How a man called Graham raised road safety awareness and became a terrifying meme

The disturbingly lifelike model shows how we need to evolve if we don’t stop having car crashes – and has since taken on a life of its own on the internet

Andrew Griffin
Friday 22 July 2016 14:04 BST
Graham, as seen from the side
Graham, as seen from the side

This man is the picture of fitness in one sense: he has the perfect body to live through a car crash.

The sculpture, named Graham, has been created by an Australian artist in an attempt to encourage road safety.

The strange shape of the man’s body is built so that it could survive through a road accident. His large, round head would help protect him from impact, and the strange, rippled ribs help cushion any blow.

The creation has been made as a way of showing just how different – and how unequipped – the human body is to withstand a crash, according to the Australian Transport Accident Commission.

He was made by artist Patricia Piccinini, who worked alongside a surgeon and a car crash investigation expert to produce the perfect body for crashes.

"I really listened and internalised the science of it and then I approached it in a creative way, on an emotional level," Ms Piccinini told the ABC.

"The eyes are where the work is, it's where the viewer can really connect with him and empathise."

Chief executive of the TAC Joe Calafiore said that the sculpture – made using silicone, fibreglass, resin and human hair – is meant to show how humans have evolved for many of the normal challenges of every day life, but that their strength and resilience can’t yet match the destruction of a car crash.

"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,” he said.

Since he was shown off on the internet, the strange appearance of Graham has helped make him into something of a meme. The picture is being shared widely on the internet – in large part because of his unusual look, rather than as a result of the message that it is intended to show.

Graham is on display at the State Library of Victoria, but can also be seen in a special experience that has been created online.

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