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Body Image: A fantastic voyage of art and technology (pictures)

A new exhibition is blurring the lines between art and science, with artists using medical imaging technology to animate the body's hidden passages in beautiful new ways.

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Claire Reilly
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1 of 9 John McGhee

Heart of glass

A new art exhibition is seeking to redefine the way we look at the human body, fusing science and technology with art and animation. The Body Image exhibition, showing at UNSW Galleries in Sydney's University of New South Wales, features works inspired by the body as well as animations meticulously built up using medical imaging technologies such as MRI and CT scans.

In this glass-like image, artist and exhibition curator John McGhee recreated human blood vessels, while experimenting with rendering to show the blood flowing within.

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2 of 9 John McGhee

An explosion of colour

A 3D computer visualisation of a kidney cancer cell dividing, created by McGhee using microscopy data.

"There is a degree of ambiguity in what you're looking at," said McGhee. "Is it art, is it science, is it technology? Well it's all of those things. Why separate them out?

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3 of 9 John McGhee

Inside the brain

According to McGhee, the Body Image exhibition has "played with the visual rendering" of the human body, with some images sticking with life-like recreation, and others replicating textures such as glass, wax or titanium.

In this image, McGhee has mapped the blood vessels of the human brain to create a 3D animated projection for the exhibition.

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4 of 9 John McGhee

'Vessel'

In creating animations of the human body, such as this 'Vessel' image, McGhee sought to render the body "in a way that not just represents the function of these [body parts] and how they work, but also how we feel about them".

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5 of 9 John McGhee

The Fantastic Voyage

McGhee said his vision with his work is to remove the mystery around illness, diagnosis and medical imaging, taking visitors "inside the body and inside the data, a bit like 'The Fantastic Voyage'".

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6 of 9 Kai-hung Fung/UNSW Art & Design

'Web'

Hong Kong artist Kai-hung Fung created his this image -- simply titled 'Web' -- by using a 3D CT scan printed on photographic paper. According to Body Image curator John McGhee it is works like this that blur the lines between medical imaging and art:

"The gallery of the 21st century is becoming that type of space -- that nexus of art, technology and science," he said.

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7 of 9 Drew Berry

'Hollow'

A still image from 'Hollow', a vivid cellular animation from artist and biomedical animator Drew Berry. The work was developed in collaboration with Icelandic performer Björk as part of her 'Biophilia' project -- a combined app and album that has now been curated into the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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8 of 9 Drew Berry

'Hollow'

Throughout the 'Hollow' animation, which is set to Björk's music track of the same name, Berry recreates detailed images of the inner workings of the body, blurring the lines between medical imaging and art.

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9 of 9 Drew Berry

'Hollow'

Speaking about Berry's work after the release of Biophilia, Björk said he had created "gorgeous" animations while adding his own poetic licence:

"He truly has brought magic to our insides, and shows us that we don’t have to look far for the miracle of nature, it is right inside us!"

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