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Art Imitates Medical Imaging

Posted March 26, 2009 4:27 PM by Steve Melito

Oscar Wilde once said that "life imitates art". But did the Irish playwright ever have a CT scan? And if he had, would the poet who was once jailed for "gross indecency" now claim that art imitates medical imaging?

Wilde Radiology

Computed tomography (CT) is a medical imaging and non-destructive testing (NDT) technique that produces a three-dimensional (3D) image of the inside of an object. In medical applications, this "object" is often a lung, liver, kidney, spleen, or other organ. In industrial settings, CT scanning is used for the non-invasive testing of materials.

According to RadiologyInfo, a Web site from the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), CT imaging is "one of the best and fastest tools" for producing "cross-sectional views" of the human body. Known as CT scans or CAT scans, the resulting images are quite colorful. CT scanning for NDT also produces CT scans with rich shades of red, blue, green, and yellow.

"Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form," wrote Oscar Wilde, "can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways". These lines, recorded many years before Britain's Godfrey Hounsfield invented the first commercially-viable CT scanner in 1971, could complement an unusual art exhibit featured recently in the New York Times. Sartre Stuelke, an artist-turned-medical-student, is using CT scans to create inside-out art from everyday objects.

Inside Everyday Objects

On his Web site, Stuelke writes that "the way cameras and film see what is in front of them is radically different than the way our eyes see things". Clearly, the same is true of CT scanners and CAT scans. Stuelke's artwork is designed to penetrate the interior world of metal, plastic, and organic materials – the things of everyday life. As the artist recently told the Times, his goal is to ask people to "think about how things are constructed".

So did Sartre Stuelke succeed? His 18-page slide show (link below) examines a mechanical dog, a rubber duck, an iPhone, a McDonald's Big Mac and Chicken McNuggets, a squeak toy, a Swanson's Hungry Man fried chicken TV dinner, and a toy rocket. There are also slides of a wind-up rabbit, Motorola Razr cell phone, toy submarine, mechanical elephant, clamshell iBook, Norelco electric razor, stuffed animal, and Christmas Barbie.

There's also a CAT scan of what Stuelke calls "our recently retired toaster". The kitchen appliance stopped toasting on one side of the bread, yet "the CT scan couldn't really reveal why though".

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/03/23/science/032409-Scan_index.html

Other Resources:

http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?PG=bodyct

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computed_tomography

http://www.quotesdaddy.com/quote/960638/oscar-wilde/mere-colour-unspoiled-by-meaning-and-unallied-with

http://satre.itrnet.com/studio/studio.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde

The Y Files

Steve Melito

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#1

Re: Art Imitates Medical Imaging

03/26/2009 4:55 PM

Cool pictures! Thanks for the link Moose!

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#2
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Re: Art Imitates Medical Imaging

03/27/2009 8:30 AM

You're welcome, Kilowatt0! Glad you like 'em!

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#3

Re: Art Imitates Medical Imaging

03/27/2009 10:56 AM

Very interesting article! It is amazing how processing a product with a different method (other than merely looking with our eyes) changes the whole outlook on a device. Props for including the links for pictures, they were really cool!

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#4

Re: Art Imitates Medical Imaging

03/30/2009 10:57 AM

Interesting article and images! If you can't (or don't want to) take something apart and have access to the technology, it looks like it would be very helpful. And just cool. :)

I must admit the food scans kind of creeped me out though...

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