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Posted on January 7th, 2014

Out of This World – X-Ray Art

I have featured a number of art related pieces in this series, from time lapse videos of nightscapes to IR images of landscapes and violence. My most recent discovery is very different from former artists. Arie van’t Riet wasn’t always an artist, he started his career as a radiation physicist. After some experimentation with thin film x-ray, he quickly turned medical techniques into artistic ones.

After imaging a bouquet of tulips he took the resulting panchromatic image into photoshop and added color to some elements of the image. The result is an ethereal combination of color and transparency. van’t Riet doesn’t just limit himself to flowers and foliage, he also includes animals in his images, which he calls bioramas. There are lizards, turtles, snails, frogs, ducks, chickens , cats and the occasional sneaky monkey.

Had I not watched the TEDx talk he was featured in, which I’ve included below, I would have assumed that he went to the zoo and caught the monkey in mid-climb. Which would be tricky seeing as x-ray imaging requires a vacuum tube that houses an electrode pair. This pair emits the x-rays while a camera on the other side of the object being imaged collects the x-rays particles that have passed through and around the specimen. In his Ted talk, van’t Riet describes his process and how he includes animals in his bioramas. Believe it or not, all of his specimens with very few exceptions (i.e. snails), are deceased. So when someone laments the recent passing of their furry or scaly friend, van’t Riet is the kind of guy who asks if he can borrow the carcass.

The scenes are quiet fantastic, seeing the skeletons lends a fragile strength to the image. The dark outline of bone surrounded by the grey of flesh, plumage and wings makes for a morbidly beautiful scene when juxtaposed by pops of color from leaves, flowers, lily pads and orchids. By putting on x-ray goggles, we are able to see nature in all its delicate beauty.

Katie Nelson
Geospatial Ninja
(303) 718-7163

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