DOI link for TECHNOGENESIS
Like all executed criminals, Jernigan’s virtual imago serves as an admonitory figure, a moral exemplar warning of the fate attendant on transgression of the social contract (Hutchings 1997). This doubtless accounts for much of the popular appeal of the image. It shores up a punitive sense of justice and upholds the rule of law, while translating the scene of judgement into the digital medium and giving it global distribution on the Web. I claimed at the beginning of Chapter 3 that the VHP recapitulates the entire history of anatomy. It remediates both anatomy’s history of visualisation-the transition from the earliest drawn atlases, through photography, the endoscope, the xray and tomography-and its production of social hierarchies of biovalue, through a morality of transgression, condemnation, sacrifice and post-humous redemption. The figure of Jernigan reminds us that this history does not belong to the brutal past of biomedicine but is with us still. The Visible Human Project indicates the latent status of all citizens, all subjects, as possible objects within the optical field of biomedicine. All subjects are potential standing reserves and sources of biovalue, raw materials for biotechnical projects. Some, like the woman who donated her body to the project, take up this potential as part of the duties of citizenship. Others, like Jernigan, are designated by regimes of crime and punishment, or related regimes of class, race, sex and colonisation, as suitable material for biotechnical transformation, fated to act as test-technologies for other, more worthy citizens. Bodily matter that is deemed socially valueless can be redeemed by working its biological qualities in the interests of those whose bodies count in the social order.