Tag Archives: Magnetic island

Self Portrait 12; Vision

30 May





Sorting through forgotten back files I came across this, I can only just remember doing it but since there were no notes at the time, my thoughts when I made it remain a mystery.

Perhaps, looking at the general stygian appearance of the picture, that is as it should be. My lovely wife, ever disrespectful, (and that, perhaps is also as it should be) said that I’ve given myself a tall hairstyle that looks like Marge Simpson – I like to think it looks more like Elvis, but there you are all is in the eye of the beholder.

The mountainous shapes in the foreground are taken from large granite boulders on the rocky shore of Magnetic Island; the picture was cut back and drawn out to resemble a Japanese wood-block print.

The face in the portrait is rather blackened like a coal miner. Both my family, and my wife’s, come from mining stock originally; copper-mining and coal-mining respectively. Derbyshire coal-mines were often small, cramped, and dangerous. Many miners were tattooed by falling lumps of coal that cut and marked their face, hands and shoulders. I was fortunate never to have to go down the pit to work, though I visited my father underground in the copper mine in Zambia on more than one occasion. The copper mines were much larger airy places, but just as dangerous and from time to time falling rocks would kill miners, and a mud-rush in 1970 killed 89 miners.

The chest X-ray in the background was from a miner with early pneumoconiosis – a disease that was rife amongst people who were forced to spend many years below ground in unsafe conditions breathing silicon-laden air causing fibrosis of the lungs leading to emphysema. Of course smoking was common at that time, and the combination with fibrotic lungs contributed to a high rate of lung cancer in that group of the population.

I have called it Vision because the face with red eyes emerging from the darkness, into the light appears to be seeing life anew – perhaps seeing into the future.

Chest 99; Say Ninety-nine

6 Dec

Chest 99; Say ninety-nine

This sequence of X-ray pictures has almost reached 100, in fact if we include the small Elements series it is quite a lot more than the century, but I’m satisfied with the present numbering system.

“Say ninety-nine” – a clinical technique known as vocal fremitus in which the vibrations of low frequency sounds like “Oh boy oh boy”, or “Ninety-nine” are transmitted through consolidated lung and is detectable on the surface by the physician’s hand. It is to detect areas of lung consolidation without using an X-ray or CT scan. I wonder how many physicians still percuss the chest, or palpate for fremitus these days? Personally I doubt many new doctors even know these techniques exist, other than as a quaint historical practice, though I may be doing them a disservice.

The photos layered in this picture were taken – with the exception of the chest X-ray – whilst on a short holiday on Magnetic Island off the East Coast of Australia. History says that Captain Cook’s compass went awry as he sailed past and he ascribed this to inherent magnetism of the island. They include a close-up from an oil painting in the apartment of fruit which lends the brush-stroke texture,blended with the photo of a tea-towel to impart the texture of canvas. The style of the picture was inspired by a well-known local painter whose studio I visited earlier in the day, he is one of those fantastic artists who can jab down his brush laden with paint and create an exquisite object in one stroke. What talent! I hope this has captured the spirit of his work.

The underlying X-ray was segmented, I removed the outline of the bones of the spine and warped them to make the white swirl, and the rest remains behind the layers emerging as a very abstract impression. It came from a child with pneumonia – exactly the kind of diagnosis that could be made clinically using vocal fremitus – Say ninety-nine!

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