Designed to Survive Our Roads

Ruben Baart
July 29th 2016

A road safety campaign in the Australian state of Victoria exposed an educational, yet confronting picture to raise awareness on the vulnerability of the human body. Meet Graham, “the only person designed to survive on our roads”. It makes us wonder if the things that we design end up designing us.

A trauma surgeon, a crash investigation expert and an artist were commissioned to develop this interactive sculpture. On the 21st of July, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission (TAC) revealed Graham as both an online experience as an art installation. The sculpture is modeled after an evolutionary parallel, where human bodies would be able to endure car crashes.

“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 executive chief Joe Calafiore says.

A road safety campaign exposes a confronting picture to highlight the vulnerable human body on the road

Graham’s bodily features are made of silicone, fiberglass, resin and human hair. His large skull and his lacking of a neck are shaped after naturally caused body deformations. Royal Melbourne Hospital trauma surgeon Christian Kenfield explains: "One of the real injuries that we have as humans in a high-speed car crash is a neck injury, a cervical spine fracture or dislocation of the ligaments as the head flexes forward and then hyper-extends back".

A road safety campaign exposes a confronting picture to highlight the vulnerable human body on the road

Visitors can interact with Graham through augmented reality. The installation introduces Google Tango to Australian grounds, allowing the audience to take a deeper look under his skin. The online experience is meant for educational purposes and offers a 360 degrees rotating view and a see-through hovering element. Calafiore says: “Graham is an educational tool that will serve the community for years to come as a reminder of why we need to develop a safer road system that will protect us when things go wrong.”

A road safety campaign exposes a confronting picture to highlight the vulnerable human body on the road

Sources: TACAustralian Broadcasting Corporation

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Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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