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pet study ii:man ray/picabia imitating Balzac


PET Study II: May Ray/Picabia Imitating Balzac, 2003

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Keith Miller, Janine Fron and Jack Ludden

Jim Strommer, Digital Media Group, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

40 x 30 inches

Man Ray once said, “Some of the most complete and satisfying works of art have been produced when their authors had no idea of creating a work of art, but were concerned with the expression of an idea.”  For Marcel Duchamp, “Artmaking is making the invisible, visible.”   


In 2003, Sandor and (art)n collaborated with scientists and physicians from the UCLA School of Medicine resulting in a reconstructed virtual portrait of real patient data from a PET scan that uniquely resembled one of Man Ray’s portrait photographs of Francis Picabia posing as Auguste Rodin’s Monument to Balzac sculpture.   From what at first observation was considered scientific data transcended into a work of art that speaks to an encapsulated moment where photography and sculpture fused into new media.  


In PET Study II: May Ray/Picabia Imitating Balzac, a virtual sculpture of the male torso is maligned with lung cancer at the left apex, highlighted in a yellowish hue. Working from a series of processed Postron Emmision Tomography (PET) images, inspired by Man Ray’s portrait of Francis Picabia, this peice shows a revolutionary way of looking at the human form in the original photograph from 1923, Man Ray captured the Dadaist artist, Francis Picabia in a rare moment, imitating Rodin’s 1895 Monument of Honoré de Balzac, the famous French novelist.   

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