Human World

CT scans reveal beauty that is more than skin deep

It is my opinion that the adage from Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun” simply isn’t true anymore, at least not here on this earth at this point in time. One of the best things about being alive today is that with ever-increasing frequency one can stumble upon something that is brand new.

Last week while reading the New York Times I was thunderstruck by something truly ingenious in an article is entitled “The Inner Beauty of a McNugget: A Cultural Scan.” Perhaps it takes the mind of an artist to figure out something mind-blowingly innovative to do with medical technology that makes a splash in the visual world of art photography, which is exactly what Satre Stuelke, a former art professor at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan turned medical student at Weill Cornell Medical College, has done.

In 2007 Mr. Stuelke began scanning pop objects, food and mechanical devices via Computed Tomography, commonly known as CT scan, and the results are fascinating. He examines an endless stream of subjects ranging from toasters and Barbie dolls to toy cars, rubber duckies, and cel phones. Did you ever wonder if there is inner beauty in a Swanson’s Hungry Man fried chicken TV dinner? Well, there is.

I’ve always been curious about how things are made, but I admit I’ve never once thought about what would happen if you could X-ray all sorts of weird stuff to see what’s inside. But, really, why not? Is it because CT scans are not generally accessible? I don’t know, but when I think about it, it’s sort of baffling that no one has done it before, at least not in such a dramatic, stunning, and artistic way.

Mr. Stuelke’s special contribution is revealing the beauty of the guts and bolts inside common and uncommon objects using an array of crisply saturated colors to enhance the images. He has produced results that are some of the most beautiful and interesting imagery I believe I’ve ever seen. I’m not exactly sure why I find these so far out, but, well, I do. There’s something extraordinary about the sheer simplicity of the idea, and yet, the whole thing just completely surprises and fascinates me, and I could stare at the images for hours. And really, who knew that Barbie actually has a skull inside her head and bones in her limbs? No rib cage, but no matter — that she has even a partial skeleton is amazing. That revelation alone is worth a considerable amount of mental digestion time and it yields such a sweet aftertaste. Bravo Mattel, and thank you Mr. Stuelke!

The NYT article has an accompanying gallery of images, and you can find many more plus little rotating movies and technical information on Mr. Stuelke’s site, radiologyart. I also enjoyed another blog item about this artistic and analytical breakthrough on The Escape Complex.

April 12, 2009
Human World

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