“The morning of November 16, 1880, Wilhelm Friedrich Kühne (1837–1900), a professor of physiology at the University of Heidelberg, dissected the head of an executed murderer in his dark room within minutes of the man’s death. Kühne worked around the contracting muscles in the left eye socket to remove the eye and develop an image from the retina of the last thing this man saw.”(1)
According to Douglas Lanska in “Optograms and Criminology: Science, News Reporting, and Fanciful Novels,” (from Literature, Neurology, and Neuroscience: Historical and Literary Connections) Kühne equated “vision to a repetitive photographic process” and he considered the eyes to be “whole photographic workshop.”1 He believed it was possible to develop images, like photographs, from the eyes of the dead. Kühne called the image fixed on the corpse’s retina an optogram, and the process of developing this image optography. If his experiment on the murderer’s head was successful, then optopgrahy had the potential of revolutionizing the investigation of violent crime.
Read more on Strange Remains’ blog
1. Lanska, D. (2013) Optograms and Criminology: Science, News Reporting, and Fanciful Novels. In Stiles, A; Finger, S.; and Boller, F (Eds.), In Literature, Neurology, and Neuroscience: Historical and Literary Connections. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.