Visible Man is the name given to a man, drawn or sculpted, with visible innards, and usually removable skin, muscles, organs, and so on. Found in a book, there would be multiple sheets of clear plastic, like you would find on an overhead projector, each with a layer of the man drawn on. As a model, there would be, for example, a clear layer of skin you could detach to get a closer look at the inner workings. This, logically, is used as a study aid for those learning anatomy.


During his tour in support of Feelings, David Byrne would change his costume every couple of songs, as if he were one of the dolls in the art to Feelings. He had, for example, a suit made out of bright pink fake fur. (I was told that his wife actually designed all of these costumes.) For the "Electro version" of Psycho Killer, he came out in a body suit that showed what the muscular system looks like.

Later, he put out a limited release CD of remixes of some of the songs from Feelings, used a picture of himself in that body suit for the cover, and called the CD The Visible Man.

Here are the tracks, listed with the DJ's and producers who made the remix:

  1. Fuzzy Freaky by DJ Food
  2. Fuzzy Freaky by Mark Walk and Ruby
  3. Wicked Little Doll by New Kingdom
  4. Walk on Vaseline by Thievery Corp
  5. You Don't Know Me by B-Boy 3000
  6. You Don't Know Me by LLoop
  7. Miss America by Cecco Music
  8. Miss America by Mark Saunders and DB
  9. Amnesia by Rea Mochiach
"The wonders of the human body revealed!"
"From skin to skeleton!"

The Visible Man was also an anatomy toy from the '60s -- a 15" model of a man with transparent skin. The idea was to teach kids about the body -- muscles, organs, skeleton -- by having them assemble the man (yes, it came with instructions, written by "medical authorities"). I think you also had to paint the muscles and organs yourself. I never owned one myself, but I'm guessing it didn't get, uh, too anatomically correct.

Originally sold by Renwal circa 1959, the kit has been rereleased multiple times by another company called Revell. I can't find many references to the toy on the Web (other than on eBay), which leads me to believe it's out of print again.


"Visible Man" also shows up a few places in music ...
  • As mentioned by mimewars, it’s a 1998 album of remixes from David Byrne's Feelings album. Limited to 5,000 copies.
  • It's a bit obscure, but ... saxophonist Tim Berne wrote a suite called "The Visible Man," commissioned by the ROVA Saxophone Quartet. And it's awesome!
  • "Visible Man" is a song by The dB's, written by Peter Holsapple. It's notable to my own E2 experience because of the song's chorus:

    I am Joe's heart
    I am Joe's hand
    I am Joe's lung
    ... which I didn't understand until encountering the I am Joe's... node, which has a nice set of explanations.

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