Yesterday, I met Graham. I met him on MeetGraham.com.au. I met his half-formed teats, all 13 of them, and his thick, tough skin, and his knee joints that rotate 360 degrees, like a demon’s. I didn’t meet his neck, because he doesn’t have one. After meeting Graham, I had never been gladder that the human body was not built to survive a car crash.
Graham is “the only person designed to survive on our roads,” as his makers put it. The implied condescension to the rest of us, with our weak skulls that can be easily crushed by automobiles, is intentional. “Graham,” a sculpture made by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini, in collaboration with a trauma surgeon and a road safety engineer, is meant to be “a reminder of just how vulnerable our bodies really are.” This memento mori was designed as part of TowardsZero, a road safety campaign in the Australian state of Victoria.
“As much as we like to think we’re invincible, we’re not,” the designers write on MeetGraham.com.au. “But what if we were to change? What if our bodies were built to survive a low impact crash? What might we look like?” The answer: Unspeakably grotesque.
Made of silicone, fiberglass, resin and human hair, Graham is equipped with airbags in between each rib (the purpose of the nipples on each is not explained); a massive helmet-like skull and a flat, fatty face to protect his nose and ears (no word on whether the chin beard also serves a protective purpose); leathery skin that resists abrasions; and no neck, so he can’t break it. He looks like the hell spawn of Ron Mueck and Philip K. Dick.
You can treat yourself to a 360 degree video of Graham and loving descriptions of his design on MeetGraham.com.au. At the State Library of Victoria, where he’s silently terrorizing visitors with his presence, you can use an app to see x-ray details of his innards.
In my nightmare, Graham crashed a car into a tree, then walked away from the wreckage, laughing a terrible grunt-laugh, thanking each of his 13 inflated nipples for doing their job so well.