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09 October 2012

Imago Mortis...Images of Death



..The last image you see when you are alive is the image of your death..



In 1600 even before the birth of photography, scientist Girolamo Fumagalli, lived with the obsession of capturing images. After specific studies he tried to take out the eye retina from an assassinated people convinced that the last image seen from the subjects was impressed in it and tried to reproduce the image in a photograph. This technique was called thanatography and Fumagalli murdered many people to study this phenomena before being captured and condemn to death.


This is the plot of italian horror movie called IMAGO MORTIS (2008) . It would actually be very interesting if this was true but unfortunately it isn't. It's all a nice work of fantasy. In fact 1600 it wouldn't have been possible to create such a technique. 

In the movie the instrument used to create the macabre images is called thanatoscope. In reality this name refers to a legal medical instrument that calculates how long someone has been dead through body temperature.



The word Thanatos comes from the omonymous Ancient Greek demon that was the personification of death. 

Other terms containing the word Thanatos are:

Thanatophobia is the fear of things associated with or reminiscent of death and mortality, such as corpses or graveyards. It is also known as necrophobia, although this term typically refers to a specific fear of dead bodies rather than a fear of death in general.

Thanatology is the academic and scientific study of death among human beings. It investigates the circumstances surrounding a person's death, the grief experienced by the deceased's loved ones, and larger social attitudes towards death such as ritual and memorialization. It is primarily an interdisciplinary study, frequently undertaken by professionals in nursing, psychology, sociology, psychiatry, social work and veterinary science. It also describes bodily changes that accompany death and the after-death period.



Also Dario Argento's thriller movie 4 Flies On Grey Velvet contains this same idea of Imago Mortis. In the movie the police tries to find out who's the murderer by examining the eye retina of the victim.
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