A synthetic polymer ear at a research facility (file image)
A scientist seeds stem cells onto a synthetic polymer ear at a research facility in London. (AP PHOTO)

Art imitates art in viral video of life-like sentient body parts

William Ton February 10, 2023

Scientists have created the world’s first modular body from living human cells.


False. The modular body is not real and was created using computer animation as part of an art project.

It’s alive! Well, not really.

Social media users have been left disturbed by what appears to be the scientific development of fleshy, man-made body organ modules connected to create a sentient organism.

The video (screenshot here) shared on social media depicts a scientist connecting fleshy prototypes of various human body parts that twitch and creep around on a lab bench when attached to an electronic “brain”.

A user who posted it on February 3 said: “This was 6 years ago. Imagine what monstrosities they have in underground labs now!!”, while another account posted the video on February 7, marvelling at the technological advancements.

The posts have been met with a mix of horror and disbelief. They have also spawned a range of imaginative conspiracy theories.

“Man-made horrors beyond my comprehension”, one user posted. “This is how human zombie is born,” said another.

However, they can rest easy as the creepy organism is a computer animation.

A screenshot from the Facebook video.
 The video shows the lab-made creature moving around on a bench. 

The life-like organism was created using computer animation as part of a Dutch art project.

The Modular Body is a 2016 online sci-fi story about the creation of Oscar, a living organism built from human cells, the art project’s website states.

The story follows biologist Cornelis Vlasman, who sets up an independent lab and experiments with organic materials to create a primitive organism made up of clickable “on and off” organ modules grown from human cells.

The work borrows “similar narratives in world literature and film history, notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein“.

The project’s director, Dutch digital artist Floris Kaayk, confirmed to AAP FactCheck “that Oscar is not a reality”.

“Interesting to see people are still intrigued by my science fiction project from 2016,” he said via email. “I sort of understand the confusion, but I can 100 per cent confirm that Oscar is not a reality. It’s fiction, computer animation, part of an art project.”

Sulley and Mike from Monster's Inc (film image)
 The video of monstrous body parts is actually a work of computer animated science fiction. 

In a behind the scenes video uploaded in February 2017, the director explains the thinking and concepts behind the work which explores the idea around an ideal design of a human body and the ethics of biotechnology research.

In a separate video, an animator explains the process of animating Oscar and the detail needed to make it appear real.

Mr Kaayk’s previous works also share the theme of futuristic concepts.

The Verdict

The claim that scientists have created the world’s first modular body from living human cells is false.

The organism shown in the video was created by computer animation for a 2016 Dutch art project. The project’s director told AAP FactCheck it is not real.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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