Woman toys familiar to boomers; and artist Wim Delvoye’s X-rated X-rays of people performing sex acts have in common?

Mark Dery makes these and other provocative connections in his lecture “The Anatomical Unconscious: X-Ray Specs, Visible Women, and the Eros of the Unseen,” a cultural critique of the eroticizing of the scientific gaze. In his hour-long lecture/slideshow, Dery will touch on the pornographic fantasies that swirled around the X-ray from its inception; adolescent dreams, fueled by comic-book ads for X-Ray Specs, of the potential uses for Superman’s X-ray vision; current fears of the potential for abusive use of airport scanners that penetrate clothing; and the artist Wim Delvoye’s series of pornographic X-rays. He’ll theorize the eros of the X-ray, with digressions into the weird cartoon subgenre of imaginary anatomies (of everything from Star Wars At-Ats to Loony Tunes characters) and premonitions of X-rated X-rays inherent in the baroque medical mannequins on display at the Museum La Specola in Florence, Italy.

Mark Dery ( is a cultural critic. He is best known for his writings on the politics of popular culture in books such as The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink and Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century. Dery is widely associated with the concept of “culture jamming,” the guerrilla media criticism movement he popularized through his 1993 essay “Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of the Signs,” and “Afrofuturism,” a term he coined and theorized in his 1994 essay “Black to the Future” (included in the anthology Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture, which he edited). He has been a professor in the Department of Journalism at New York University, a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow at UC Irvine, a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome, and, most proudly, a guest blogger at Boing Boing. He writes the Doom Patrol column of cultural commentary at True/Slant (
You can find out more about these presentation here. You can get directions to Observatory--which is next door to the Morbid Anatomy Library (more on that here)--by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory here, join our mailing list by clicking here, and join us on Facebook by clicking here.

Image: Tweety Bird skull: Copyright Hyungkoo Lee, all rights reserved.


Lees Lamar said...


totally awesome.

Oscar Devonian said...

Never have I regretted living in Australia more. This lecture sounds like it was AMAZING.

Any idea of sources relating to this topic I could check out in order to fill the gaping void in my soul that missing this has created?