A man naps inside of a hair follicle, vehicles cruise through major arteries, and human heads divide and multiply like cells—these surreal scenes are par for the course in the work of Chinese illustrator Jam Dong. In her latest series of illustrations, titled Fake Medical Graphics, she reimagines human biology in humorous, quirky ways. “If we look at our bodies under a microscope, certain areas can seem abstract, even graphical,” she says. “They may seem strange, but they are inside of us.”
男人在头皮发囊下小憩、轿车在动脉血管里巡航、人类头颅变成细胞模样，野蛮繁衍生长。这些不太真实的景象，出自中国插画师 Jam Dong 的笔下。在她最近的插画系列《内科假想（Fake Medical Graphics》中，Jam 以幽默、奇特的方式重新构想人体构造。她说道：“如果在显微镜下观察我们的身体，很多部分会变得抽象、图像化。这些细微的变化、或是神奇的构造就发生在我们体内，而我们却对此感到陌生。”
Under her pen, narrow blood vessels transform into a network of intersecting roadways, intestines become playground slides, and a singular cell has grown into an entire planet blooming with never-before-seen foliage. With the right perspective and a bit of imagination, the microscopic can seem expansive, and the mundane can take on grandiose qualities. Dong believes that if you look closely enough, the human anatomy can begin to resemble vast landscapes or even the universe at large. “Even though they may be tiny enough to exist inside of our bodies,” she says.
Even before creating the series, biology had long been a subject of fascination for her. In school, she scored top grades in biology. “It interests me because it’s a field so intertwined with life,” she says. “And life means everything.”
Outside of school, this interest in living organisms persisted. She frequently spent time chatting with her grandpa, a physician, learning about various diseases and how the human body operates. The beautiful complexity of the human body and the natural world remain constant sources of wonder to this day. “It could be something as little as the structure of a seed or as big as an entire ecosystem,” she says. “These small ideas can trigger my imagination, and inspire me to start drawing one of my stories.”
Despite the anatomical incorrectness of Fake Medical Graphics, Dong says that a lot of inspiration came from actual medical texts and science books, though these inspirations weren’t always visual in nature. Sometimes, a new piece of scientific knowledge will be enough to set her creativity into motion. “I’ll follow that inspiration and apply the story I want to tell to it,” she explains. “The final piece is often very far away from where I started.”
As humorous as they may be, Dong’s illustrations are ultimately meditations on the miracle of life and human physiology. In an indirect way, these works call attention to the complex, unseen mechanisms at work in keeping the natural world in balance and our bodies healthy. In the throes of a seemingly endless pandemic, these reminders—presented with a signature touch of playfulness and imagination–may perhaps be more relevant than ever. “The contradiction between being familiar and strange, large and micro, is something I love discussing,” she says. “They can reflect the relationships between humans, nature, and our inner selves.”
无论 Jam 的呈现方式再怎么幽默、再怎么风趣，作品的主题最终还是会放在生命和人类上面。她的插画正以一种间接的方式唤起人们对生物复杂机制、微观构造的关注，而这些在维持自然世界平衡、以及身体健康方面都发挥着重要作用。在眼下这个看似不休止的大疫情时代，这种充满想象力的玩笑式提醒，要比以往来得更是时候。她说：“我的作品看上去既熟悉又陌生、即微观又宏观，这恰恰是我希望与观众探讨的，反映出人类、自然还有我们内心之间的联系。”