Week 3 The Body: From X-Ray to Infrared

The human body represents itself most commonly in association to what is on the surface: skin, hair, limbs, a face, etc. What humans knew about the biology of the human body grew with technology. Before the invention of x-rays, made famous through Wilhelm Rontgen, human body features could be studied externally, but what lied inside would be have to looked into, literally. Now, we know continually to learn more about the human body not only from what we see on our surface, but from our many systems, especially skeletal, we can learn by looking through them.

What can be seen often identifies or reveals something about the human body. Now, a new epistemology of “seeing” the human body has advanced with new technology. X-rays allow for doctors and scientists to look at the bones of still living people in order to discover what may be a health issue for a particular person. It is this literal perception of the human body with new technology that allows us to see beyond how we appear to the extent in which the human body can be understood as something vulnerable. In the same way that an exposed body reveals a sense of nakedness and weakness, a deeper level from that may reveal an even greater sense of vulnerability.

Technology today identifies the human body beyond its surface for many purposes, one of them being warfare. This advancement has created a tactical advantage of those who can better “see” their enemies. A thermal scope can be added to militarized weapons to help soldiers locate their enemies despite low lighting or darkness. The vulnerability of the human body can now be seen using infrared, revealing individuals based on heat signatures instead of what normal light shows.


This type of technology has certainly improved the combat of soldiers who are given the advantage of locating their enemies without themselves being seen. One example which uses this technology has stirred controversy: the U.S. Apache helicopter shooting in Baghdad. Revealed by Wikileaks in April, 2010, video was leaked onto the internet of U.S. military indiscriminately killing  of  dozens of people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad, including two Reuters staff (www.collateralmurder.com).

This has shown just that kind of vulnerability the human body shows with the aid of advancing technology despite what can be seen under normal circumstances.

Addison Bi


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