X-rays are usually fraught with unpleasant connotations because of their associations with physical disabilities and disease. Very rarely have they been investigated as an art form, despite the fact that they contain an artist's formal vocabulary: line, value, color, texture, and shape.
I view X-rays with an artist's eye, not as a medical diagnostician. I associate the X-ray imagery to photography. The X-ray's value contrasts, textural variations, linear qualities, and unusual shapes engage me. I think many are beautiful and intriguing. Furthermore, X-rays explore an old art theme in a new and unique way: figurative art has been a subject for artists since the time of the caveman's animal and human wall drawings.
Starting with Picasso, many artists, (Schwitters, Rauschenberg , and Stockholder, for examples) have used found materials in their artwork. However, very few artists have investigated the X-ray as an art form because few have had access to them. The American Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) designates the ownership of human X-rays to the physician or hospital, not the patient. The X-ray radiographs I used to create my X-ray collages were donated by medical healthcare professionals, only with the promise that no personal identifying labels be left on the artwork.
Using X-rays donated by veterinarians, physicians, and medical researchers, I have created a series of X-ray collage prints titled INSIGHT. They were created from X-rays of DNA sequencing gels, X-rays of cells grown in petri dishes, human and animal X-rays, mammograms, and ultrasound radiographs. After the X-rays were cut and pasted into collages, they were photographed over a light box. Then, some collages had their colors modified through computer generated processes. Finally, the manipulated images were printed. The INSIGHT prints can be hung individually or serially.
My INSIGHT X-ray collaged giclee prints speak of the human condition. Their transparency implies their ability to see through many layers to truth. They also reference the body's interiority and spiritual life. Have cutting edge scientific discoveries removed us from our inner light and spiritual selves to put our bodies at dis-ease?
Additionally, the combination of animal and human X-rays used in my INSIGHT images draw comparisons between the two species. The commonalities of animal and humans anatomies question how close humans are to our "animal natures."
Furthermore, is the use of radiation imbedded in the X-ray a precognition of the threat of world destruction by nuclear weapons? I like to think my collaged prints of animal and human interiors can serve as metaphorical diagnostic indicators of conditions in our world that need treatment: criminal behavior, drug addiction, war's human destruction, and political instabilities that plague us.
INSIGHT X-ray collage prints were exhibited for the first time in 2006 at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in New York City as the result of an international juried competition. They were also exhibited that same year at the New York Academy of Sciences symposium as the result of another highly selective competition.-Lois Goglia