Student Reflection – Plastination! Unlock a World of Post-Mortem Possibility! (6.1)

By Hannah Moreno

This satirical infographic is an opinion piece meant to be reminiscent of an ad. It is a visual discussion of how plastination is marketed and displayed with the ultimate goal of persuading the audience to regard modern plastination as a distasteful practice.

Modern/contemporary plastination, here, is used as a term that references the practice of plastination for the creation of objectionable displays.

I wanted to make an infographic, because I felt that it would provide a great platform for a visual argument. Because modern plastination is a visual experience, it seemed like the most relevant form of communication. I felt that using images would allow me to access an involuntary emotional response from the viewer. I wanted everyone to be horrified by the pictures, as well as the cheery contradictory space they were placed in. It seemed like a reasonable way to point out how desensitized our culture has become by calling the viewer to feel something about a topic they may have previously been indifferent to.

Though I chose to incorporate a comedic twist, plastination is truly a touchy topic. For most people, death is something that has personally affected them. Though I wanted to convey the lack of sensitivity of modern plastination, accomplishing that proved difficult without coming across as insensitive myself. The purpose behind the satire, was to inject some black humor into the matter. The idea was that adults or college students would read this and chuckle to themselves at the absurdity of the claims made given the pictures that accompany those claims. I struggled to maintain receptiveness from the audience and approachability in the piece while conveying the idea that the approach to displaying the dead in contemporary plastination exhibits is inherently flawed. (For example, the use of plastination as a potential learning tool is undermined by the theatrical influence on many of the displays. In some of them bodies are engaged in explicit behaviors and positions or they are overwhelmed by their costumes and props.) It was my belief that I could lighten the topic with exaggerated advertising and not so subtle hard sell pressure tactics. Being over the top was meant to make the advertisement a distasteful representation of the practice it promotes. If my audience did not support plastination for the purpose of exhibition, I wanted to solidify that feeling. If the audience did not see a problem with it, my purpose was to point out the problem. If my audience supported plastination, my goal was to make them reevaluate their position. It was challenging to find pictures of displays that would shock my audience without offending them. I included pictures of some of the more controversial displays because I felt that they most directly clashed with the pseudo-claims I placed in the infographic. Upon review, perhaps using the highly controversial plastinated fetus was a poor choice because, without warning or a clearly communicated tone, it became an alarming visual and emotional assault on the viewer. It became clear to me that using tone to communicate a message of such emotional gravity has incredible power. It can capture the audience, but can just as easily alienate it. I wanted people to be shocked, unsettled, and amused or upset. I wanted them to feel something. For the viewer to walk away unchanged, having felt nothing at all throughout the viewing experience, would have been a failure. I have since learned the importance of balancing my tone in keeping the respect and attention of my audience.

Ultimately I had hoped that whether the audience viewed the infographic as disrespectful, or the practice of plastination, that they would leave the viewing experience having associated the two. The thought of the viewer would ideally be, “The modern display of plastination is disrespectful.” In conclusion, my “text-based infomercial” was designed to be over-the-top with the intent of emphasizing the inappropriate way that plastination is marketed and carried out in display.