Feeling at Home



[1] [2] [3] [4]

Despite all complex theories, material and technical sciences, the strongest human connection to his body will remain the individual. We want to identify with the functions going on in ourselves, feel alive or special and at home. And therefore, a strong analogy is the populated house, the home.

The earliest depiction with this theme I found in 1708 in a Hebrew encyclopaedia (PIC1). With the description of chakra centres as temples and the whole chakra being one unit, also the body turns into a temple, hosting a lively substance.

Around the 1930s, the natural scientist Fritz Kahn built a whole functioning industrial palace (PIC2) And, like we saw in previous paragraphs, he also populated many more individual places inside the human body with little homunculi and other life. Often his scenarios do not seem like comfortable homes. But for his time the machines and industry were modern and the homunculi working in it seem so professional in what they do that we feel save. We like to imagine our body operated by those little experts. Another example of the works created under his instructions is the human torso as aquarium, describing the water balance of the body (PIC4). It gives the body an elevation while just showing what is there plus implementing the obviously absurd. Like this and with the simple message that the body is an impressive entity he brings the wonder back into the body! For his time his works were visionary and still today they seem informative and enchanting, because they seem highly scientific and imaginative at the same time.


The Head

[5] [6] [7] [8]

In 1628 Harvey described the blood cycle and from this moment on the heart was a pump. Therewith, the whole interpretations of the bodies organisation, the body model, had to change crucial. For example, the state body metaphor got great support in the direction of equality and interactions. Also, this was the scientific transition from the cardio-centrical to the cranio-centrical body, so the medic Fay Bound Alberti.[9]

When we look at René Descartes visual description of a body-mind duality, we see that our visual organ, the eyes, shape a big amount of our reality. And they are, as simple as that, located in our head (PIC1).

So, in our head we were always primarily searching for our identity and sense, what may be the most personal of all anatomic research professions.

Around 1810 phrenologists tried to map the identity out of the skull. PIC2 shows the separation of the brain into 27 “organs”. The brain scan (PIC3) is the contemporary version of this approach. Maybe more precise, but regarding the depiction highly technical and without any artistic approach.

Fritz Kahn’s depiction of seeing and recognition seems more subjective than Descartes, with all the homunculi in it (PIC4). But it is also more functional. The metaphysic of philosophy is gone here. Instead Kahn implemented a transcendental level with the “fantasy-part” of his illustrations that suits the consumer of popular science. Like Uta von Debschitz points out in the book “Fritz Kahn”, he was always aware and anxious to leave a metaphysical gap in his illustrations and descriptions.[10]


In this archive of body interior depictions one can find a huge number of stories that are worth being illustrated and material to use and get inspired by. And many I will use to create my visual experience in the end:
The medical approach shows an evolution strongly connected to society structures. And there is a clear division of the body into organs. The metaphysical approach offers interesting stories regarding the mind-body relationship. Its essence may be the issue of micro-/macro-analogies. I will use all those themes in my design solution, creating story and settings with it.       
And the artistic approach will help me design, with the house analogy and many visual aesthetics as essences.
The research of this chapter may end with the escape into the head. But here we also like to indulge in our emotions and feels, and this is where the heart and the modern viewer come into play…


[1] Toviyah Kats (author), Ma’a’seh Tuviyya, 1708. Retrieved from

[2] Johann Georg Gichtel, Theospophia Practica, 1696, colour chart. Retrieved from https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Georg_Gichtel#/media/File:Theosophia_Practica_-_Gichtel.jpg

[3] Fritz Kahn, Der Mensch als Industriepalast, 1926. In Fritz Kahn, Das Leben des Menschen III, 1926, Poster-attachement. Retrieved from http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/koerper-erklaerer-fritz-kahn-fotostrecke-106634.html

[4] Fritz Kahn, Das Leben des Menschen I, 1922, Man as aquarium. In Uta von Debschitz and Thilo von Debschitz, Fritz Kahn (TASCHEN GmbH, 2013), 141

[5] René Descartes (author), Gerard van Gutschoven (artist), Treatise on Man, 1664, Part of. Retrieved from

[6] Franz Joseph Gall and Johann Caspar Spurzheim, People’s Cyclopedia of Universal Knowlede, 1883, phrenology chart. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrenology#/media/File:PhrenologyPix.jpg

[7] pwhlewis@gmail.com, 22. July, 2014, “Never, never, never give up”, The Stand Blog, Figure 3. Retrieved from

[8] Fritz Kahn, Das Leben des Menschen II, 1924, plate of, The five points in common between muscle operation and an electric doorbell circuit. Retrieved from http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/machine-head

[9] Alberti, Matters of the Heart, 2010, 39

[10] Uta von Debschitz and Thilo von Debschitz, Fritz Kahn, 2013, 21