Measured Pain

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1909, Zeitschrift fur Allgemeine Physiologie Vol. X, Taf. 5; seismo, frog in strychnine.

Through its stark contrast of black and white, its juxtaposition of line and color (or, really, color’s absence), the seismographic record ostensibly filters out flesh, pain, and worldly excess.  It reduces all to a quick line that celebrates the advent of hands-free, mechanical image-making.  And, yet, if the graph’s binary elements speak the language of simplicity, of unadulterated distance, the forms that they take — sharp, angular spikes, unseemly ridges — set the mind searching for an animated cause.  And so back through the chain of reactions one can go, such that even if un-pictured, a mangled body cannot be far behind.

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