Lux – Light; pel-lucidem

7 Nov
Lux pel-lucidum J

Lux – Light; Pellucidum

The middle of the human brain contains a membrane structure that separates the two halves of the cerebrum. This membrane, a septum, so fine that it allows light to pass through it, it is almost translucent; pel-lucid, named in Latin; the septum pel lucidum, i.e. the dividing wall that is translucent.

Absence of the septum pellucidum occurs in certain congenital conditions and because the septum is involved with formation of the tracts concerning vision, it is often associated with blindness, and incidentally many other neurological problems.

I have included the X-ray of a newborn baby with congenital absence of this structure as well as absence of other brain structures. The Chest X-ray itself was normal.

The image consists of two base images; a red flower, colour inverted, and a layer of rusty iron is subtracted. Light (lux in Latin) is provided by a picture of a candle overlaid to give focus to the image.

 

Chest 117; Silicosis

7 Nov
Chest 117 MPF 2C

Chest 117; Silicosis

After a good friend married to a mining engineer asked me to consider make a picture relating to mining diseases, I chose an X-ray of a person with severe emphysema and Progressive Massive Fibrosis of the lung due to silicosis. The name silica comes from the Latin word silex – a flint.

My upbringing from the late 1940s through to the 1970s was in a small copper-mining town, part of a series of mines known as the Copperbelt in Zambia. Almost the entire population was dependent one way or another on Copper Mine for a living, as was my father who worked underground. Underground workers spent their days breathing silica dust released during blasting. The Miners Phthisis Board figured prominently in all our lives and had the power to dictate the difference between being allowed to work or not.

Miner’s phthisis (or Potter’s Rot) is a debilitating occupational disease due to deposition of fine grains of crystalline silica dust in the lung, and the body’s immunological reaction to it. It causes fibrous scarring of the lung that restricts the ability of the tissue to absorb oxygen in exchange for carbon dioxide. It leads to emphysema with chronic shortness of breath, cough, and cyanosis (blueness of the skin). Sometimes the immune response is overwhelming and causes large lumps of fibrous tissue known as Progressive Massive Fibrosis (PMF) to form. It predisposes to infections, especially TB, and the tissue can break down causing lung cavities.

A major concern in mining and other industries, silicosis has caused such devastation that it is an important economic issue which governments cannot ignore, therefore focus was very much on the financial interests of mining. Other risks of silica were not appreciated till relatively recently. Since the 1990s there’s been re-evaluation of its role in triggering auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis.

The ubiquity of silicosis throughout the world has given rise to an entire culture, particularly within coal-mining communities. Many ballads, poems, and works of art relate to this disease. The paradox is that the men must work to live, whilst knowing they work to die.

The opening stanza of Gabriel Gadfly’s Poem http://gabrielgadfly.com Briar Patch gives a taste of this;

Press your ear close.

Sometimes you can hear the breath
rattling in my chest like a bone shrugged
its moorings and ought to be tied back down…..

A 1940s lino-print The Cough by Noel Counihan 1947 is particularly moving and reminds me of heart-wrenching encounters with men, struggling for breath, dying of emphysema due to dust inhalation, smoking, and recurrent infections, whilst I was working in a chest hospital in a coal mining area of England.

The cough

The Cough, Noel Coulihan 1947

My picture, based around a severe case of PMF with collapse, fibrosis, and cavitation in the upper zones of the lung, includes photos of a mining rock-face and a shaft headgear such as those that were central to our life in Zambia, and which will be familiar to many mining communities. On the right side of the image a faintly perceived ghost-like figure can be seen.

Chest 155, Parklands

7 Nov

 

chest-155-parkland-c

Chest 155, Parkland

The pictures that comprise this image were taken in parkland, in Queensland, in a wet, humid area. These conditions are ideal for the growth of environmental fungi. Fungal organisms are indispensable in the natural ecosystem and to life on this planet. They benefit humans, plants and animals, but they also interact in pathological ways. Of the many thousands of identified fungi only a dozen or so are “life-threatening” to humans, indeed many benefit humans such as penicillin. There are very few “primary” human fungal pathogens, e.g. coccidiomycosis and histoplasmosis.

Fungi can however cause devastating disease in plants and animals, though very few can do both. Cryptococcus gattii is one that infects both humans and animals but is non-pathogenic in plants. Humans are largely resistant to fungal disease, possibly due to the high basal temperature of mammals which fungi do not like.

The incidence of fungal disease in humans is however increasing, most likely due to the growing population of immuno-compromised people e.g. people who have received organ transplants, people on long term steroid treatment, and of course HIV/AIDS, and once established these diseases are difficult to treat.

The X-ray, which is hardly visible in this image, is from a woman who contracted Cryptococcus gattii in South-East Asia. This causes a deadly infection of both lung and brain. It was initially a disease of tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia and Australia but is recognized as an emerging disease in Canada.

 

Chest 154; Purple headed mountain

26 Aug
Chest 154; purple headed mountain

Chest 154; Purple headed mountain

Using Photoshop I drew the background hills and vegetation in a soft water-colour type of picture, then backed it with colour and texture. Finally with a chest X-ray of a man with severe emphysema. Just the sort of person whose respiratory reserve is so small that a small chest infection sends them into respiratory failure and the skin goes blue-purple with with severe cyanosis.

 

 

Scavenger hunt – Simplify

24 Aug
Simplify pic

Simplify – Simple joys

This component of the challenge was to simplify. For my base Image I took a single coronal slice from a Computed Tomography (CT) slice of the face. Only the tip of the nose, the lips and tip of the chin are included.

Simplify

Simplify – a simple CT scan

Set against a blue background it gives the impression of a stone pagoda in a Zen garden. simple and beautiful. I wanted to introduce colour but maintain the simple shapes so superimposed it on part of an oil painting which gave texture, and then included the chest X-ray of a normal child. Almost all of the X-ray is subsumed into the base layers leaving only a gentle shadowy halo around the central figure that now looks like a geisha.

Scavenger hunt Challenge – Patterns

24 Aug
Pattern pic.jpg

Patterns

This challenge had ten components, Patterns is one I liked. I find rigid patterns too stiff and formal and want some chaos out of which a pattern arises. I found this in a picture of rusty old bed-springs Taken some years ago.

Pattern

Patterns in bedsprings

The repetitive swirls and wiggly lines was most appealing. I overlaid this with a study of the sun setting through a flamboyant tree in flower (We call it poinciana in Australia). It includes a Chest X-ray of a child which almost disappears into the background, but provides enough alteration in the texture to make a frame around the bright centre. There was little photo processing other than the overlain images and the blending mode to bring the components through.

Scavenger challenge; Architecture

19 Aug

This base image was taken in an architect designed underground home in Switzerland.  The image was combined with images of fishing boxes taken on a visit to Cape Cod, and the normal Chest X-ray of a dear friend who has no association with architecture whatever.

 

Architecture 1

Architecture – the base image

 

Architecture 2

Architecture 

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