Project 12:31: Execution and Research
During my research for rich and undiscovered photographs, designs and stories, I came upon something captivating. Project 12:31 grabbed hold of my mind and thus I had to share with whom ever would listen.
“In 1993, A convicted murderer was executed. His body was given to science, and photographed for medical research. In 2011, we used photography to put it back together.” – Croix Gagnon & Frank Schott
This animation represents the entire data set (1,871 slices) of the male cadaver from the Visible Human Project. The images are long-exposure “light paintings” of the entire cadaver.
Joseph Paul Jernigan was born January 31st, 1954. 27 years after his birth, in 1981, Jernigan was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the stabbing and shooting of 75-year-old Edward Hale.
Jernigan spent 12 years in Prison. After his last formal plea of mercy was denied by the U.S. courts, Jernigan’s sentence was carried out at 12:31 AM, on August 5th, 1993.
Croix Gagnon and Frank Schott (creators of Project 12:31) quoted Mark 12:31 from Christian scriptures.
The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these. – Mark 12:31
Jernigan’s cadaver was sectioned and photographed for the Visible Human Project at the University of Colorado’s Health Sciences Center. The Visible Human Project is an effort to create a detailed data set of cross-sectional photographs of the human body, in order to facilitate anatomy visualization applications. Jernigan’s cadaver was encased and frozen in a gelatin and water mixture in order to stabilize the specimen for cutting.
Controversy arose as medical professionals announced ethical concerns about the intersection of executions and medical research. At the prompting of a prison chaplain Jernigan had agreed to donate his body for scientific research or medical use, without knowing about the Visible Human Project.
I believe that Gagnon Croix and Frank Schott created Project 12:31 to simultaneously honor 2 human lives – Jernigan’s and Hale’s (Jernigan’s Victim) and the research that came from it.
The following images were created with a combination of night photography and long-exposure photographs of the cadaver animation.
Photography by Frank Schott, 2011
Croix Gagnon and Frank Schott capture a ghastly embodiment of Jernigan through the manipulation of the Visible Human Project Experiment. Whether the spirit of Jernigan is made animate by this project is unknown to me. I have seldom experienced a creative endeavor that focuses on the days after a person’s life ends – let alone an executed person whom was dissected.
This is what I listened to whilst I wrote.
Shmo signing off.