"Human" might be overstating it a bit, as Graham is actually a sculpture of a person who might be able to survive a car crash that would otherwise kill any normal human being. He was created by artist Patricia Piccinini in collaboration with a a leading trauma surgeon and a crash investigation expert, for a new Australian road safety campaign.
Graham's gigantic, helmet-like head, the absence of a neck, his bizarre, hoof-like feet, as well as other unnatural features reflect a human body evolved to sustain the forces involved in auto collisions. According to Joe Calafiore, CEO of Australia's Transport Accident Commission, Graham is supposed to draw awareness to our vulnerability to vehicle collisions and hopefully reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the road.
"People can survive running at full pace into a wall but when you're talking about collisions involving vehicles, the speeds are faster, the forces are greater and the chances of survival are much slimmer," Calafiore said. "Cars have evolved a lot faster than humans and graham helps us understand why we need to improve every aspect of our roads system to protect ourselves from our own mistakes."
Christian Kenfield, trauma surgeon at Royal Melbourne Hospital, and Monash University Accident Research Centre crash investigator David Logan helped Patricia Piccinini design Graham, who will be on at the State Library of Victoria, in Melbourne, through August 8, before going on a national tour.
"The most significant part of the body for injury is the head," Dr. Kenfield explains. "And so as the head stops, the brain actually keeps moving forwards, smashing against the front part of the skull, and then bouncing backwards and getting an injury on the back of the head as well... The strongest man cannot hold himself from going forwards in a car accident because the forces are so great." That's why Graham's skull is bigger, thicker, and has more cerebrospinal fluid and ligaments to sustain the brain in case of a crash.
Our faces are also very vulnerable in case of serious collisions, which is why Graham's is concave and has a thick layer of fat that acts as a buffer. If you're wondering about those extra nipples along his rib cage, those are actually airbag-like sacks designed to protect his ribs, and his strong hoof-like feet theoretically allow him to jump out of the way of an approaching vehicle in case of a possible pedestrian crash.
You might not be able to see it in all these images, but according to one digital rendition, Graham's skin is also unusually thick in order to reduce abrasions and road rash.
He might look weird, but apparently that's what's required to survive a fatal car crash. And even if you're cool with looking like something from a horror movie if it means surviving a crash, before we actually evolve into Graham, you might want to think about slowing down next time you're behind the wheel..