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X-ray Photographer ‘Sees Things I Shouldn’t’

January 16, 2013
Written by: , Filed in: Musculoskeletal Radiology
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Did you know that the British Institute of Radiology has an artist in residence?

He is Hugh Turvey, a photographer who creates beautiful, playful, and sometimes unsettling images using X-rays. In 2010, the institute named him permanent artist in residence.

Turvey trained under famed British rock ’n’ roll photographer Gered Mankowitz. “A designer friend asked me to source a broken bone for an album cover,” Turvey told the British newspaper Metro, “and I  befriended a head of radiology at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, who gave me encouragement and direction.”

Since then, the 41-year-old Turvey has created a quirky variety of X-ray images. Some he digitizes and colors, such as his recent X-ray looks at Christmas presents—everything from an iPad to socks, decorated with ghostly ribbons and bows. Turvey told the British newspaper the Daily Mail:

I have been working with X-ray for over 20 years and never get tired of seeing things I shouldn’t. So I put on what I call my X-ray specs and had a sneaky peek. I wondered whether someone had tried to hide the identity of a present by packing it in a different shape box. I guess the only challenge will be looking surprised on Christmas Day when I’m opening my presents.

Turvey uses different X-ray machines for different purposes. “I tailor the equipment to requirement,” he says on one of his Web sites (one solo, the other a collaboration with Artemi Kyriacou, a food and still life photographer). “For example, to capture a small insect of low density is very different to that of capturing the high densities of a sports motorbike.”

He even creates moving images, including an eerie slow-motion X-ray movie of a hand firing a pistol.

Upon being named the radiology institute’s artist in residence, Turvey said, “I share with the medical staff an interest in the semiotics of images and the way that the creative manipulation of images could be used to educate patients and demystify complex investigations.”

However, one gets the feeling that he’s interested less in semiotics than in playing with cool technology and creating striking pictures. “This concept of ‘truth revealed’ is one of the simplest structures of storytelling,” he said, “and the fun for me is discovering this hidden character in sometimes the most unlikely places.”

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Related seminar: UCSF Radiology Review: COMPREHENSIVE IMAGING

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