Monday, February 3, 2014

The Creativity of X-Rays

Art encapsulates the breadth of human experience within picturesque paintings, sensual sculptures, and even within pedantic prose. Yet, art’s variety and versatility extend far beyond such traditional mediums. Meet Hugh Turvey’s x-ray photography: a dappling of artistic expression mollifying the boundaries between science and art. His innovative redirecting of photography captures the beauty of the unseen and the imagination of a fundamentally investigative society.
"Femme Fatale" This is Turvey's favorite picture. It is now an iconic image of women suffering for fashion.
Trained as an art director and digital photographer, Turvey originally wanted to be a rock and roll photojournalist. X-ray images only became Turvey’s passion by fortuitous circumstances. In 1996, a colleague of Turvey wanted him to find a picture of a broken bone for an album cover. After Turvey visited a local hospital’s radiographer for an x-ray, his fascination with its complex interplay of density and light enraptured his life. Before this encounter, entire universes laid outside his perception, and now he wants to document these universes at all their levels.
Turvey patched together the motorcycle by digitalizing x-rays on photographic scanners.
Although Turvey is not the first man to utilize x-rays for aesthetic purposes, no one before him has gone to such intricate depths or captured such diverse images. The rare snapshots usually consisted solely of flowers and, while beautiful, sat forlornly upon the desk of the doctor adventurous enough to capture the image. Turvey surged beyond that to reveal the elaborate and ornate world regularly invisible to the naked eye on a grand scale.
Dain Tasker's Flower (1931). Originator of the Domain. His pictures sat abandoned in his attic until rediscovered in the 70s.
Turvey reached across divergent domains to establish a popular art form and a new expertise. A science app for children, called “X is for X-ray,” once commissioned him to capture images rotating simultaneously in both x-rays and in visible light. By doing this, the app’s creators hoped to expose children to the wonders of their invisible world by intersplicing it with the visible world. As that technology simply did not exist, Turvey and his colleagues only succeeded by merging various techniques that now allow children to experience science in a new and interactive way.
Turvey’s vivid depictions of minute life continually receive the adoration of scientists and the general public alike. His work has gone on exhibitions across Europe for its inventiveness and ingenuity. It appears that those fine details, accentuated by his talent and allowable only by science, draw people in to inspect their world in a way never before possible.
Yet, this serendipitous melding of domains raises an interesting moral dilemma as well. Several have remarked upon the ethicalness of subjecting humans to unnecessary and possibly harmful radiation. To these valid criticisms, Turvey responds that he has curbed his photographing of human subjects as the current regulatory climate looks disapprovingly upon it. Now, his attention stays mostly on curious, inanimate objects and low-level or dead organisms such as the goldfish and elephant skull pictured.
Art is simply capturing a moment, a feeling in time. X-ray art captures these very same moments and feelings just in a formerly, unallowable detail.  These x-rays allow us to fathom our world with a new emotional depth that was previously impossible to even examine.
For more information on the artist or the history of x-ray art, click on links below:

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