Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week 4: MedTech + Art

This week’s discussion of technology and art opened my mind to the concept that art is a significant contributor to technology used in medicine.  I was intrigued to learn how x-rays began.  Concerning tools, Professor Vesna explained that at one time if a Doctor used tools or technology, they were not considered a Doctor.  That was very odd.  Wilhelm Rontgen who was a physicist discovered X-rays.  The name x-rays employs the mathematical designation “x” – the symbol for an unknown.  
Wilhelm's wife's hand under x-ray technology 
While researching art and x-rays, I came across an article, which discusses the use of x-ray technology to study artwork.  Types of materials used in paintings can be discerned when x-ray technology is applied.  We can also discover where and when a painting was created through x-ray technology because of the kinds of minerals found in the materials, the canvass and the paints.  An example is Vermeer’s “The Girl with a Pearl Earing”.  An x-ray of that painting revealed that lead was used in the piece, which was a primary component in white paint.  The discovery gives us clues, based on the details of the lead used in the painting, where and when the piece was created.  
Girl With a Pearl Earing

Girl With a Pearl Earing under x-ray technology
Artist Hugh Turvey creates artwork-employing x-rays of different objects.  One of his pieces is of his wife’s foot in a stiletto developed with x-ray technology.  He notes, “We all understand that your foot is going through quite a lot when it is in a stiletto, but to actually physically see it and to see the angle of the bones…” (Gambino).  Turvey has coined a term for his work: “xogram”.  It describes his work as a mash-up of an x-ray and a photogram.  He creates them by placing an object directly on light sensitive paper and exposing it to x-rays.  
Hugh Turvey's wives foot in a stiletto

Hugh Turvey's "xogram" artwork   art-deeper-look-everyday-objects-180949540/?no-ist

Art Experts. “X-ray Examination.” 24 April 2016. Web.
Gambino, Megan. “X-Ray Art: A Deeper Look at Everyday Objects.” 3 February 2014.            24 April 2016. Web.   art-deeper-look-everyday-objects-180949540/?no-ist
Bakalar, Nicholas. “X-Rays, 1986.” 15 June 2009. 24 April 2016. Web.
Vesna, Victoria. “Http://” Lecture. Medicine       pt3. Youtube, 22 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 April 2016.
Vesna, Victoria. “Http://” Lecture. Medicine pt2             .Youtube, 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 April 2016.



  1. It was very interesting to learn about the different applications of X-rays in art through your post. I didn't know that x-rays were used on actual canvases to uncover the materials used in the painting and it makes me wonder about all of the other unconventional uses for x-rays that may uncover some interesting things

  2. I was also really surprised that the use of tools in medicine was once not considered the norm. X rays are a really cool development and I appreciate your discussion of non medical uses for x rays as well; I'm mostly familiar with medical uses so a different context is really enlightening.

  3. I think you have some really interesting examples of the usage of x-ray, especially in art. The fact that they use x-ray to examine paintings is a very practical and helpful use of x-ray. The other example where they employ x-ray to create artworks is a different usage of x-ray, not exactly practical, but very artistic and inspiring.