summaery2018: Projects

Philosophical Bodies. From Text to Material

Project information

submitted by

Henning Schmidgen


Michael Braun, Tim Gollub


Henning Schmidgen, Benno Stein, Jan Willmann

Faculty / Section:
Art and Design,

Degree programme:
Product Design/Substainable Product Cultures (Master of Arts (M.A.)),
Computer Science and Media (english) (Master of Science (M.Sc.)),
Media Studies (Master of Arts (M.A.))

Type of project presentation



Summer semester 2018

Exhibition Location / Event Location
  • Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 7 - Van-de-Velde-Bau

Project description online

The “Penfield homunculus” illustrates the representation of the human body in the human brain. Suggested by neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield (1891-1976), this homunculus shows the human body in correspondence to the size of the body’s representation on the cortex. Hand and mouth are distributed over rather vast amounts of space, whereas forehead and knee occupy only limited areas.

“Philosophical Bodies” transfers the Penfield homunculus from the realm of the neurosciences and applies it the fields of Digital Humanities and Computational Design. Computer scientists, humanities scholars, and designers, collaborate in order to decipher the textual representations of the human body in exemplary discourses and turn these representations into homunculus sculptures.

Our starting point were digitized texts from philosophers, such as the collected works of Kant, Hegel, Freud and others. We analyzed theses corpuses by means of a linguistic model representing relevant aspects of the human body. We then took the corresponding results as the basis for the digitally modeling and 3D printing of the homunculus sculptures.

The resulting “Philosophical Bodies” do not just visualize a specific aspect or topic implied in the corresponding texts. The present sculptures enable us to literally grasp this aspect, inviting us to close considerations and broad comparison – thereby leading us back to reading the texts again.

Exhibition Location / Event Location