Two men: trauma surgeon Christian Kenfield and road safety engineer David Logan. One idea: boobs are a great safety device. The logic? Boobs.
Sculptor Patricia Piccinini consulted with these two when she created "Graham," a mutant doll who represents what humankind might look like if it evolved to be able to withstand severe car accidents. Understandably Graham's head is much larger, to keep his brain from getting jostled. Also understandably, he has a flat face with lots of fat surrounding his features — minimizing the chances of a broken nose. He has hoof-like feet and super flexible knees that bend in every direction. These adjustments would make it easier for him to spin or leap out of trouble in the event of a crash. Cool!
He also has mountains of boobs. In describing Graham the designer says that he has "sacks" between each of his ribs, and call his chest "airbag-like." I wonder if this is the first or 400,000th time that someone has hilariously referred to a boob as an airbag.
Boobs are soft-ish, and could be considered padding. If you don't want your ribs to splinter in a car crash, I suppose having some padding over them would help. However, just wondering — have any of the people on this project ever gotten hit in the rack? It hurts. A lot. To quote Verge video director Kim Mas: "That's like saying 'we added extra balls down around his waist because ... pillows, guys. Pillows.'" Imagine.
The designers say these beautiful flesh cascades need to have a nipple — they're meant to expel fluid from the sacs behind them. As nursing mothers know, nipples tend to leak when the sacs behind them are filled with fluid. And here's a fun fact about nipples: they're extremely sensitive if you have female hormones in your body. Graham might have a grand old time stopping a steering column with his nipple bouquet, but his wife would not. You could say I'm thinking too hard about a kitschy piece that's meant to encourage road safety, rather than a serious suggestion for human design. But it does seem like a very weird solution — one that’s relying on boobs for shock value.
Graham is meant to remind us "how vulnerable our bodies really are," and the creators hope he'll encourage people with comparatively hot and fragile 21st century bods to drive safely. That's the main upside of Graham: he may have a ton of weird nips but he definitely makes me feel like a babe in comparison (it's like the opposite of going to free yoga in Bryant Park!). I'm not positive that I'll think about him the next time I'm behind the wheel, but you never know. I'm sure thoughts of Graham will pop up when we least expect them.
Updated July 22nd, 11:42 AM: Updated to include the designers' intention for the inverted nipples on Graham.